Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Snake Pit (1948)

Psychological thrillers seem to have been in vogue in the forties with psycho-analysis as the big animal in the revelation. I have previously been rather negative about this sort of psycho-babble and that should make me a bit nervous going into a movie like “The Snake Pit”.

Fortunately this is not (just) a movie about cheap and convenient psychology, but rather about psychiatry, mental illness and society’s way of dealing with it. While there has been movies of other illnesses, alcoholism and thrillers taking place in or around psychiatric wards, no movie have previously described the experience of psychiatric treatment from the inside. Many movies would later follow with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” as the most notable example, but in its day “The Snake Pit” was something new.

We follow a woman called Virginia (superbly played by Olivia de Havilland) who has been committed to Juniper Hill State Hospital, an institution for mental illness. She is confused and erratic, disappears at times even to herself and seem out of contact with reality. Her husband whom she married shortly before she was hospitalized loves her dearly, but she hardly remembers him and he in turn has no idea what is going on with her.

From then on Virginia is sent through different wards in the hospital. She encounters different sorts of treatment then in fashion and, horrid as they seem, they are nothing compared to the overcrowded and run down general conditions in the hospital. There are large rooms full of maybe 30+ beds and people everywhere. The rooms are naked except for bars and fences and the place looks nothing so much as a prison. This also seems to be the general attitude of the staff. This is a storage facility for crazy people and this have to be done as cost efficient as possible (that sounds oddly familiar). Some of the nurses seem sympathetic to the patients, but the general image is that of cool efficiency and superiority. The patients are inmates. The staff set the rules and enforce them as in a military camp or, yes, like in a prison.

But Virginia is lucky because in this hopeless place there is a doctor who takes an interest in her case. This is Dr. Kik (Leo Genn), whose real name is so hopelessly long and foreign that it has been reduced to those three letters. Where the other doctors seem more interested in budgets Dr. Kik is the responsible doctor with the, in this place rather revolutionary, idea that patients need time and attention to be cured on an individual basis rather than processed or stored. The narrative is that through interviews, hypnosis and shock treatment Dr. Kik manages to “solve” Virginia’s mental illness so she can be reunited with her husband.

That plotline is actually the weakest part of the story since it almost falls into the usual trap of simplifying the mental illness. It was the general idea of the time, at least in Hollywood, that if you would just face what made you sick you would be cured. It was just a matter of digging up the dirt from the subconciousness. That makes for nice and convenient movie plots, but reality is somewhat more complex than that. The movie know that and this is also why I can forgive them this transgression. There are more things to it than just the key. In fact it may be a vast complex of issues. You get better and you get worse and you may never get entirely out of it and that attitude in the movie is a massive step forward.

The better story here is in Virginias encounter with the system. She is this naïve girl who is confused, but wants to do the right thing. We are there in the skull with her listening in on her thoughts and so through her we feel the full impact of this place. We get an excellent view of what psychiatric treatment was like in the period and while there certainly is an element of social indignation in the way it is presented we are never in doubt that this is probably how it really is in those hospitals. That once inside you are lost to the world. As Virginia moves from ward to ward she see the upper class department with single rooms and privileges, obviously for the rich or easy cases, right down to rock bottom in the form of the horrible Snake Pit, a big room full of raving lunatic and mattresses on the floor. Where the patients wear rags and no hope of ever getting out. This is the place for the lost causes. In the story it happens to be the means to finally break through to Virginia, but I suspect the actual purpose of this place in the movie was to shock us.

Olivia de Havilland is the star of the movie, no doubt about it. She is stripped of all glamour and we see the naked soul of a woman. Her hopes and fear clearly reflected in her face as she face the horrors of her illness or the treatment of same or her blissful vacant joy when her mind wanders off. The portrayal of Virginia reminds me of Laura in “Brief Encounter”. De Havilland has that same connection with the situation of her character and it is just marvelous to watch. I read how she did her own intensive research on psychiatric patients and their lot and treatment and I suppose she really embraced the role. Olivia de Havilland was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and it would have been well deserved had she got it.

I know that it is such a Hollywood thing to present people with mental illnesses as loonies who pretend they are someone else while they bounce around or babble away. Such wacky behavior makes good pictures, much better than footage of depression. I also know that presenting mental illness as a mystery puzzle that can be solved through diligent detective work is another silly Hollywood trope. Despite this I think this may be the best and most interesting look at the treatment of psychiatric patients so far on the List. It is painful and heartbreaking, but also with a lot of sympathy and understanding for the patients and even a bit of humor. I learned through the research I did for the movie that this film lead to a number of reforms on mental wards in America and that alone is a success. A place like Juniper Hill State Hospital could drive anybody insane.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

2 Years Anniversary

2 Years Anniversary
It is that time of the year again. On Saturday I could celebrate 2 years of blogging.

Last year at this time I had just posted a review for number 172 (then number 159 “The Man in Grey”) while the most recent post is “Rope”. It is number 221, but counts for me as number 218 and used to be number 207. That means that I have climbed 48 movies up the List or 5 years from 1943 to 1948 over the past years. More or less the same as I did last year.

I also finished catching up between what I have seen and what I have written about (11 movies), finally getting that out of the way.

New movies were added to the List in the autumn causing a massive and at times confusing renumbering of the titles. 9 new films were added within the period I had been covering and I watched these as well.

Danish films have started to crop up in my edition of the book and in this past year I covered 3 of them.

That totals 71 movies since this time last year. I am okay with that. It is not a race after all.

I have not really planned anything new on the site although I am starting to get fed up with the boring default design I am using. So maybe one day I will freshen things up a bit. Though no immediate plans.

For about a month the world cup conflicts seriously with my movie watching. The games are played exactly in the window where I can seclude myself with my movies forcing me to be creative and selective. But hey, it is just a month and meanwhile there are some seriously good games on. We did not qualify this year because we have a crap team, but that means that the media are free to cover all the other teams and consequently this is a more interesting tournament to follow than usual.

Anyway summer is on. Outside temperatures will soon approach 40C and the humidity is racing upwards. It is nasty outside so close the shutters, start the air con and put on some old movies.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Rope (1948)

Alfred Hitchcock has a ton of movies on the List. That is no secret, in fact it may be the first thing you notice when you flip through the book. I will stay out of the discussion of whether his many entries are deserved or not and just enjoy the opportunity to actually follow a director’s development over the years. Where early Hitchcock films had a tendency to be all over the place, he gradually developed a sharper focus so that eventually he could produce exactly the message he wanted. I think that with “Rope” this focus is finally perfected.

This is a movie where everything else is cut away, no dallying around. From start to end Hitchcock focuses his and our attention on a single evening in an apartment where a murder has been committed.

The background stories on “Rope” are very much about the technique used. That Hitchcock wanted to make this look like a stage play in real time and therefore tried to make it seems like there are no cuts at all, that we are there all the time. It is interesting and it works as intended, but it is also a bit of a gimmick and not really the reason this film is as good and interesting as it is. I feel that this gimmick steals the attention but in a way I should be pleased by that. Because this may well be the reason there is a film at all. More about that below.

“Rope” has a number of interesting elements.

The first is of course the murder itself. The two men living in the apartment, Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) have killed an acquaintance called David, hid him in a chest in the living room and invite a group of relatives to the deceased to a party in the self-same room. It is morbid in the extreme and the suspense is in whether or not the guests will discover the stiff. This is mostly interesting because we are not really sure if we are hoping the body will be discovered or that it will not be discovered and that is largely due to the characters of the two perpetrators. Brandon is an asshole and clearly the one who engineered the murder. He needs to go down and we are rooting against him. Phillip on the other hand bears all the marks of one who are in this against his will. He bitterly regrets the deed and is searching for a way out. His nervousness and misery makes make us hope the body will not be discovered. With his usual deft touch Hitchcock keeps us on that knife’s edge throughout the movie before we find release. Especially the long scene seen from just behind the chest where the unsuspecting Mrs. Wilson (Edith Evanson), the maid of the boys, is clearing the chest and preparing to stuff the books back in the chest, is nerve wracking.

Behind this plot is the next layer, which is one of philosophy. This is just after the war where a number of traumatic experiences on the world stage has thrown a glaring light at the misbegotten idea that some people are better than others. I suspect at this point (1948) the world has not yet fully digested these events and so it is still a matter of debate. Well, to a point this is only the beginning, the discussion is still going on, sadly as it is. In any case, in the circles Brandon and Phillip moves in, the ideas on Nietche, that there is some sort of übermench identifiable by a larger and more sophisticated intellect, which is surrounded by lesser beings, who because they lack the clarity of mind must be subservient to the übermench, lives well and good. The old “house master” on their college, Rupert (James Stewart) has been promoting these ideas, and Brandon has not only adopted them, but decided to live them out. Instead of just talking about that some people deserve to die and that some exalted few are free to exact that punishment on a whim, Brandon has decided that he is one of those few and practically everybody else (with the exception of Rupert) are those lesser beings. David, he decided, must die, simply because he is a lesser being. David’s friend Kenneth (Douglas Dick) and David’s girlfriend Janet (Joan Chandler) can be manipulated and David’s parents can be mocked, all so Brandon can feel almighty.

It is this move from talk to action that shocks Rupert so badly when faced with it. He may have the role as “detective”, but he is also the teacher who is faced with a student that actually listened and now reveals what horrors those words actually meant. Much like Nazism took those words and slogans that were so easy to banter around and took them to their natural conclusion in what became the world’s biggest horror show ever. By what right can you claim to be a better person and by what right can you enforce your judgment on others? Those are the questions “Rope” asks us.

But that is not enough. “Rope” has a third layer that may or may not be related to the two above, but is not less interesting. In fact it makes the movie down right unique. “Rope” is a very homosexual movie. Brandon and Phillip are living together, shares one bedroom and behaves in every way as a couple. Homosexuality is not mentioned by a word and there are no kisses or hugs or outright remarks in that direction, but there is no need. It is very clear these two are together and it is just as clear that Brandon is the one on top. This is just about unheard of in American movies of this period and normally the censors would have cracked down on much less than this. Homosexuality was after all the kind of “filth” they were supposed to protect the innocent American population from. My only explanation is that Hitchcock’s revolutionary technique stole all the attention so the censors simply missed it. Amazing as it sounds.

Brandon may be together with Phillip, but that is not where his love is. He wants Rupert. Rupert is his teacher, but he is also Brandon’s idol and the entire evening can be constructed as one big hit on Rupert. The stammering, the eagerness of recognition and respect, damn, he wants to be found out by Rupert so Rupert can see that Brandon is worthy of him. Phillip is of course upset that Brandon is giving them away, but mostly I think he sees that Brandon plays up to Rupert and he feels like the third wheel. This is a very advanced love triangle!

Rupert of course is played by James Stewart and he is about the straightest man ever. This means of course that Brandon’s love can never be returned and I think the movie suffers a bit from it. Of course Stewart is excellent as the professorial “detective” and he is even better as the academic who realizes what dangerous crap he carelessly has been teaching, but the gay element is missing. In that way it makes Brandon even more disturbed and blind, but I cannot help thinking that that might not have been all the intension.

“Rope” is simply one of the most interesting Hitchcock movies I have seen, maybe not the best, but probably the most advanced. It worked completely for me and I have not even mentioned the excellent script. The dialogue is so spot on and helps to lubricate a message that is by no means a light one. A lot of people after the war had to ask themselves what they had been thinking of. The übermench is a very very disturbed character.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Red River (1948)

Red River
”Red River” is an epic movie. Or rather, it really wants to be an epic movie. Everything is set up to show us a really big story. We have a group of MEN who set out on the nearly impossible task of driving a giant herd (10.000 heads) of cattle hundreds of miles through big, open landscapes. They are out there for several weeks, months even, facing nature, natives and big drama. It is big and it is beautiful and it is very difficult not to be impressed with this movie. The only thing lacking really is a wide screen format and Technicolor. I am scratching my head why at least the colors were not used, but it may be a combination of technical and financial reasons behind that decision. In those days it was not entirely trivial to use colors.

The Book has already given away the plot as a retelling of the “Mutiny on the Bounty” story. That is okay with me. There are so many parallels that eventually that connection would have dawned on even me. That the handsome Montgomery Clift is the Fletcher Christian character Matt Garth would come as no surprise. That man screams cinema hero. Not the grimy, hardboiled type, but the one to make women soft in their knees. That to a metrosexual extent that I see a glimpse of “Brokeback Mountain” here. He is the man with the right opinions and perfect integrity.

The Captain Bligh character may be less obvious. There is a long introduction where we see how Tom Dunson (John Wayne) loses his girlfriend in an Indian attack and heads into Texas with a bull and a cow to claim land and start his own ranch. Yes, he is a bitter man, but determined and there is so much of the mythological can-do (and do-it-yourself) quality of the western frontier about this character that it is difficult not to see Dunson as a (if not the) hero of the story. Also, come on, this is John Wayne. He may be gruff and gritty, but he’s got that right stuff aura, that means that we instantly root for him.

But he is the Bligh after all. The civil war has practically ruined him. He has got 10.000 head of cattle and no one to sell them to. The market is somewhere else and so he must take his cattle, men and supplies on that epic drive to Missouri. Dunson has eyes only for his target and takes a very proprietarian look at this whole business. It is his herd, his men, his project and his law. He is a man who takes what he wants and he does not negotiate, much like a sea captain he rules his own little kingdom with an iron fist. That fist may work well on that ranch and in general with the sort of people in his employ, especially considering that civilization is somewhere else and the territory is fraught with danger (read Indians and Mexicans). The problem is when the king is wrong. What then? Who tells the king that he may be mistaken? And what do you do when the king insists on driving towards ruin and disaster beyond reason?

There is a role here for the kings fool. An old friend who can tell the king the unwanted truth where others would get killed and that role is excellently filled by Walter Brennan as Nadine Groot. He is exactly the right gritty relief that the movie needs, but unfortunately for Dunson he is largely ignored.

So there is a mutiny. Dunson is deposed and it is up to Garth to take the heard to the new destination Abilene, a route that, as I understand it, has become legendary. Dunson swears revenge on this man he raised as a son and so the scene is set for a showdown in Abilene.

I love the grandeur of this film. It is just so shameless about being so big. Every trick is the book is used and the production value is just immense. I like Howard Hawks’ films particularly because he never seems to do things halfway no matter what genre he is at. This is full throttle western on a level that should make John Ford blush. Just listen to that music and look at those cattle moving across the plains!

On the other hand there are also so many things here that makes me roll my eyes. It may be the age though. The production value is so good that I seem to forget that this film is from 1948.

Yet all those western clichés just rub me the wrong way.

The Indians are savages, a danger of the land as the coyotes or the drought. The only Indian who is more than that is the domesticated Quo (Chief Yowlachie) who, though he displays a certain shrewdness, is only humanized to the extent that he conforms to the cowboy culture.

When Cherry Valance (John Ireland) joins the group he and Matt have a pissing contest over their guns that makes them look 6 years old rather than 30. It is just too lame. Or the sheer machismo in everything from dialogue to motivation in this group of men. It is almost stylized into the ridiculous.

The part I have been wondering the most about however is the resolution. And here I better wave the SPOILER ALERT flag.

 As Dunson rides into Abilene there are only four ways this can go.

1.       Garth (or his men) shoots Dunson.

2.       Dunson shoots Garth

3.       Dunson and Garth somehow gets reconciled

4.       Dunson and Garth somehow never meet (the original “Mutiny on the Bounty” resolution)

Option number one was the solution from the story on which the movie was made, but killing John Wayne is not so easy. Option number 2 was never really in the cards since this is a 1948 big production. You just do no go around shooting the hero. Option 4 simply does not fit a machismo movie like this. Garth ending up in Canada to avoid Dunson’s wrath might make sense, but not to a real cowboy. That leaves option 4 for better or worse.

The brilliant stroke was to include the woman, Tess Millay (Joanne Dru) who break up the showdown and tell them they are behaving like children (which they were). It is a Deux Ex Machina, but it is also effective and leaves the two macho men totally abashed. A surprising show of self-consciousness of the over the top machismo of the film. Unfortunately the movie then goes totally overboard in that solution and everybody are suddenly best friends with Garth going back to the ranch with Dunson. Considering what a ruthless bastard Dunson has been Garth should know better. Hmmm… Maybe that was a little too easy.

I have had a projector laying around for a while, but for this picture I decided to test it on my wall. This was exactly the right movie to use for testing. Wow. Seeing this grand film blown up to something like cinema format was just great. I did not like all the movie, but I can and I did enjoy the scale of it. Yiiiihaaaa.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Xiao Cheng Zhi Chun (1948)

Spring in a Small Town
”Spring in a small town (Xiao Cheng Zhi Chun)” is the third Chinese film on the list. With about 10 years between each film they represent their periods. “Shen Nu” was a silent movie, “Ye Ban Ge Sheng” was a musical and “Spring in a Small Town” is a noir’ish film.  

It may be a stretch, but there are so many noir elements in “Spring in a Small Time” that it fits quite neatly into the late forties. There is a narrator telling the story in flashback with a foreboding voice that seems to tell us that things will not turn out well. There is a very limited cast who seem to live a life in the shade and a lot of the scenes are filmed in a shadowy half-light. Several times I was reminded of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and certainly the director has not been entirely ignorant of Western filmmaking in his time.

But “Spring in a Small Town” is also an unmistakable Chinese film and in many ways it is a film leading up to excellent Eastern films like “In the Mood for Love”. These very Chinese elements can make the movie interesting, but it can also be rather disturbing and sometimes outright annoying.

The story is almost as classic as it is possible to get. In a small town far away (mostly important because it makes the character feel like they are the only people in the world) Zhou Yuwen (Wei Wei) lives a passive life taking care of her sick husband Dai Liyan (Shi Yu). He has tuberculosis and a weak heart and for years he has lived a passive life. We are told that he can be tyrannical, but frankly we do not see much of it. He comes out of a wealthy family but of the estate there is very little left after the war except for a single servant and the fact that these people can go around in their half ruined compound without really doing anything in terms of generating income. Liyan has a 16 year old sister (Zhang Hongmei as Dai Xiu) who lives with Yuwen and Liyan. This stupor is broken when Liyan’s old friend Zhang Zhichen (Li Wei) comes to visit. Not only is he a study mate of Liyan, he is also an old lover of Yuwen. Zhichen left to study medicine when Yuwen was 16 and the relationship was broken off. Instead Yuwen ended up in an unfulfilling marriage with Liyan. Now that Zhichen is back it is very clear that their love for each other never died. Unfortunately there is the little issue that Yuwen is married to a man that needs her even if they do not love each other. To top off the dilemma Liyan really wants to marry off his little sister to Zhichen and implore Yuwen to help him set the two up with each other.

Of course this being a Chinese film the simple solution with a divorce and Yuwen going back with Zhichen to Shanghai is not an option. Instead Yuwen and Zhichen go through an angst ridden emotional rollercoaster of being together, not being together, tempting and refusing each other. In this sense this is a clear precursor to “In the Mood for Love” and there are elements of “Brief Encounter” here, though I think mostly because this theme is so classic, old and universal that the relation is a case of convergent evolution.

Although I am not a fan of triangle dramas, they tend to annoy me more than engage me, this story could have been really good. I am a big fan of “In the Mood for Love” and “Brief Encounter” is in my top 10 of movies from the forties. Unfortunately “Spring in a Small Town” does not really work for me. The technical quality on all levels is simply too low. This is not so much the actual filming and lighting. There are good elements here and although it is nowhere near Hollywood level it is still a big step forward from the helpless quality of “Ye Ban Ge Shen”. The problem is the direction and the acting. Where Japanese directors like Ozu and Mizoguchi master the style of letting the scene itself talk and minimize the expression of the actors themselves, essentially underplaying the scenes, “Spring in a Small Town” goes the other way. It is overplayed and stylized in the extreme. All emotions are written in capitals as for a theater stage and essentially all subtlety is gone. I know this is typical of Chinese films, I have seen it too many time and Chinese television hardly needs subtitles because the actors are hammering the message through, but this is a film that requires the opposite style. You do not need to see Yuwen constantly walking around with her head bowed and turn away her face in anguish. Xiu hardly needs to be exaggerated teenage exuberant and Liyan always looks like he is about to die. It is just too much. In the hands of Ozu this could have been done elegantly, but as it is I just get annoyed with these character. It is so obviously an act that I just feel like slapping their faces.

This annoys me because I want to like this film. There are elements to the story that touches elemental human issues of guilt and duty, lust and love and this could have been great.

 At the end of the day Yuwen has a masochistic trait and she clearly finds a sad pleasure in suffering. She hides in her little mental cave when she does embroidery and dream of better times when she walks the city wall, but she would never be happy running away with Zhichen. He is the dream and embracing the dream would ruin it. No, she belongs with Liyan where they can be martyrs together.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Force of Evil (1948)

Force of Evil
This may not be one of my best reviews ever. I am in Tallinn, Estonia attending a conference and I saw this movie in segments, mostly during a grueling flight Sunday. I was tired, getting up at 1.30 in the morning does that to you, and I am not sure I gave the movie the attention it deserves. Had this been a run of the mill braindead flick that would hardly have mattered, but this is a convoluted story with a vast amount of characters of which many are obscure to say the least. Even under optimal circumstances I am not sure I would have caught all the finer points of this film. As it was I am seriously doubting if I am being fair to the movie writing a review on this basis.

The central figure of the film is Joe Morse (John Garfield). He is a hot shot Wall Street lawyer who has found a way to make tons of money. In many ways he is a 1948 version of Michael Douglas’ Wall Street shark. He is sleek as an eel and convinced that money is the only true value in life. Joe’s main (probably only) client is a fellow named Ben Tucker (Roy Roberts). He runs a numbers racket in the gray (dark gray) area of legality. I am not sure I entirely understood to operation, but it was something about that people could deposit money in a “bank” and if a certain number came out they could withdraw a small fortune. If that is not gambling or at least a lottery I do not know what it is. This kind of operation is apparently officially illegal but a number of small “banks” are operated out of apartments and back offices and they are tolerated. Tucker’s scheme, if I understood it right, was to let the number 776 come out on the fourth of July. Since tons of people would have played that particular number it would effectively ruin those banks and force them into the hands of a Tucker gambling imperium.

Joe’s role in this operation is to be Tucker’s operating arm and make the whole thing legal or at least appear legal. I did not understand how this is possible, but that has always been the job of shady lawyers anyway.

Joe is good at it. He is competent and cynical and definitely the right man for the job. Except for two weaknesses.

Weakness number one is his brother Leo (Thomas Gomez). He operates one of these small “banks” and has a weak heart. Surely it would be bad for him if his operation would bust. As cold and badass as Joe may be he does have a weak spot for his brother. He wants to protect Leo without giving the scam away and so he embarks on a tightrope mission to some get Leo out of business before it is too late and when that fails set him and his crew up as administrative staff for the new conglomerate operation.

Leo is in many ways the exact opposite of Joe. He is an honest guy who speaks straight out of the bag. He is big and clumsy and probably not the best or smartest business man in the world. He run a gambling operation, yes, and it is likely on the wrong side of the law, but the office looks more like an employment project for misfits and social outcasts as if he gave them a job where nobody else would. The symbolism is quite clear: the sleek and legal lawyer whose soul is black as coal and the criminal gambling operator who is actually a social worker with a consciousness and a good but fragile heart.

Leo wants nothing to do with Tucker’s gangsters and nothing Joe can say or do can sway him. As it becomes clear that the gambling bank is being taken over by gangsters there is open rebellion from Leo’s staff and one after another tries to get out of it. Joe is a witness to the deroute of Leo’s operation and slowly his façade is cracking open. Instrumental in that process is Doris Lowry (Beatrice Pearson). She is the good girl who became the secretary of Leo, but now just wants to get out of it. Unfortunately she has been stigmatized as she was there when the police raided the bank and so she needs Joe as much as he is finding out he needs her.

If this all sounds rather complex and confusing then I got it about right. As the movie progresses events spiral out of control of Joe and also of me as the confused viewer. Tucker’s rival Bill Ficco (Paul Fix) appears and wants a slice of the cake. Tucker’s wife has a strange obsession with Joe. Leo’s bookkeeper, a feeble man named Bauer (Howland Chamberlain) falls into the clutches of a gangster (Ficco, I think) and decides to wreck his own damage by giving anonymous tips to the police and somewhere in this Joe’s other weakness materialize.

If I understand it right, and now I am on thin ice, Joe is facing a rebellion from within his own legal office as one of his partners (or employees) are going against him. It would appear his secret phone is tapped and that the police, somebody named Hall, is on to him.

I am sure there are a lot of interesting themes going on here, and I am sure a re-watch would make me a lot smarter, but I am not sure I feel like it. This was not a movie that really appealed to me. It felt like a slow implosion. It was about a guy who thought himself above mere mortals but found out that he was in reality much less. That all he was, status, wealth, integrity, skill, were all illusions and delusions and really worth nothing. Interesting but also very depressing really. I could not root for Joe and Leo was a lost cause. The only sympathetic character was Doris and she was as caught in the web as everybody else and therefore part of and in the implosion.

The Book mentions the style of dialogue and a number of stylized elements. I was probably too wasted when I saw it cause I did not really find any but the fact that all characters were painted a bit too sharply. They were almost caricatures of themselves, but I am not sure that was such a positive thing.

I was probably just too tired.