Derik Badman's Journal

2021-09-23 08:35

It never takes long for the relaxation of vacation to wear off with the pressures of work.

Finished Inland Empire over a few days and I wasn't that thrilled by it. Felt like it was similar to the much better Mulholland Drive but more complicated and confusing. I read that it was written as it was being filmed and that sense of one thing following another without a clear overarching connection was pretty prominent. It's like there was some logic as scenes changed from one to the next, but after a few transitions whatever was going on a few scenes back had been almost completely lost (Justin Theroux, for instance, seems to just disappear from the movie about halfway in). I'm not sure there was actually anything enjoyable in it. There is a certain pull to try to "figure it out" as there was in Mulholland Drive, but also the sense that there wasn't much to figure out.

Was up unexpectedly early today so I watched Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Assassin, which was a lovely film to watch, but not so clear to follow narratively. Hou is a master of composition and use of color. He lingers on beautiful scenery, he films the fight scenes with a brevity and dynamism that keeps them from being boring or overly long and complicated. But as a narrative, I had a lot of trouble following it. There are a lot of characters that don't really get named and their placement in the 7th century Chinese court of the setting is often unclear. They seem to be constantly changing costumes and hairstyles and many of the woman are never seen in each other's company, which made it hard to keep them apart. In the end, I don't know what I was supposed to get from it as a narrative, but it was lovely to look at.