Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Birth and The Deep End

Peter Rozovsky over at Detectives Beyond Borders said in a comment on my comment on his comment that he really doesn't know my taste in movies. Well, some of my favourite movies are pretty obvious (do I need to point out I'm a film noir buff?). I watch movies pretty regularly, even though Kauto usually goes to sleep so late there's really no time. (And he's not old enough to watch nothing but Bob the Builder and similar stuff. Ottilia's frustrated at this - she's already digging deep into Hayao Miyazaki and they are way too heavy for Kauto.) I'd really like to write more about movies here, but I don't seem find the time to say anything substantial. (And here's a guy who's written an introduction to the history of cinema...)

Recently I watched two films that bear resemblance to each other and have also somewhat noirish tone: The Deep End, based on The Blank Wall, Elizabeth Sanxay Holding's excellent and underrated novel, and Jonathan Glazer's Birth from 2004 that has Nicole Kidman experiencing a rebirth of his dead lover in the form of a ten-year old boy. I didn't see all of it, but the rest seemed intriguing enough to hold my interest (and for me to tape the last 45 minutes). The pace is deliberately slow and nothing is really explained, but I was left wondering what the makers of the movie wanted to say. The film really didn't seem to have much beneath its surface, but I seem to have grown a liking to Nicole Kidman and her frail, yet determinate figure. However, I thought this was a much better film than The Sixth Sense by M. Night Shyamalan it resembles.

The Deep End however struck a chord. Holding's novel - which you all really should read - is a clever female noir text, in which Holding handles the theme of a lonely housewife at mercy of a weird and scary world very well. Her prose is so simple that it may fool you to think there's nothing in the book, but there's also hypnotic feel to it. Raymond Chandler held Holding in high regard, and so does Ed Gorman who took care of getting some titles into print recently - the book was first published in 1947.

It was filmed pretty soon, but I haven't seen that film. The one I saw was the new version from 2001, written and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel who also made Suture (1993) which I haven't seen. Unfortunately, since The Deep End captures Holding's theme and mood very well and the modernization had been made with style. Everything seems implausible at first, just like in the original book, but then you realize there's nothing these people really can do. The housewife is falling in love with a petty crook, but that's not because of his good looks - it's a matter of intricate play of identities and identification. There's no one else she can cling herself to, her husband is always away (we never hear him even speak). The housewife, played marvellously by Tilda Swinton, seems very powerful and very weak at the same time - which is pretty much true of almost everyone I know. There's only point in the movie I didn't like: Tilda Swinton is great in the lead, but her looks - her feel - are definitely British.

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