Friday, July 13, 2018

in passing

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette, Madeleine Parry & Jon Olb, 2018

While I don't particularly like Nanette as stand-up, I know that reactions to performances like this are highly subjective. Plus it sure is a neat piece of storytelling and audience control, so my negative reaction is more about its reception than about the thing itself. I just don't buy into the idea that something which triggers dozens of almost identical think pieces in just a few weeks can be a "watershed moment" or a "game changer". The vocabulary to describe this obviously already was there, as this is, point for point, tailor-made for its think piece producing target audience. Anyway, burdening popular culture with promises of salvation (while rejecting its most interesting part: its paradoxes) almost always is a bad idea.
Admittedly I'm a big fan of stand-up without actually having experienced a lot of it. But still I think it isn't a big risk to claim that a random evening in a headliner-free NYC comedy club contains more friction and energy than this.

Die Sexabenteuer der drei Musketiere, Erwin C. Dietrich, 1972

A succession of atrocious sex jokes, filmed as awkwardly (and slowly) as possible. the complete absence of even the faintest notion of craft leaves room, though, not only for formalist humour (the repeated pans over pastoral landscapes), but also for a number of small beauties: a man almost elegantly sliding into a duel scene because the floor is slippery, the lingering shot of a woman stretched out in the hay a few feet apart from a pining, but inactive man, several naked men walking in line through a dark, vaguely medieval room, trying way too hard to coordinate their movements. the one really beautiful scene that somehow managed to slip in - involving a frog sitting on ingrid steeger's breast - is worth more than anything someone like Inarritu has ever done. the dialectics of film history.

I Spy, Allan Dwan, 1934

Not nearly good enough to be the missing link between A Modern Musketeer and Trail of the Vigilantes, but it is in the same vein: an absurdist, fast-moving comedy informed by the kind of popcultural knowingness and ironic detachement usually attributed to postmodernism. Dwan is perfectly suited for material like this - it's all about engineering and when he manages to boil down the story to pure mechanics (Ben Lyon bouncing around between two tough guys in one moment, and basically being thrown into an airplane into the next), it works beautifully. Some parts of it have a nice silent comedy feel to it and Lyon gives a wonderful deadpan performance. There is enough energy here, but not quite enough ideas to sustain it for 62 minutes.

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