Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
Decided to punish myself last weekend with Judd Apatow's latest assembly-line homage to all his good-guy high school buddies, Enduring Sarah Marshall . . . whoops, fucked up the title (excuse my French, apparently it's contagious), but y'all know what I'm driving at. Just the familiar beta-male blend of regressive gender fantasies: self-pitying schlub hero (calling Mrs. Portnoy!) wins over va-voom! mannequin brunet after being dumped by equally va-voom! mannequin blond (who comes to regret the dumping, natch) and providing a couple of R-rated peeks at his bashful schlong (not to rub it in, but even the latex extender in Catherine Breillat's Sex Is Comedy is more transgressive—not to mention a whole lot funnier). And Jonah Hill's in it too . . . like, yyyaaaaaaahhhhh!
Which is why I'm still feeling grateful for Sunday's double-feature companion, Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry Nights, as antidote to the spoiled-Hawaiian-pineapple aftertaste of Judd. Only Blueberry's been getting ho-hum reviews and Sarah mostly good ones—so why is that? Since even with its multiple glaring flaws (and the distributor's own mutilations/excisions/abridgments), Blueberry's the only one of the two I can imagine myself voluntarily—even eagerly—watching again. What could be more seductive—from the unreadable cursive lettering on the windows (which immediately put me in mind of Orson . . . I mean, Norman Foster's Journey Into Fear, all the environmental wordplay that nobody knows how to decipher) to the convertible enchantments of Natalie Portman at the wind-whipped end of her tether, as suggestively wrung out as the hardscrabble Nevada landscape that engulfs her.
Which of course I'm a born sucker for, these nonnative excursions into the Great American Vacancy—Antonioni's Zabriskie Point, Wenders's Paris, Texas and Don't Come Knocking ... even Bruno Dumont's critically thrashed and pummeled Twentynine Palms (another flawed fave of mine), with its lines of windmill generators and endlessly rolling boxcars and surreal explosions of highway detritus—auto dealerships and Tastee Freezes among the strip-mall palms, etc—set down in the Death Valley middle of nowhere. So nondescript and desperate that only a sodden romantic could love the place. Which is probably all Jean Baudrillard's fault.
Postscript: Don't everybody applaud, but this is probably the last post I'll be doing for a while. I'm having arthroscopic surgery 4/29 (right rotator cuff—oww, oww!) and won't be able to assault my computer for at least a couple of weeks. Whether any of this will affect (or, heaven forefend, improve) my writing or thinking about films remains to be seen. But at least I'll be able to throw my infamous hanging screwball again. In any case, ciao for now . . .