Friday, February 27, 2009

My brain hurts and BLOOD OF A POET (67)

It has been a long day.

I've been up since 5 in the morning. I've been moving and working and moving and working. I've been serving coffee and stuffing envelopes and training new people and walking down hills and up hills and just generally for the last eleven hours or so I've been in almost constant motion.

And lordy lordy am I tired. My brain just feels mushy right now, like I've been throwing it against a wall over and over and over again and just right now I've decided to finally spatula it off the wall and squeeze it through a funnel back in to its rightful place.

That said, I slogged through one of the worst movies I've seen in the Criterion Collection as of yet and I thought, mind numb or not that you should know so you never, ever have to even think about watching this film.

Blood of a Poet (66) in my meager opinion is the type of foreign film that a) no one ever sees and b) gives foreign cinema that negative, pretentious stigma that drives yokels in the Midwest to shun anything with subtitles. I watched this film twice because the first time I dozed through out nearly the entire film, then felt bad that I would be claiming that I'd seen the film and decided to sit through the entirety of its 55 minutes again. Second time around, I dozed less, but I still missed some sort of chunk in the middle that made the almost non-existent plot even less coherent. By the time the credits exploded on to the screen I was pretty much zonked out, and after a second try I was done.

Let me try to describe this movie to you and I think it'll get the point across as to just how mindlessly over-symbolic this film is. It follows and "artist" who's painting grows lips and these lips end up on his hand and then he talks to a statue and the statue tells him to fall through a mirror, which takes him to a hotel where he looks through keyholes at women hitting flying girls with whips amongst other things. At that's just the first twenty minutes. What follows is a disjointed series of images (some, to Jean Cocteau's amazing visual credit, pretty awesome) that, at least to me in my broken, exhausted state, added up to nothing worth these 55 minutes. Maybe I'm cynical about overly artistic films, but I challenge any of you to watch this blip on the Criterion radar and find any sort of meaning in its slew of near-hallucinatory "artistic" imagery.

Hey lucky for me, the next two films in the Collection are both directed by Cocteau and both similarly aimed at exposing the lasting connection between artist and creation. Somebody wake me up when it's time to watch The Last Temptation of Christ (70).

Monday: Orpheus (68)



With all due respect to your take on this film, I must say that I disagree with you on almost every count-- except when you said that it's visually awesome.
Indeed, it is.

I have never felt that a film needs a "plot" to be good. Plots are simple literary devices, and are not always required. The complaint of the absence of a plot sometimes sounds (to me) like a complaint that a film is not in color.
Many viewers who are raised on color images, feel the need to squawk when faced with black & white.

Regarding (some) mid-western viewers who complain about anything with subtitles: I don't think it's films like THIS one that are responsible for that outlook.
Rather, it is an unfortunate provincial reaction to ALL foreign films that stunts intellectual growth, and often limits awareness of the world beyond the plains. said...

I'm going to have to eat my foot on this one. I was tired when I watched this film and tired when I wrote about it and a lot of the things I said were poorly worded and even more poorly thought out.

True, films don't need "plot" to be "good." It's a narrow minded way of thinking about cinema and though I don't retract what I write, I surely could've phrased this better.

Nonetheless, I find this film boring, tired or not, and though I'm sure it offers up a plethora of symbolic treasures if you invest time in it, I'm not inclined to spend any more time with it.

I will say this, I read Cocteau's statement about the film after watching it and it does give the film context and meaning that make it at least more bearable for me. That said, it also frames the picture as a reaction to the films of the period, a way of showcasing that films didn't need narrative structure. In truth, Cocteau thought of this film as an experiment. And that's not what I want in my film.

Thank you for the comment though, well written and very insightful, I hope you continue to keep reading.