What do the 1993 film Scent of a Woman and this year’s Triangle of Sadness have in common – aside from my viewing them back-to-back this weekend? They are both highly praised (Multiple Oscar nominations for Scent of a Woman & Winner of the Palm D’Or for Triangle of Sadness) and yet both incredibly long-winded and deadly dull in the end.
The premise of both films is solid – blind man on the verge of suicide and the Uber rich getting annihilated – none of which is fulfilled. They meander off into the corner at the end – picking up toys or running through the woods – essentially admitting that there was no story to tell in the first place.
But the titles have to be the worst. I won’t bother explaining the triangle of sadness – it just isn’t worth it – but scent of a woman? What the hell is that? Is she sweaty? On her period? Or heavily doused in perfume? I still don’t even know.
Who Am I? Am I the sum of my days? My work? My words? My realizations? My nerves breaking apart?
The only thing I know is that I will never realize anything about inner peace. I won’t do that because it does not exist. It is nonsense. Just look inside and see what a bag of nothing it all is. We are fighting for racial justice today? How is that possible? Why was that not solved a hundred years ago? Pick any social issue and think about it. Why does that problem still exist? Principles of love, family, truth, all of it is nonsense.
My existence is nonsense. But I still have a brain and I can process light and heat. And so I am good – as long as there is cold beer and the promise of sex at the end of the day.
It seems that we are looking for the next superlative. Not it seems.
And so, yes, there is this obsessive aspiration for someone who is better than the rest. But can’t we do better than all-time? There’s always Steve Martin’s bit, The Master All-Being of Time, Space and Dimension?
But less that. Obviously. The Essential? The Omni? The Fucking Fuck One? Or what about good old Prometheus. The Prom. Let’s bring it back to that.
“How are you doing?” Yeah, well, I have this thing with the night sweats and being unable to stop my brain and not knowing what the hell is going on with my life and thinking I’m just not where I should be. But aside from that, well, yeah, all is good.
No one wants to hear about it. I sure as hell don’t. Nobody does. Not even the Facebook algorithm. (They blocked my previous post about the Anti-Wilhelm Grunt, implying that I was suicidal. Got to think about that one.)
I knew a guy from Croatia named Milan who complained about everything.
“How are you doing, Milan?”
“Well, I’ve got the rash on my arm. And my knee is a little tight. And my digestion. Never been worse.”
I never asked him again. It’s just a pleasantry and we should just all get it together and move on. It’s a new day. We’re alive and the sun is shining. Even if it isn’t.
Post a lovely picture of food and talk about an exciting new series. And what about getting laid! There’s music and dreams and amazing new things to come. And what about getting laid?!?! Who cares if we all sound like cows in the field waiting to get slaughtered? Relax. Look on the cud side.
So, yeah, it’s okay to be down. It’s okay to talk about it. Just nobody will listen. Including me.
The Wilhelm Scream, a stock sound used over many years in Hollywood action films, became an insider joke for sound engineers because it was an exaggerated comical sound. It fit the genre because it was silly and fun.
I suggest a much more harrowing thing be done for the grunt. An involuntary sound, it is primal, a release of terror, pain or pleasure. I will suggest one for each category:
Stevie (John Savage) unleashes a ghastly, breathy grunt waiting in fear for his turn in Russian Roulette in Cimino’s The Deerhunter.
Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) panicked yet controlled release while piercing his hand in Scott’s Blade Runner haunts me to this day as does the death grunt of The Ugly (Lee Van Cleef) from Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The pleasure grunt is a little more broad, but a simple porn grunt search might suffice. Perhaps try Tanner Mayes?
Andrew Domink’s Blonde is a mostly dissatisfying film which chronicles most of MM’s iconic moments – the skirt flying up, taking drugs, rendezvous with JFK – all of which can make it tedious. The NC17 hype is silly as well, all because it seems of a brief shot of an erect penis. And while Ana de Armas’ commitment to the role is clear, she is exhausting to watch, pouting and crying at every turn. There are also very strange scenes of a talking fetus which really detracts from the film.
However, given all of this, I was struck by some lovelyshots from Cinematographer Chayse Irvin, especially MM’s final moments, over-exposed, drinking and drugging herself into oblivion. It was a long wait and perhaps even worth it.
Brett Morgen’s Moonage Daydream also suffers from an obsession with the iconic moments – Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke, et al – and is further hamstrung by a limited Bowie view of Bowie.
While the visuals are great and many of the song selections, there is nothing on David Bowie being David Bowie except one vague interview that barely touches on anything. It’s not like I was looking for a tabloid tell-all of the drugs and sex mania or even the ego-centrism and abandonment of Ronson and others. It’s just that completely ignoring this aspect of Bowie’s life renders the film, for all of its sound and vision, little more than a Look Video Magazine.
Lanny is a delivery driver and talks incessantly about cleaning the roads of debris to his girlfriend, Vera. He talks about all of the blown-out tires, the plastic and metal of every description, the roadkill in all their decaying stages, all of it dissolving into the pavement, grass and bushes, all of that needing to be cleaned, sorted and dumped.
He then talks about their apartment, how they need to clean the kitchen and cupboards, get everything in order. Vera takes the comments as an attack and tells him she is going away for the weekend. He throws her suitcase down the hallways. She screams at him and he hits her and leaves. He comes home to find her drowned in bath
Gustave Flaubert famously coined the term mot juste. The idea of finding the right word and avoiding synonyms to vary the language was famously seized upon by Ernest Hemingway in his autobiographic tale of boozing and writing in Paris, A Moveable Feast.
I always appreciated the idea and tended in that direction but have come to wonder if it is more so mot paresseux (lazy), just sticking in the word out of habit, rather than some kind of idealization. I still prefer the idea to Mot SAT, but it’s something to consider.