With Deadlines Looming …

Morning, everyone! Today is the busiest day I’ve had since TIFF wrapped, so I hope you don’t mind if I do the six-word capsule thing again for the weekly review roundup.

You’re okay with that? Great! Let’s get to it!

“The Artist”: The silent era, recreated with verve. [Glenn]

“The Eye of the Storm”: A most unhappy Australian family drama. [Rad]

Into the Abyss“: Werner Herzog examines a Texas murder.

New Year’s Eve“: Garry Marshall’s awful, awful ensemble affair.

Paul Goodman Changed My Life“: Paul who? Watch;  you’ll find out.

“The Sitter”: “Adventures in Babysitting”, with Jonah Hill. [Andrew]

Sleeping Beauty“: Emily Browning? Lovely. The movie? Crap.

There, that’s everything. And now, I must run — I’ve got two more movies to watch before lunch.

One thought on “With Deadlines Looming …”

  1. I think you greatly undervalue Into the Abyss. Other than Herzog’s stated objection to the death penalty at the beginning, and the interview with the former death row guard at the end, this isn’t intended to be an advocacy piece. Like many of Herzog’s films, it’s an exploration of how an environment drives people to madness. In this case, how an environment fosters a culture of madness so pervasive that the people there know nothing else, and have no idea that anything else even exists. There was never any hope or possibility of these kids growing up to become anything other than criminals.

    It’s also Herzog’s way of dramatizing the conflict between his principles and the absolutely horrific, calculated, dehumanizing and just plain evil nature of this crime. Herzog doesn’t believe in the death penalty, but he’s also pretty clear that these men/boys’ lives serve no purpose to society. He feels that the state putting Perry to death makes the system just as bad as the criminal. But what’s the alternative, to let him rot in prison, an institution Hezog shows as utterly fruitless and incapable of rehabilitating anyone?

    You say, “Unlike, say, Errol Morris in The Thin Blue Line, Herzog isn’t seeking to exonerate anyone or introduce new evidence.” That’s actually one of the things I found most refreshing about it. As we’re first introduced to Perry, he seems like an amiable, almost likeable kid. We might believe that he’s been falsely convicted, or at least that he’s found religion and rehabilitated or something. But Herzog bluntly tells Perry that he doesn’t like him, which is a shocking breach of documentarian objectivity, and then proceeds to coldly and logically lay out the nature of his vicious crime. He doesn’t hold back in the slightest. He leaves almost no room for sympathy. The more we see Perry after that, the more we realize how he has deluded himself into believing his own innocence. He has no sense of reality at all, and his smiling, pleasant affability is downright terrifying. How can a person like this deserve to live? Yet does killing him solve anything or address the root causes that created such a monster in the first place? Of course not.

    Herzog doesn’t have easy answers for this, because there aren’t any. All he can do is watch, and contemplate how this could happen.

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