Friday, September 25, 2009

Lemons, Lions & Lambs

“Life is like a dream, a series of meaningless movement.”

I am listening to Blonde Redhead’s masterpiece, Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. I haven’t heard this in quite some time and I must say it sounds pretty great. I liked the follow up, Misery is a Butterfly (despite the somewhat annoying title) but have not heard their latest, which is at least a year old. What the hell? Maybe I just don’t see how Melody can be topped. After years of making Sonic Youth inspired indie rock, they soften their sound and found their collective muse in perfect form.


Yesterday, Cassandra told me of the Netflix movie she got in the mail, Lions for Lambs. Did I want to see it? She was on the fence herself. We decided that we’d give it twenty minutes and see if it was a grabber. Jesus… it grabbed me.

This movie flew under the radar, or maybe I should say it flew under my radar. It seems to have suffered from lousy marketing and the apathy of an audience eager for Borat and not interested in a film that examines our sad nation’s current political environment. But it doesn’t just examine one aspect; it fixes its eye on three levels of concern, all connected, all crucial. Leatherface Redford, who directed and plays the part of the professor/idealist/conscience of the story, bites off a lot in this movie, sometimes swallowing things whole, maybe chocking a little here and there, but definitely doing what I feel is important work. I can’t say I love every movie he’s directed, or can name them all, but between this and Quiz Show, I’m converted. It’s nice to see someone can still make riveting movies that consist largely of talking heads.

So why didn’t I give a damn about this movie when it came out? Maybe for the same reasons that the movie did so poorly and got such negative reviews: why watch a movie about the War on Terror when there’s cable news? Who wants to see a didactic movie about how rotten things are? Yeah, no one seems to have been too riled by the thing, and the critics chimed in with a lot of “dull,” “preachy,” “pompous” comments, even calling it an eye-drooper. Were they watching the same movie I saw? I thought it was pretty energetic for a talky film with mild bits of action thrown in. While far from perfect (name a perfect film), the movie at least tries to raise some fucking important questions and makes the effort (however half-hearted) to make look at both sides in our increasingly polarized United States (see the oxymoron there?).

Were I more conspiracy minded, I might suggest that a movie that attempts to confront the apathy that is swallowing our country might never have a chance of surviving less due to the indifferent public, and a lot more due to the invisible machinations of the industry. I mean, maybe I am remembering things differently, but no one seemed bent on promoting this movie. Taxi to the Dark Side, and No End in Sight (both excellent) are small films, documentaries for fuck’s sake, without the big studios and their liquid cash, but were talking about a movie with Redford, Streep, and Tom Cruise. Hell, the loopy Scientologist was behind the thing’s production and still no one cared. Jesus, where was the dough? Probably spent on something with a higher chance of return. Ironic, ain’t it?