Started by Capote, September 15, 2019, 04:55:14 AM
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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.
Quote from: Drenk on October 03, 2022, 05:30:56 PMPardon the informal tone of this review, 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: ShowHideOur 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.)