The Death & Life of John F. Donovan

thought a lot about my blueberry nights (2007) while watching it, for the obvious — both director's first english speaking movies, natalie portman, slow motion, the stilted & lukewarm receive — reasons, but mostly about how they both read to me like an exercice on the radicalization of a style.

neither are big departures of form, on the practical sense, but they're also not merely a flex on them. it's like xavier dolan now, and wong kar wai before him, were reintroducing themselves all at once. watching these films feel personal like we're taking a walk on their closet and looking at all their clothes hanging, or even, their childhood's bedroom with their posters on the wall, but only if such visits we're know beforehand. all their references laid down, yes, but studiously so, like they were ticking things off a list, or like they wrote manual on themselves and followed it religiously. if someone asked me to describe what the most characteristic movie, for better or for worse, of both directors i would probably describe these forgotten ones.

there are the undermine women of color, yes, there's also very few scenes in which the characters write letters, to the point i thought the kid might be confused. too many aerieal shots of new york city, when the story happens on three diferent cities. a whole scene in which he seems to pull from mitski's class of 2003, verbatim. there's also that awful scene in which mother and child find each other, filmed in slow motion, with a voice over, under the rain. but there's also kit haringon, the sweetest kit harington. so sweet, even throwing punches. was he supposed to be that sweet? sweet enough to dissolve. there's also the bathtub scene, framed by those pinks wall, the blunt, bubbles, the puzzles, a mom and her two sons. it was almost too delightful to not to be good. it was good until it wasn't. there was blink-182 adam's song.

there's an often quoted essay by tim kreide for the new york times called i know what you think of me in which he wrote "if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known". i pull it up from it when i say that this movie suffers from the mortifying ordeal of being earnestly corny.

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