Xixax Film Forum

Film Discussion => This Year In Film => Topic started by: Capote on September 15, 2019, 04:55:14 AM

Title: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: Capote on September 15, 2019, 04:55:14 AM
Andrew Dominik has spent the better half of the decade trying to get his Marilyn Monroe biopic off the ground and, thanks to Netflix, it's now becoming a reality. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford director found his star in Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out, Wasp Network) this past spring and now production is getting underway in Los Angeles.

THR has details on the full cast which includes two of Monroe's husbands–Adrien Brody as Arthur Miller and Bobby Cannavale as Joe DiMaggio–as well as Julianne Nicholson, Caspar Phillipson, Toby Huss, Sara Paxton, David Warshofsky, Lily Fisher, Evan Williams, and Xavier Samuel. Cinematographer Chayse Irvin (BlacKkKlansman) has also come on board to shoot the film.

Based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel, Dominik told us, "Blonde's interesting because it has very little dialogue in it. My previous three movies have relied on a lot of talking and I don't think there's a scene in Blonde that's longer than two pages. I'm really excited about doing a movie that's an avalanche of images and events. It's just a different way. It's a different thing for me to do. And the main character is female. My films are fairly bereft of woman and now I'm imagining what it's like to be one."

https://thefilmstage.com/news/andrew-dominik-begins-production-on-marilyn-monroe-biopic-blonde-as-full-cast-is-announced/
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: pynchonikon on January 27, 2021, 05:08:59 PM
The hype is real.

https://mobile.twitter.com/ArmasUpdates/status/1292839850442457088 (https://mobile.twitter.com/ArmasUpdates/status/1292839850442457088)

https://mobile.twitter.com/ArmasUpdates/status/1352653412169637888 (https://mobile.twitter.com/ArmasUpdates/status/1352653412169637888)
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: wilder on June 16, 2022, 08:41:39 AM
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: pynchonikon on June 16, 2022, 08:52:27 AM
Fantabulous  :yabbse-thumbup:
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: Drenk on June 16, 2022, 09:55:22 AM
Thanks, Kim Kardashian! You've finally freed Blonde and Monroe's dress from its stitches!
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on July 28, 2022, 11:41:11 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIsFywuZPoQ
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: polkablues on July 28, 2022, 03:52:46 PM
The movie looks great, and Ana de Armas is genuinely a tremendously talented actor, but it's hilarious how there were all these articles and interviews dating back to last year (an example here (https://movieweb.com/ana-de-armas-marilyn-monroe-accent-blonde-movie/)) about how she spent nine grueling months of voice training and dialect coaching and ADR to perfect her Marilyn voice, and we finally get to hear it and it's just... Ana de Armas' voice and accent with a dash of Marilyn Monroe in it.

Honestly, I prefer this to the weird Frank Caliendo level impersonation Natalie Portman was doing in the Jackie Kennedy movie, but it cracks me up how hard the marketing was trying to get out ahead of the voice reveal when they should have just embraced it from the beginning. "Marilyn sounds Cuban now, what are you gonna do about it?"
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: Yes on July 28, 2022, 10:24:08 PM
I stopped caring about accent work in movies. The more actors try to imitate, the more mannered the performance is. And I knew Ana would never pull this off, so I just already wrote it off. Fassbender looks and sounds nothing like Steve Jobs but was great in that film

I'm more worried about the movie being a mess or tasteless. Dominik is a blow hard but he's made a banger with Jesse James. Killing Them Softly didn't live up to that so we'll see wheee this lands
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on July 28, 2022, 10:48:51 PM
Killing Them Softly has grown on me since it first came out. Dominik's style, or his use of style toward theme, clicks with me much more than James Gray. They seem to be a similar wheelhouse of arthouse-with-a-budget (the mid-budget film?). 
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: polkablues on July 29, 2022, 12:16:06 AM
Killing Them Softly is a masterpiece and I won't hear a word to the contrary.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: RudyBlatnoyd on July 30, 2022, 05:57:06 AM
I remember loving Jesse James back in the day, but the trailer makes this look quite on-the-nose imho. Hopefully the movie is richer and more elusive than just 'Marilyn Monroe was sad really'.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on September 13, 2022, 06:16:31 PM
Complementary reading (https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1375189038563475472.html)
cited from Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, by Anthony Summers

Content warning, grim stuff; as to the varied abuse and manipulations of powerful men against Norma Jeane / Marilyn Monroe. But it's seeming like the film may depict a bit of this per its rating and source material.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 19, 2022, 01:27:15 PM
back when this project was announced, and running with oates's early endorsement of the rough cut, i posited that this could see dominik realizing his full potential. i haven't seen the nick cave docs, but his work has always been worthwhile but never achieved the sweet spot of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts for me. 
 
blown away by Blonde.  Mouchette by way of Inland Empire.  dominik's magnum opus.  ana de armas is as extraordinary as the hype suggests.  for as draining and devastating as it is, i cannot wait to revisit. 
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: eward on September 19, 2022, 01:36:51 PM
I'm seeing this Wednesday at The Paris! Very excited. And I really cannot recommend the Nick Cave docs highly enough. They're extraordinary.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 19, 2022, 01:40:57 PM
i'll check em out for sure.  the score for Blonde is perfection. 
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: eward on September 21, 2022, 11:42:38 PM
I'm more of a longtime Dominik fan than many, it seems, but my feelings re Blonde match Samsong's word for word - this was riveting, harrowing, heartbreaking... Ana de Armas' performance is nothing short of a resurrection - much yet to absorb as I've only just left the theater, but the critical takes on this one seem really wild and reductive to me.

I cried a lot.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: RudyBlatnoyd on September 22, 2022, 02:54:23 AM
Haven't seen the film yet, but doesn't the criticism accuse the movie of being a reductive and incurious depiction of Monroe, painting her as little more than a sacrificial lamb and ignoring her own agency in her career, her talent, her savvy business sense, the great films she made with Hawks etc?

If the movie only shows her as a passive victim for nearly three hours, as the negative reviews suggest, that doesn't sound a) at all accurate b) very interesting.

I'm sure I'll watch it when it comes to Netflix though.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 22, 2022, 03:49:22 AM
i have a feeling most of those folks also write off lars von trier as torture porn. 

there's nothing reductive about Blonde, and i would argue to dismiss it as such is not to have engaged with the film on its terms.  i'm all for how polarizing this film is, but i've yet to read a negative take that isn't virtue signaling nonsense.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: RudyBlatnoyd on September 22, 2022, 08:25:09 AM
I don't see how it's 'virtue signaling' to contend that a film has a poor grasp on the nuances of its ostensible subject?

That Sight & Sound interview with Dominik conducted by Christina Newland (a very knowledgeable critic) is quite damning – he doesn't come across as having much interest in or respect for Monroe's work. He also seemed baffled and irritated that she didn't share his dismissive attitude towards the bulk of Monroe's career. It made him look a bit foolish and petulant. Also, displaying such a lack of curiosity / sensitivity towards your subject in a major interview doesn't bode well for the movie, in my opinion, but maybe I'll feel differently when I see it.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 22, 2022, 11:14:07 AM
it's virtue signaling when there's little regard for the film's ambivalence and complicated humanity, or even the possibility of the film having depth, but rather a blinders-on focus on how it doesn't abide by contemporary "feminist" ideals of representation. 

case in point:  https://www.indiewire.com/2022/09/blonde-ana-de-armas-marilyn-monroe-abortion-rights-1234763103/ (https://www.indiewire.com/2022/09/blonde-ana-de-armas-marilyn-monroe-abortion-rights-1234763103/)

reminds me of the time people were complaining about Soul dehumanizing its black characters by allowing a white woman to voice one of them temporarily, or because joe's soul turns blue.

but it sounds like you'll be going into it with an open mind though, right?  dubiousness towards dominik's approach/attitude as deduced from an interview or a critic you like hating the film notwithstanding, of course.  speaking on the former, why is "interest in/respect for" her work a prerequisite to making a compelling film with her as the subject?  is it not enough to have regard for her as a human being, especially when the film is an adaption of a fictional rumination on an icon?
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: RudyBlatnoyd on September 22, 2022, 01:43:28 PM
I mean, that piece you've linked to isn't so much a review as an opinion piece addressing one particular aspect of the film. I've seen thoughtful reviews from people like Christina Newland or Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian that appear to have entirely reasonable reservations or criticisms of Blonde's depiction of Monroe.

It's certainly possible to make a compelling film out of an entirely fictionalised version of a real person, of course, but what I've read so far about the film's contents makes it sound rather ethically dubious and dramatically one-note to me.

I will try to approach with an open mind, but that S&S interview has made it hard, admittedly. I mean, it really is a very bad interview. The interviewer raises all these things that Monroe did that show her agency and he basically just shrugs them all off – not a good look when you're making a 'biopic' about someone, in my opinion!
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 22, 2022, 02:39:39 PM
is the interview available to read in full online?  the two seconds i spent googling proved to be fruitless.  i'd be interested to read it.

complaints that Blonde doesn't focus on or parse out much of its run time to depict marilyn's agency or value as an artist are unfounded in that it's simply not the film that got made.  someone else can make the inspiring, edifying, fully factual version (because that's how most biographical films are, right?). calling it a biopic at all is a misnomer, really.  it has more in common with I'm Not There than something like Ray. 

at the end of the day, if Blonde is something a person can't get anything out of because they're unable to engage with it on its terms rather than focusing on what they wish it was, sucks for them.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: RudyBlatnoyd on September 27, 2022, 11:45:31 AM
Here's a choice outtake from the interview: https://mobile.twitter.com/christinalefou/status/1574785874277064706

Charming dude. I think we might've solved the mystery as to why there are so few women in Dominik's pictures lol.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on September 27, 2022, 11:54:12 AM
Glad the full interview was uploaded to their site!

This bit in particular does communicate well how the Blonde novel expresses Norma/Marilyn.

QuoteWould you say that in this story you see Monroe as a symbolic vessel for a story about childhood trauma or abuse?

I've read everything there is to read about Marilyn Monroe. I've met people that knew her. I've done an enormous amount of research. But in the end, it's about the book. And adapting the book is really about adapting the feelings that the book gave me. I see the film, in some ways, as Joyce's vision of Marilyn, which is also really Joyce. So I think the film is about the meaning of Marilyn Monroe. Or a meaning. She was symbolic of something. She was the Aphrodite of the 20th century, the American goddess of love. And she killed herself. So what does that mean?

Joyce is trying to understand how it expresses a certain female experience, or a certain human experience. You have to play fast and loose with the truth in order to have a certain narrative drive. But there are a lot of psychological processes that are dramatised in Blonde, a lot of Lacanian and Freudian ideas. For me it was just the scenes I found compelling. I went with my instinct and wrote it pretty quick. And I didn't change it that much, even though it was sitting around for 14 years. I know the ways in which this is different from what people seem to agree happened. Not that everyone's sure. Nobody really knows what the fuck happened. So it's all fiction anyway, in my opinion.

Do you think the film does much to unpack or reverse the idea of Monroe being crazy or difficult?

I think... it explains why. I mean, everyone's crazy. When we're talking about Marilyn, whether you're reading a book by Gloria Steinem [Marilyn: Norma Jeane, 1988] or by Norman Mailer [Marilyn: A Biography, 1973 – which Steinem's book was written in response to], both are projections and fantasies. Marilyn represents a kind of rescue fantasy. And the film is no different. The film is a rescue fantasy. We feel we have a special intimacy with her character. That's the attraction to Marilyn, that feeling that we're the only ones who understand. That we could have saved her somehow. And maybe the flipside of that is a punishment fantasy, or a sexual fantasy.

And adjacent to the "Outtake" posted on twitter, iz the bit that follows
QuoteCan you elaborate on that?

Well, she was a strange sex symbol because she doesn't have to die at the end [of her films] like a Barbara Stanwyck or a Rita Hayworth. But she had to be a little baby. So, when she sings 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend' – it's like, is that sisterly advice, "If you're gonna fuck, make sure you get paid"? Or is it just romanticised whoredom?
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: Drenk on September 27, 2022, 01:06:52 PM
I have no idea why you would do a movie about Monroe, painfully recreating shots of her life, and pretend that it isn't about her—just about the Myth of the Suffering Woman. Why somebody would spend ten years of your life on that? No idea. But coming up with a completely fictional character wouldn't have hurt if you can't even bother to watch the most famous movies of the actress at the center of your story.

I love Jesse James and Dominik documentaries are fun. Even his previous movie was, at least, interesting. But I only feel dread one now that Blonde is upon us.

Next post, I'll know what's on his bag.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 28, 2022, 01:16:34 AM
QuoteWhat you said about the idea of transposing modern values on people from the past, I agree that that's not healthy. Because I think it's very important to understand that women in particular had to exist within the confines of the world that they lived in. But I feel there are cultural repercussions to making certain choices in terms of how we present a figure from the past. What does it say to an audience that we're not seeing that she formed her own production company, or that she was involved in opposing the anti-communist witch-hunts by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s? Or that she fought against segregation on behalf of Ella Fitzgerald, and so on?

That stuff is not really what the film is about.

tee hee.

there is more though:

QuoteIt's about a person who is going to be killing themself. So it's trying to examine the reasons why they did that. It's not looking at her lasting legacy. I mean, she's not even terribly concerned with any of that stuff. If you look at Marilyn Monroe, she's got everything that society tells us is desirable. She's famous. She's beautiful. She's rich. If you look at the Instagram version of her life, she's got it all. And she killed herself. Now, to me, that's the most important thing. It's not the rest. It's not the moments of strength. OK, she wrested control away from the men at the studio, because, you know, women are just as powerful as men. But that's really looking at it through a lens that's not so interesting to me. I'm more interested in how she feels, I'm interested in what her emotional life was like.

between the interview and her need to show that "outtake" out of its context (as obvious as it is where it belongs), this has left me with a similar distaste that rudy seems to be cultivating towards dominik, and i am by no means an andrew dominik acolyte.  (see: Jesse James is just okay)  am i the only one to whom christina newland comes off as a smug moral elitist in this interview?  also amused by her disclosure up front about how he spoke about the approach of the marilyn monroe docuseries she's in being misguided, and subsequently reading that saltiness into her attempts at getting him to all but beg for forgiveness for having made the film.  she's pushing her perspective, not conducting an interview in good faith.  i'd LOVE to read what he said about Reframed: Marilyn Monroe.

the only objectionable thing in that interview, after newland's petulance, is that dominik doesn't like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  as vehemently as i disagree though, at least his expressed opinion is based on a reading of the work, and not taking it to task for what it doesn't do or what he would've liked to see.

Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: RudyBlatnoyd on September 28, 2022, 04:04:58 AM
My main issue is that she's describing a bunch of stuff about Monroe's actual life that is interesting and he says that all he was concerned with is a banal retread of the old 'fame doesn't buy happiness' truism. Excuse me if I think that sounds boring.

Also, using the word 'whores' repeatedly in an interview is weird imo. Perhaps that's just me being one of the moral elitist wokerati lol.

Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: pynchonikon on September 28, 2022, 04:34:11 AM
He might indeed be a piece of sh@t, the interviewers might discuss with him with their knives already out, he might be bitter seeing his passion project getting trashed by the vast majority. In any case, he shouldn't be so invested in the promotion of a film with such an ugly discourse, as the only thing he achieves is making things look even worse. He's not such a industry-connected dude to just get away with it, this might put another major pause (or even an end) to his career - or he will just direct tv episodes and nick cave docs from now on, which is not that bad after all.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: Drenk on September 28, 2022, 07:02:54 AM
QuoteCatastrophically misjudged, tacitly anti-choice gynecological episodes aside, the film's problems are far more foundational. In retrospect, the decision to realize a fiction—because Blonde is not to be taken for biography in any standards-of-truth sense—by frequent reference to the actual photographic record is a bizarre one. Who is this movie for, exactly? Those who don't know their Marilyn iconography inside out are surely going to be irritated by the seemingly unmotivated shifts from color to black and white; from hazy, gauzy filters to high-contrast Technicolor; from boxy aspect ratios to widescreen and back again. Sometimes these flourishes are meant to replicate an existing image, and sometimes they're just stylistic indulgences, but for the Marilyn-agnostic they must look mostly like a mess.

Meanwhile, those of us who do recognize the visual homages spend the whole runtime wondering when the next conflation between the Marilyn of public record and the de Armas of Blonde is going to occur—and also, when it does, where the photographers are meant to be. D.P. Chayse Irvin's camera does such a good job of mimicking the compositions and angles of those original photos that the effect is to erase their framing altogether and put us inside them. So in the aforementioned Monroe/Miller/fence scene, or with the cardigan/beach shot, or during a sequence that recreates a picture of Marilyn and her previous husband Joe DiMaggio (a miscast Bobby Cannavale) sitting by a window, it's unclear if we are supposed to understand that there's a photo shoot going on, with Marilyn performing for the camera, or if these scenes are meant as candid little slices of Monroe's life. This confusion is surely intentional, but the inference—that the private Marilyn looked and behaved a lot like the public, photo-icon Marilyn—deals a death blow to the idea that Blonde is about the woman behind the image, or in the film's vernacular, the Norma Jeane behind the Marilyn Monroe. For the Marilyn aficionado, there is only image here, no insight.

https://www.filmcomment.com/blog/in-the-dark-andrew-dominik-blonde-review-marilyn-monroe/
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 28, 2022, 11:04:40 AM
Quote from: pynchonikon on September 28, 2022, 04:34:11 AMHe might indeed be a piece of sh@t, the interviewers might discuss with him with their knives already out, he might be bitter seeing his passion project getting trashed by the vast majority. In any case, he shouldn't be so invested in the promotion of a film with such an ugly discourse, as the only thing he achieves is making things look even worse. He's not such a industry-connected dude to just get away with it, this might put another major pause (or even an end) to his career - or he will just direct tv episodes and nick cave docs from now on, which is not that bad after all.

because he's the only director in history to say something stupid or be bad at PR, right?  i'm only really engaging because everyone's so concerned about dominik being a dick (which he very well may be, so what?) and dismissing his approach without having seen the film because, what, he isn't satisfactorily reverent to marilyn's legacy?  Reframed exists.  watch that. 

if you aren't interested in Blonde, move along.  your disapproval has been noted.  but please, more people who haven't watched the fucking movie, come through.  this is fun. 

here's a positive review from a user (therewillbeblus) at criterionforum:

QuoteThis isn't just the greatest movie of the year, but the greatest biopic I've ever seen. It's an arthouse-biopic with the heaviest leanings on the poetic inspirations of Art Films, a channel sewn together from nonlinear memory, refusing to abide by an internal logic that would pretend to understand Monroe any better than she understands herself. Spencer, this is not (it's actually a lot more like Desplechin's Tromperie than anything else I can think of offhand). Dominik elides any merits in biographical objectivity to dive headfirst into a narrative, aesthetic, and psychological whirlwind of unhinged subjectivity. I cannot stress enough that, above all else, this is the most determined, messy and pure exercise aimed at engaging with a person's subjectivity. Whether or not it's all Truth hardly matters. The perceptions are real because the experience is felt, and all of that matters with supremacy in this isolated vacuum of De Armas' exhibition of Norma Jean's lonely existence.

It would be cheap to declare this a one-note mission to portray a ruthless nightmare of powerlessness, oppression, abuse, and neglect, because for all of the intentionally overstated bits (i.e. a cheekily obvious and concise sexist conversation detailing Miller's repulsed inability to perceive of a dominant trait of cruelty in a woman that he doesn't want to see, but total willingness to welcome feedback about a woman's inability to read), there are far more elliptical demonstrations of the elusive grasp Monroe has on herself, as much as her surroundings, including the parental and romantic intimacy she craves the most. The range is vast, covering higher concepts all the way down into the crevices of the internal. The film is sociologically clear but psychologically nebulous, reflecting Norma's own clouded hold on her intangible identity, which transcends the typical dimensions we're fed in biopics or character-driven narrative films, making room for the depths of the corporeal and the spiritual without a firm grip on either domain.


Yes, we're made quite aware that Norma Jean is playing a 'role' as Marilyn Monroe in her own life, alienated based on the dissonance between a forcibly-tattooed image of her and her 'true self'*, imprisoned by an identity thrust upon her by the public. But what Dominik has to say about our fragile relationship to our identity as moderated by a frenzied, oppressive -and depressingly palpable, physical, and masculine- higher power is profound in how abstract he allows the text to be while still keeping it as text, as close to our face as he can reach through the celluloid. Stylistically, this is spectacular. The playfulness with the aspect ratio, Godardian manipulations of soundtrack, and so much more obsessive-compulsive tinkering is a filmlover's paradise that will only reap greater rewards on repeat viewings. But Dominik's greatest use of technique is in the eclectic shifts in form, which are jarring and unpredictable and perfectly mimic Monroe's instinct of thwarted belongingness - a disorganized chaos of mental state and obfuscated sense of self.

Fantasies of the mind function like movies within the film, reflexively clashing with violent abolishments of dreams. Reality is evaded and magnetized, at times through the most imaginatively absurdist, fevered ideas put into graphic form. Dreams become nightmares, traumas are temporarily sublimated into dreams, self-constructed delusions are seen as neither wholly tragic nor saving graces -for that would simplify them too much into a hardened binary categorization, which would uncharitably assist us in succinctly diagnosing Norma (and, in turn, fulfill the lame charges unfairly lobbed against this film). Instead, Dominik implements surreal tactics that sever Monroe from herself and us from a grounded sense of comprehension, and in that we share the same need she does, feel the same broad discomfort, and empathize on the only fair terms- on the only common ground we can authentically foster.

The (many, including my theatre-buddy) naysayers who are scorching this project saw a completely different movie than I did. In general, I find the uniform accusations against this film symptomatic of a tired argument that suppresses important stories from being told by deciding that any film that attempts to capture the feeling of being exploited is only furthering that exploitation. It's a catch-22 situation, and especially troubling to know that so many other eyes and ears and hearts and souls absorbed the same film and read anything other than unconditional validation and dignifying of Norma Jean by the work's artists. Dominik demands we witness this perspective with fervent urgency, especially in an elongated denouement that imbues all formalist approaches from fixed-camera, clear-lensed, direct sobriety to heightened artistic allegory in the same scene, and references everything from Fire Walk with Me (complete with a score reminiscent of Angelo Badalamenti's Laura Palmer ballads) to Citizen Kane, before rejecting that filtered simplified icon of longing, washing it away into the inebriated panic of Norma Jean's irredeemable condition.
*Norma Jean spends almost three hours grasping at straws with the limited resources she has under brutal influence to figure out just what her 'true self' is, and the absence of substance discovered is the secret key to the whole puzzle. It's not a sled, but a not-sled, and it's the most honest place we could possibly arrive at to meet her where she's at.

None of this would be nearly as effectively if De Armas didn't give one of the best performances I've seen in... ever. Julianne Nicholson is the other standout player as Norma's unstable mother in the film's ruthless first act. It's one of the darkest sides of mental illness I've seen portrayed on screen, stirring us more caustically in mere minutes than most horror movie villains do across a feature length, and I hope she gets recognition for escaping into the role as bravely as she does here. I can understand why Netflix is burying this, why they wouldn't waste their money on a campaign. It's not a very marketable movie. It's incredibly artsy and intense and depressing. But, if anything, it's this neglect of such an important voice being heard that's alarming. Again, whether or not it's actually Monroe's voice hardly matters- but it's the voice of an oppressed woman's psychological state, translated in a hazy fog against the typical film grammar that's digestible to mass audiences looking to get vicarious catharsis out of her story. It's Truth, 24 times a second, for a lot of seconds. Such neglect is also very sad considering that every person working on this film deserves an Oscar, and no one more than De Armas. It's a fearless performance, a courageous part to take, and if there's any justice she'll take home the gold.

back to your regularly scheduled programming. 
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on September 28, 2022, 12:07:11 PM
I dug the book and look forward to seeing the movie.

The way this discourse so quickly shifted from discussing the potential of the film to 'defending' or chastising two peeps that are just doing their job is interesting. Why take it so personally either way? Interviews are meant to be interrogative / excavate. As a reader I gleam something about them both, I wouldn't be surprised if this was one of the more lucid conversations had on the press tour considering he brandished about that he's read 'everything' about Marilyn, and especially that what he turned on to about the material is precisely the pain and neglect Norma experienced, Dominick sez he has, too. In that sense his answers are nihilistic, as iz the spirit of the project he's promoting. Seemz in step.

Dominick feels like Marilyn, Donald Glover feels like Anne Hathaway.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 28, 2022, 01:08:59 PM
just responding in kind to, "i haven't seen this movie, but i read some stuff and this sounds terrible."  what i'm presupposing is... maybe it isn't.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on September 28, 2022, 01:22:24 PM
Yeee i feel ya... But that's something you can defend about any flick! Bit less engaging than a discussion on the actual film or like you or eward giving us more morsels of you two discussing it (since you both HAVE seen it). Drenks at least contending with his own expectations of Dominiks ability and perspective, lol.

Just an interesting shape that the interviews shrapnel left in the air.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: eward on September 28, 2022, 01:36:29 PM
https://www.reddit.com/r/blankies/comments/xpqom9/as_someone_who_has_seen_blonde/

Also WF
QuoteJust an interesting shape that the interviews shrapnel left in the air.
lovely!!!

Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: wilder on September 28, 2022, 06:58:28 PM
Greatest movie since Phantom Thread.

Spoiler: ShowHide
The "what's in the box?" scene rival's Seven's. It gave me a full-body sensation I've never received from a movie, before. The layers of myth in this are astonishing.

The movie is predicated on Marilyn attempting to replace the love of her absent parents through endless trysts and interactions with men.

She lives under the shadow of the myth of "Marilyn Monroe", the public's projection, and privately rides on the hope of another myth: the return of her idealized father.

Marilyn puts hope in two places: on the return of her father, who might bring unconditional love, and on the potential of a baby, who she could give and receive unconditional love to/from - the only two people in the world who could provide her with an unvarnished, "naked" understanding.

Her mother, though alive, is both a lost-cause and potential reason for her own current and possible future child's condition. Her abortions and miscarriages serve to severe the hope she places in that future, leaving only the idea of her father's return as a beacon of light.

The dream of her father's recognition is a way to attain a solid sense of self, a way to be reflected in the eyes of another who knows and understands her. Marilyn's first sexual interaction with Cass, who constantly redirects her attention to the mirror, underlines this. Even privately, Marilyn only understands herself as an image reflected.

The letter casting retroactive doubt on Marilyn's entire conception of her private self is such an unholy bombshell. Her public self "isn't her", as she mutters while staring up at the screen during the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes premiere, but her private self-conception also turns out to be a mythology, a double betrayal not only by the public but by her own mind. Marilyn suffers at the hand of the myth not only projected onto her but also the one projected by her own hand.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 28, 2022, 07:36:27 PM
Quote from: wilder on September 28, 2022, 06:58:28 PMGreatest movie since Phantom Thread.

let the church say, "amen."

Spoiler: ShowHide


QuoteThe letter casting retroactive doubt on Marilyn's entire conception of her private self is such an unholy bombshell. Her public self "isn't her", as she mutters while staring up at the screen during the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes premiere, but her private self-conception also turns out to be a mythology, a double betrayal not only by the public but by her own mind. Marilyn suffers at the hand of the myth not only projected onto her but also the one projected by her own hand.

couldn't have said it better myself.  the decision to have the writing on the note manifest before our eyes is about as astonishing a movie moment i've seen in some time.  absolutely WRECKED me, and a moment of such brilliant lucidity of theme. 

dominik mentioned in a podcast that there's a moment during a premiere where the actor playing her imagined father is present in the crowd.  i haven't had a chance to look for this, but this being an incredibly dense text, i'm looking forward to poring over Blonde ad nauseam.

a quick flippant thing, were you as blown away by how well they managed to integrate ana into the films?  i guess it's prob just Some Like it Hot, but god lord, it's sorcery how good it is. 

stemming from that, and to speak of brilliant choices, the conceit of shifting aspect ratios and prismatically ensconcing her almost exclusively in the imagery of her public life is just perfect, and perfectly executed.  the consternation it's caused for some is probably similar to the incredulity i feel about those that are bewildered by it.  not saying everyone has to view it the same way, but to be confused and ultimately bemused by it is emblematic of what i've perceived as bad faith dismissiveness from the dissenters. i'm both heartened and depressed by how uniformly one-note the negative opinions have been about this.  guess i can find some comfort in being amused at the irony of it all.  i'm still waiting on a compelling argument from someone who isn't of the same mind.  jessica kiang's review is not.  i'm sure they exist.

did you by chance read that "Blonde is ANTI-CHOICE!!!!!" op-ed? 


Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: wilder on September 28, 2022, 10:07:24 PM
Quote from: samsong on September 28, 2022, 07:36:27 PMdominik mentioned in a podcast that there's a moment during a premiere where the actor playing her imagined father is present in the crowd.  i haven't had a chance to look for this, but this being an incredibly dense text, i'm looking forward to poring over Blonde ad nauseam.

I wasn't aware of that, but the extras casting in Blonde is some of the best I've ever seen. Those faces leering at her on the red carpets, and the general demeanors of the men sitting quietly in the dark in the soundstages are so evocative.

Quote from: samsong on September 28, 2022, 07:36:27 PMa quick flippant thing, were you as blown away by how well they managed to integrate ana into the films?  i guess it's prob just Some Like it Hot, but god lord, it's sorcery how good it is.

Yeah it was impressive. There's a black and white clip of her singing that moves into her face, that I think was a morph? By the end of the shot I had questioned whether it was Ana at the beginning, too.

Quote from: samsong on September 28, 2022, 07:36:27 PMstemming from that, and to speak of brilliant choices, the conceit of shifting aspect ratios and prismatically ensconcing her almost exclusively in the imagery of her public life is just perfect, and perfectly executed.

Dominik had mentioned in an interview that the reasoning behind the shifting aspect ratios just came from trying to recreate the aspect ratios of the original photographs they were referencing. Your interpretation makes a ton of sense. I've only read a couple of interviews with him regarding this movie, but whatever choices he made that people are accusing him of lacking reflection on I think are coming from a place of an intuitive sense of truth in regards to the internal logic of the story he's constructed.

Something he said several years ago is relevant here:

Quote from: Andrew Dominik"Superhero movies are always the same story. They're about somebody who develops magical powers at the first sign of trouble, but they always have to have a secret identity, their self is always split. And it's usually due to something that can harm them that comes from their story of origin, their childhood or something like that. And because of this they have to split themselves in half. And one half can get public acclaim, and then the other half, the real self, has no hope of intimacy - and this is the story that Americans love. And...it's strange...to me. In a way Taxi Driver is a superhero story."

Blonde is especially tragic because as a movie about an American icon [re: Superhero], there's a double impossibility of intimacy in that Marilyn lacks the foundational underpinnings of a private sense of self that allow for that potential in the first place. Whatever hope of intimacy there might be in a more simple version of this kind of American mythos is dashed.

Quote from: samsong on September 28, 2022, 07:36:27 PMdid you by chance read that "Blonde is ANTI-CHOICE!!!!!" op-ed?

No...but that sounds silly. She just wants a baby.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: RudyBlatnoyd on September 29, 2022, 11:00:08 AM
Adam Nayman, noted Coens and PTA book author, also not a fan:

https://www.theringer.com/movies/2022/9/28/23375349/blonde-movie-review-marilyn-monroe-biopic
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: eward on September 29, 2022, 11:19:31 AM
Mark Kermode meanwhile...

Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 29, 2022, 12:14:40 PM
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: eward on September 29, 2022, 01:01:11 PM
Good interview.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on September 30, 2022, 08:55:00 PM
Quote from: wilder on September 28, 2022, 10:07:24 PMI wasn't aware of that, but the extras casting in Blonde is some of the best I've ever seen. Those faces leering at her on the red carpets, and the general demeanors of the men sitting quietly in the dark in the soundstages are so evocative.

YES.  and the fucking photographers at the premieres!

Quote from: wilder on September 28, 2022, 10:07:24 PMYeah it was impressive. There's a black and white clip of her singing that moves into her face, that I think was a morph? By the end of the shot I had questioned whether it was Ana at the beginning, too.

you're talking about the first Some Like it Hot scene, yeah?  i don't think that's a face morph, and it's that the resemblance in that scene is probably the most uncanny there, and it gives me chills (to say nothing of what directly precedes it...).  fun fact: the actor playing jack lemmon in those scenes is his son, chris. 

Quote from: wilder on September 28, 2022, 10:07:24 PMI've only read a couple of interviews with him regarding this movie, but whatever choices he made that people are accusing him of lacking reflection on I think are coming from a place of an intuitive sense of truth in regards to the internal logic of the story he's constructed.

there's no doubting its aggressive arthouse-ness, but i personally found that alone to be entrancing.  reminiscent of The Tree of Life in that way--a relatively obtuse and sincere art film that has broader reach than something like this normally would have, upsetting/boring audiences. 

confounding that anyone can accuse the film of being joyless when, at a minimum, it's so palpably there in the filmmaking.  there's just so much to feel in this movie and an obvious affection, despite its preoccupation with her pain.  i wonder if those who wanted to see a more demonstratively reverent portrayal think that norma spent a ton of her time admiring her accomplishments and bolstering her sense of self with them.  don't think anyone can say for certain, but it is a matter of record that self-loathing was a struggle for her and it seems reasonable to me that in attempting to immerse the audience in this character's subjectivity, the silver lining doesn't shine very brightly. 

i've re-watched this a couple times now and its emotional resonance has intensified with each viewing. 
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: wilder on September 30, 2022, 10:00:31 PM
Quote from: samsong on September 30, 2022, 08:55:00 PMyou're talking about the first Some Like it Hot scene, yeah?  i don't think that's a face morph, and it's that the resemblance in that scene is probably the most uncanny there, and it gives me chills (to say nothing of what directly precedes it...).  fun fact: the actor playing jack lemmon is in those scenes is his son, chris.

Holy shit.  Maybe I was just too focused on her, but I don't think it even registered that it wasn't Jack Lemmon, period. I need to rewatch!

Quote from: samsong on September 30, 2022, 08:55:00 PMreminiscent of The Tree of Life

Yes! Tree of Life is the movie that feels the most similar to me - the impressionistic onion-peeling of a character's psyche.

Quote from: samsong on September 30, 2022, 08:55:00 PMconfounding that anyone can accuse the film of being joyless when, at a minimum, it's so palpably there in the filmmaking

Thematic gravitas and originality of vision aside, I dropped Phantom Thread as a cinematic roadmarker because the filmmaking here is unrivaled by anything I've seen, since. The cuts are as deliberate as they come, hypnotic in their effect, and liquid in their sequence. Refn's Neon Demon did something similar, too, in my eyes.

When reading people's reactions, I'm struck by how often the 5 star vs 1 star reviews seem to be describing entirely different movies. Blonde feels like a real litmus test of how you view them.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on September 30, 2022, 10:09:46 PM
Jennifer Lame iz a fantastic editor (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2352780/). Really enjoying tracking her work. In that S&S interview, Dominik highlights her as having edited out the 'excess.'
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: wilder on October 01, 2022, 12:33:57 AM
Rewatched it, and it hit just as hard the second time.

First round I'd really thought the Some Like it Hot footage was a composite, or at least intercut. The recreation is unbelievable.

That moment of Marilyn's skirt rising repeatedly during the Seven Year Itch shoot is one of my favorite pieces of film, ever. For me this is the first great-looking digitally shot movie, ever.

Also the sequence leading up to the final premiere has such a dark, gorgeous tone — her car feels like a hearse arriving at a funeral procession (as it might as well be).
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on October 01, 2022, 05:55:48 PM
Spoiler: ShowHide

the gemini tryst, esp the mirror to that delicious transition into Niagra and through the trailer, is as erotically charged and aesthetically enthralling as the "love from afar" scene in L'Atalante. 

has the oppression and alienation of celebrity ever been more succinctly expressed than in those haunting tilt-ups on those billboards?

i'm obsessed.  like eward, i imagine this will have a similar corrective re-evaluation in a decade as Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me... but couldn't care less.  i love this movie now.

speaking of FWWM, the score towards the end of Blonde is obviously a nod to TP, though when asked about it during the venice press conference, dominik claimed it wasn't intentional, and seemed (feigned?) to be unaware.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on October 01, 2022, 07:14:12 PM
Dominik could be unaware while Cave & Ellis smirking!

This movie didn't work for me after the halfway point, perhaps I expected too much from how the source material played out in my head. It's sumptuous with affect and verve, and Ana De Armas givez a towering performance, but I didn't gel with the script. Some portionz, like you mentioned the gemini sequence, are undeniably moving. But almost no part of the
Spoiler: ShowHide
Joe Dimaggio or Arthur Miller
arcs brought as much playful insight.

During that first half, though, my mind was swirling with its similarities to Body Double'z text (immersion in illusion via craft, hollywood as the ultimate fantasy machine we embed within our lives, feedback loops of persona abrasing our soul)
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: Drenk on October 03, 2022, 05:30:56 PM
Pardon the informal tone of this review (https://letterboxd.com/drenkdrank/film/blonde-2022/), I've written this for my one fan on Letterboxd who posted a comment seven months ago regretting that I wasn't active.

Let's scrap Marilyn Monroe out of our memories. The actress who lived, and died from an overdose of barbiturates in 1962 is almost completely unrelated to what happens on Blonde. At no moment does Dominik seems interested to fictionalize her existence, he cares about generic ideas about actresses, women, Hollywood, abuse, bloodlines. Only the iconography is precise—but that could be the iconography of anybody, really. In order to avoid all this needless confusion, let's talk about The Woman and the Creature. Maybe we'll be more in synch with the novel. But I haven't read Blonde. I have only watched the Netflix production.

The story of Blonde is fairly simple. All stories can be easily summarized. In our case: a fatherless, psychotic Woman—an hereditary curse—is desperate for her Daddy, and abused throughout her life until she kills herself. This is about how childhood trauma, being an unloved, child will make you a vessel for abuse all your life, and how having no father is absolutely terrible. Our Woman received multiple curses at birth, maybe Eve is to blame, or Hollywood? The debate is open.

Anyway, that's our story, to which Dominik's script adds some superficial psychology: since our Woman has no bloodline, she's therefore free to invent her own name, or her own self, and that's what she does with the Creature she invents. She goes as far as taking the Creature's name. After all, the Woman in question is genetically disposed to psychosis.

That's just the story, its core, and I find it questionable—the tragic loss of a Father, the tragedy of hereditary, but why not? After all, every story told like this is necessarily reductive. But the way Dominik turns this story into a narrative only manages to shrink a reductive story.

The movie is a tight flow of memories; it feels like a river, and reminded me, yes, of Paul Thomas Anderson last movies in that regard, especially the way they brush through events, linking one memory-scene to another. Unfortunately, that was more Licorice Pizza than Phantom Thread. But the editing added to the technical marvel makes some sequences of Blonde immersive, dreamy, which unfortunately becomes an excuse for Dominik to avoid the world.

Our protagonist (Woman) in an actress, and you need to wait until the middle of the movie before a movie set appears on screen, and even this moment scene ends in a surreal vision. But the crowd is nightmarish. They're ghosts. They have no materiality; most of the movie seems to happen in little rooms, with few people. That doesn't mean much. Dominik seems to say that being watched is hell, but what he shows us is harmless and superficial.

That said, the main disconnect of the movie is about the Woman's split identity; there is, in fact, only one image, one woman, in Blonde. The Woman on screen is the same as the Creature the Woman watches inside the movie. Actually, the visual style of Blonde imitates these movies. The Woman speaks like the Creature. Actually, it's as if she had sampled a short YouTube video of one of these movies and could only speak that way. In short: this is bullshit. Not only is it simplistic, but Dominik doesn't even try to illustrate that idea. That nobody, at any point of the production, dared to mention that the Woman shown is depicted as identical copy as the Creature that is supposedly fake is surprising—there's usually somebody on your team to save yourself from your worst ideas.

To distract myself, I tried to imagine a version of Blonde where the Woman is another person—she's seen the movies of the Creature and is trapped inside all these pictures, and it would be some nightmarish roller coaster. Except it doesn't work very long, and that would have been akin to an episode of Community than a Great American Movie. So I keep imagining. I keep escaping. Maybe it could have been like Don Quixote, where our Woman wants to be the Creature, and therefore lives her life like all these movies, and reality cracks, is distorted. Well, there's an even better version of this—something I couldn't have imagined called Mulholland Drive, and I rewatched it two days after Blonde. Still stunning. Still a masterpiece.

No, Blonde isn't interested in what these images mean, or how they were created by the Woman—it's just a mindless recreation of these images, and the split of personality is as profound as a pulp novel. That's a shame, imagine if there were an actress who had existed around that time, some biographical material to dig into, maybe there is and I have forgotten her name...Imagine if she had been a person curious about the fabrication of her image, and how she could own it, manufacture it, even collaborating with a photographer to start her own producing company instead of Dr Jekyll and Mr Jekyll. Maybe that actress exists, maybe I've only forgotten her name.

Our Woman has no connection with the Creature. She isn't involved in its creation. Her agent tells her that he made the Creature. Our Woman isn't interested in playing different parts, her husband insults her for not desiring new roles, interesting roles. Our Woman is subjected to all this, paralyzed in her YouTube sample. An abstract figure being subjected to a paternalistic world, yes, but mostly to a paternalistic and disdainful writer/director.

(Imagine for a second a movie about David Bowie where David would mutter about not being Zaggy Stardust, dressed as Ziggy Stardust. He's also psychotic. He's scratched his eye himself. It's difficult to imagine such a ridiculous script written for David Bowie; after all, he's a genius. He's a male genius. He knows what he's doing, and he hasn't killed himself, only weak people commit suicide.

Or imagine a paperback about Robert Ford's fondness for the mythologization of Jesse James written in the style of the same adventure books that he's devoured instead of a brillant film depicting the illusion and disillusionment behind the myth, and how Robert Ford would self-mythologize his pathetic act as an act of bravery.)

This disconnect, the lack of interest in Hollywood, acting, self creation, the idea that the Woman could have thoughts and agency instead of being a symbol subjected to juvenile preconceptions about identity and mental illness, all of this makes Blonde superficial. But unlike De Armas acting, it isn't one-note. It has gently kept another note for us in its bag.

Like I've said, Blonde only pretends to be interested in identity, because, as Dominik has shamelessly admitted in interviews, his interest in Blonde (the novel) is limited. Why did he decide to spend ten years trying to produce this movie? I have no idea. He could have made a Gucci ad instead—they would have gladly payed for glamorous, inoffensive, shinny shots of old Hollywood movies. (Just watch the Kubrick ad they've recently released. They'd be up for it) He seems more interested in filiation, though. The other note. The idea is that, having no origin (Daddy Gone), she can't have children of her own, so all men treat her badly (Daddies Bad) and evil doctors take the next generation way; there's no issue, killing herself, in a way, symbolizes the end of the bloodline...or something...

Once again: juvenile. But why not, let's watch this. But Blonde doesn't deliver scenes and characters: he delivers cliff-notes, with one exception. Her polyamorous relationship with Cass and Eddy is the most interesting execution of this part of the movie, mostly because Xavier Samuel is the best actor in Blonde. Perfectly casted, his magnetic and intense presence make the passion believable. Chaplin's son believes that he is the one with the curse. The Woman has no Name. She is free from expectations. She can create herself, etc. This relationship adds dimension to Blonde. That doesn't last.

I expected some sense of dread, a provocative movie, something trashy, but Blonde is only monotonous and boyishly kitsch. There's at least one hour lull in Blonde, maybe more. The two marriages repeat what we've already (note 1, note 2), with no character work, no interesting situation—scenes that seem to be the « previously on » of a CW drama follow each other while De Armas acts very disoriented (some brain damage with her psychotic disorder) or simply stupid. The editing can't hide or distracts us. In a way, it made me think of Licorice Pizza, how it repeated the will they/won't they between Alana and Gary, introducing a ridiculous adult in order for our two protagonists to end up with one another. But even Licorice Pizza, a movie I don't like, had more varieties inside this simple formula and more character beats than Blonde.

There's nothing to add about the foetus. I have no idea what happened there. And I'm not sure Dominik cared enough; he wanted to do some 2001: a Space Odyssey stuff, found the opportunity and went with it, forgetting the Woman, forgetting the story, forgetting that what he was filming looked perfectly like anti abortion propaganda. All of Blonde is similar to this foetus.

After we've exhausted the multiple hushed variations of « The Creature is not my true self! » and some marriages, Blonde has to end, so the Woman has to fulfill the genetic curse and die, going insane. There's no particular reason, no particular event: the movie executes its simple program. Snapchat filters and derivative Inland Empire dream sequence derivative quietly lead us to the ending, where Dominik shows us the ghost of the Creature smiling near the corpse of the Woman. Truly, the bed is empty.

(In ten years, maybe Dominik will care about the subject of his future doomed project, if he hasn't lost all interest in what's he filming after the time spent on Blonde.)


Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: RudyBlatnoyd on October 04, 2022, 06:43:00 AM
Nothing I've read about this movie from critics, friends, posters here – even the (few) positive verdicts – has lessened my dread of the moment when I will inevitably, finally, watch the damn thing. It honestly sounds like we're in real 'film maudit' territory.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: Drenk on October 04, 2022, 09:27:09 AM
Quote from: RudyBlatnoyd on October 04, 2022, 06:43:00 AMNothing I've read about this movie from critics, friends, posters here – even the (few) positive verdicts – has lessened my dread of the moment when I will inevitably, finally, watch the damn thing. It honestly sounds like we're in real 'film maudit' territory.

The act of watching isn't as dreadful as I anticipated. It isn't particularly graphically gross or outrageous. Its monotony despite all the different styles surprised me, but it is easy to forget about them once they keep switching inside the same segment with no particular meaning. There's no intensity, no rollercoaster: instead, the movie becomes an even less interesting version of itself, hence the long lull I described. He also uses a lot of gimmicks to shift PoVs while not seriously focusing on any of them in the story. The narrowest maximalist movie of recent memory.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: Convael on October 04, 2022, 10:06:54 AM
I thought this was incredible.

Spoiler: ShowHide
Not to take anything away from Ana De Armas's stunning performance, but can someone please acknowledge that her Spanish accent came through in a significant amount of her dialogue? I'm in agreement that this isn't really a movie *about* Marilyn Monroe. Casting a Cuban actress who has tinges of a foreign accent further reinforces this in a beautiful way. I just haven't seen anyone mention anything about her accent, and have only read stories about her practicing for hours a day to get the voice right. Again, I'm not taking anything away from her or the film, but it feels odd to have not seen anyone else mention this since it seemed very obvious.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: WorldForgot on October 04, 2022, 10:22:50 AM
Yeah it definitely does. But it didn't remove me from what was 'there' as immersion isn't the movie's strong suit (or aim?)
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: HACKANUT on October 04, 2022, 12:37:45 PM
I agree about the voice being off. It doesn't take me out of the movie much but it's enough to notice. I think she leans on whispering to try and mask it... to mixed success.

They shouldn't have cast her but she did a great job regardless.
Title: Re: Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Post by: samsong on October 04, 2022, 04:01:15 PM
Quote from: Drenk on October 03, 2022, 05:30:56 PMPardon the informal tone of this review (https://letterboxd.com/drenkdrank/film/blonde-2022/), I've written this for my one fan on Letterboxd who posted a comment seven months ago regretting that I wasn't active.

Let's scrap Marilyn Monroe out of our memories. The actress who lived, and died from an overdose of barbiturates in 1962 is almost completely unrelated to what happens on Blonde. At no moment does Dominik seems interested to fictionalize her existence, he cares about generic ideas about actresses, women, Hollywood, abuse, bloodlines. Only the iconography is precise—but that could be the iconography of anybody, really. In order to avoid all this needless confusion, let's talk about The Woman and the Creature. Maybe we'll be more in synch with the novel. But I haven't read Blonde. I have only watched the Netflix production.

The story of Blonde is fairly simple. All stories can be easily summarized. In our case: a fatherless, psychotic Woman—an hereditary curse—is desperate for her Daddy, and abused throughout her life until she kills herself. This is about how childhood trauma, being an unloved, child will make you a vessel for abuse all your life, and how having no father is absolutely terrible. Our Woman received multiple curses at birth, maybe Eve is to blame, or Hollywood? The debate is open.

Anyway, that's our story, to which Dominik's script adds some superficial psychology: since our Woman has no bloodline, she's therefore free to invent her own name, or her own self, and that's what she does with the Creature she invents. She goes as far as taking the Creature's name. After all, the Woman in question is genetically disposed to psychosis.

That's just the story, its core, and I find it questionable—the tragic loss of a Father, the tragedy of hereditary, but why not? After all, every story told like this is necessarily reductive. But the way Dominik turns this story into a narrative only manages to shrink a reductive story.

The movie is a tight flow of memories; it feels like a river, and reminded me, yes, of Paul Thomas Anderson last movies in that regard, especially the way they brush through events, linking one memory-scene to another. Unfortunately, that was more Licorice Pizza than Phantom Thread. But the editing added to the technical marvel makes some sequences of Blonde immersive, dreamy, which unfortunately becomes an excuse for Dominik to avoid the world.
Spoiler: ShowHide

Our protagonist (Woman) in an actress, and you need to wait until the middle of the movie before a movie set appears on screen, and even this moment scene ends in a surreal vision. But the crowd is nightmarish. They're ghosts. They have no materiality; most of the movie seems to happen in little rooms, with few people. That doesn't mean much. Dominik seems to say that being watched is hell, but what he shows us is harmless and superficial.

That said, the main disconnect of the movie is about the Woman's split identity; there is, in fact, only one image, one woman, in Blonde. The Woman on screen is the same as the Creature the Woman watches inside the movie. Actually, the visual style of Blonde imitates these movies. The Woman speaks like the Creature. Actually, it's as if she had sampled a short YouTube video of one of these movies and could only speak that way. In short: this is bullshit. Not only is it simplistic, but Dominik doesn't even try to illustrate that idea. That nobody, at any point of the production, dared to mention that the Woman shown is depicted as identical copy as the Creature that is supposedly fake is surprising—there's usually somebody on your team to save yourself from your worst ideas.

To distract myself, I tried to imagine a version of Blonde where the Woman is another person—she's seen the movies of the Creature and is trapped inside all these pictures, and it would be some nightmarish roller coaster. Except it doesn't work very long, and that would have been akin to an episode of Community than a Great American Movie. So I keep imagining. I keep escaping. Maybe it could have been like Don Quixote, where our Woman wants to be the Creature, and therefore lives her life like all these movies, and reality cracks, is distorted. Well, there's an even better version of this—something I couldn't have imagined called Mulholland Drive, and I rewatched it two days after Blonde. Still stunning. Still a masterpiece.

No, Blonde isn't interested in what these images mean, or how they were created by the Woman—it's just a mindless recreation of these images, and the split of personality is as profound as a pulp novel. That's a shame, imagine if there were an actress who had existed around that time, some biographical material to dig into, maybe there is and I have forgotten her name...Imagine if she had been a person curious about the fabrication of her image, and how she could own it, manufacture it, even collaborating with a photographer to start her own producing company instead of Dr Jekyll and Mr Jekyll. Maybe that actress exists, maybe I've only forgotten her name.

Our Woman has no connection with the Creature. She isn't involved in its creation. Her agent tells her that he made the Creature. Our Woman isn't interested in playing different parts, her husband insults her for not desiring new roles, interesting roles. Our Woman is subjected to all this, paralyzed in her YouTube sample. An abstract figure being subjected to a paternalistic world, yes, but mostly to a paternalistic and disdainful writer/director.

(Imagine for a second a movie about David Bowie where David would mutter about not being Zaggy Stardust, dressed as Ziggy Stardust. He's also psychotic. He's scratched his eye himself. It's difficult to imagine such a ridiculous script written for David Bowie; after all, he's a genius. He's a male genius. He knows what he's doing, and he hasn't killed himself, only weak people commit suicide.

Or imagine a paperback about Robert Ford's fondness for the mythologization of Jesse James written in the style of the same adventure books that he's devoured instead of a brillant film depicting the illusion and disillusionment behind the myth, and how Robert Ford would self-mythologize his pathetic act as an act of bravery.)

This disconnect, the lack of interest in Hollywood, acting, self creation, the idea that the Woman could have thoughts and agency instead of being a symbol subjected to juvenile preconceptions about identity and mental illness, all of this makes Blonde superficial. But unlike De Armas acting, it isn't one-note. It has gently kept another note for us in its bag.

Like I've said, Blonde only pretends to be interested in identity, because, as Dominik has shamelessly admitted in interviews, his interest in Blonde (the novel) is limited. Why did he decide to spend ten years trying to produce this movie? I have no idea. He could have made a Gucci ad instead—they would have gladly payed for glamorous, inoffensive, shinny shots of old Hollywood movies. (Just watch the Kubrick ad they've recently released. They'd be up for it) He seems more interested in filiation, though. The other note. The idea is that, having no origin (Daddy Gone), she can't have children of her own, so all men treat her badly (Daddies Bad) and evil doctors take the next generation way; there's no issue, killing herself, in a way, symbolizes the end of the bloodline...or something...

Once again: juvenile. But why not, let's watch this. But Blonde doesn't deliver scenes and characters: he delivers cliff-notes, with one exception. Her polyamorous relationship with Cass and Eddy is the most interesting execution of this part of the movie, mostly because Xavier Samuel is the best actor in Blonde. Perfectly casted, his magnetic and intense presence make the passion believable. Chaplin's son believes that he is the one with the curse. The Woman has no Name. She is free from expectations. She can create herself, etc. This relationship adds dimension to Blonde. That doesn't last.

I expected some sense of dread, a provocative movie, something trashy, but Blonde is only monotonous and boyishly kitsch. There's at least one hour lull in Blonde, maybe more. The two marriages repeat what we've already (note 1, note 2), with no character work, no interesting situation—scenes that seem to be the « previously on » of a CW drama follow each other while De Armas acts very disoriented (some brain damage with her psychotic disorder) or simply stupid. The editing can't hide or distracts us. In a way, it made me think of Licorice Pizza, how it repeated the will they/won't they between Alana and Gary, introducing a ridiculous adult in order for our two protagonists to end up with one another. But even Licorice Pizza, a movie I don't like, had more varieties inside this simple formula and more character beats than Blonde.

There's nothing to add about the foetus. I have no idea what happened there. And I'm not sure Dominik cared enough; he wanted to do some 2001: a Space Odyssey stuff, found the opportunity and went with it, forgetting the Woman, forgetting the story, forgetting that what he was filming looked perfectly like anti abortion propaganda. All of Blonde is similar to this foetus.

After we've exhausted the multiple hushed variations of « The Creature is not my true self! » and some marriages, Blonde has to end, so the Woman has to fulfill the genetic curse and die, going insane. There's no particular reason, no particular event: the movie executes its simple program. Snapchat filters and derivative Inland Empire dream sequence derivative quietly lead us to the ending, where Dominik shows us the ghost of the Creature smiling near the corpse of the Woman. Truly, the bed is empty.

(In ten years, maybe Dominik will care about the subject of his future doomed project, if he hasn't lost all interest in what's he filming after the time spent on Blonde.)




well, you certainly recreated your experience with the movie you saw Blonde to be in the way you wrote about it.