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Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Punch-Drunk Love, Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson.

I liked it. And, I understand why Mr. Sandler's core audience hated it. Yes, he's doing the same random stuff -- the ranting, the breaking, the man-child voice -- but, he's doing it within the context of a character, and not out of schtick. Barry Egan (Sandler) suffers from a good-sized anxiety disorder (probably social), and his rages are rooted in the understanding that he's unable to relate to other people in a normal fashion. He's punishing himself and his world with his actions.

Because the film is coming from Barry's point-of-view, and because PT Anderson is not a subtle filmmaker, it's clear that the roots of Barry's rages lie within his seven sisters. Are the sisters really shrill harpies? Unclear, since we're not getting an unbiased viewpoint. However, the fact that Barry has so many sisters, and the fact that it's a woman, Lena Leonard (Watson), who is able to break through his defenses by figuring out a way to communicate with him ("I'm going to dinner tomorrow night. Would you like to go with me?" "Yes." "Should I give you my number?" "Yes.") leads me to think that Punch-Drunk Love is actually a critique of Fight Club.

Jean-Luc Godard said that the best form of film criticism is to make another movie. There's a line in Fight Club -- "We're a generation of men raised by our mothers. I'm not sure that another woman is what we need in our lives." -- that I think Anderson objected to, and decided to address. I don't have any back-up for this, but, as a critic, I really don't need any.

Adaptation, Directed by Spike Jonze. Starring Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper.

Again, I really liked it. I like Charlie Kaufman's writing. I like the fact that it's not needlessly surreal. I liked the fact that it had two -- count 'em, TWO! -- deus ex machinae. I like the fact that I used the word machinae. I like the fact that I somehow knew that machinae was plural for machina. I don't really like the fact that a) no one will be impressed by that, and b) even if someone were impressed by that, there's no way to let me know since the YACCS comment thing is busted. Of course, there's always email.


As a side-note, if you're scoping out bass-lines to play in your head as you enter a room all bad-ass (I'm fond of hyphens in this sentence), I'd suggest that you check out Transplants, featuring Tim Armstrong from Rancid, Travis Barker from Blink 192 (I'm soooo sorry) and Rob Aston from no damn where I know. Bad-ass bass-lines in abundance. Plus some pretty tight grooves.

Comments by: YACCS