Saturday, December 12, 2015

a movie I don't want to see

In my memory banks, "The Last Wave," directed by Peter Weir, is probably the most ballsy movie I ever saw. The 1977 movie is
... about a white solicitor in Sydney whose seemingly normal life is disrupted after he takes on a murder case and discovers that he shares a strange, mystical connection with the small group of local Australian Aborigines accused of the crime.
The spiritual daring of the movie blew my socks off. Apparently it blew Weir's socks off too because his subsequent movies ("The Year of Living Dangerously," "The Truman Show," "Witness" et al) while containing mystical/magical elements, bent a knee to Hollywood and the need to put spaghetti on the table. Still, "The Last Wave" is a benchmark in my memory. Who knows if it would stand up to rewatching today?

Like a child reaching out to touch the horizon, "The Last Wave" acknowledged the child in all of us. It was intelligent and unapologetic. It was no joke. It eluded the smarm that might have been brought to bear in other directorial hands. It was serious rather than solemn. Children fall down and skin their knees. There is literal blood on the tapestry of this childhood.

I guess I find myself casting back to "The Last Wave" because "In the Heart of the Sea" made it into movie theaters this weekend. A Variety review seemed to sum up the luke-warm reception it got when the magazine described the movie as "a pedestrian retelling of a harrowing real-life survival story that served as one of the key inspirations for “Moby-Dick.”"

Reading reviews is not something I generally do, but in this case, I had recently finished the 2000 book on which it was based. I liked the book, which was quiet and somehow embodied the vastness of the landscape on which 19th century whaling ships operated... man-in-the-face-of-the-huge ... was this courage or greed or insanity? I liked the book, but a part of me simply could not believe a movie would or could be daring enough to capture or investigate or even whisper about the "it" of it all. I thought the reviews might cast some light. And they did. Good reviews, bad reviews ... still reviews cannot escape whether or not the reviewer was touched or moved or informed or drawn-out or shape-shifted out of a convenient world.

I had wanted to want to see the movie. Now I don't. Big and brash and bold and sweeping ... or maybe just disastrous ... these are coupons on the cereal boxes. Balls are a different matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment