Saturday, September 30, 2006

Why Butter should only be used for Cooking!
I decided to rent the movie Last Tango in Paris after hearing such great reviews by Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) on his podcast. His review was something on the order of "watch it at different points of your life and you'll gain a new appreciation of it each time you see it". Or at least you'll get an appreciation of Marlon Brando and see a hot chick in the process. Sounds good right.... Wrong!!!
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get over how pretentious this movie was. The plot is too simplistic, yet drawn out and revealed in multiple disjointed scenes to make the viewer feel like they figured it out. The film tries to make you ignore the crummy plot by throwing in a lot of sex scenes, but these too appear under quite dubious circumstances.
Marlon Brando is pretty much speaking gibberish the whole time. Do I get what he was trying to say? Yes! Do I feel any more enlightened now? NO! The first problem is that his character is somewhat of an American jerk who bullies the female character throughout the film so between the times when he's telling the girl to take off her clothes he's supposed to be sharing with you some gems of truth. Somehow I just can't take those messages seriously. Perhaps Ash from the movie Army of Darkness put it best when he says "That's just what we call pillow talk, baby, that's all." The second problem is that his comments seem all too staged, like an artsy film made by a college kid in film school. Lastly, Brando appears to be over-acting the whole time. I'm not sure if that's just how Brando is (I've only seen him in Apocalypse Now and the Godfather).
Films that I consider to be great have to engage the viewer. They must have believable situations and believable characters. Their messages are not delivered as monologues from a single character, but through the interactions between the characters. This film fails on all fronts.

Okay, enough of my negativity. Let me introduce to you a movie that is similar in concept but inherently better. Its called Amant, L' aka The Lover. I won't spoil it by giving you a one line synopsis of the plot, which would invariably color your impression of the film. If you break down the plot, you may think, its one of those movies, but you'd be mistaken. This is truly a movie where the journey is more important than the destination. I think the imdb comment "Deeply evocative and so real that we nearly felt the rain and hot humidity, we were swept along on this unique journey." hits the mark. I'll be frank, this movie has sex scenes, but they are all warranted, unlike in Last Tango. The scenes tie in perfectly with the imagery and symbolism of the movie and most of all occur naturally as a progression of the plot. It doesn't appear to be thrown in to keep the viewer from falling asleep like in A History of Violence.

If you haven't seen either movie i'd encourage you to do so and leave me a comment. I think you'll see the similarities between the two movies (especially in what apartments represent), yet become appreciative of they can turn out so differently.

If you're wondering what my title means and don't want to watch the movie, lets just say that yes, butter makes things slippery, but there are just some places where it shouldn't be used!

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