Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: Zen Noir, and A Tale of Two Cities.

What do a modern award winning Indie movie and  a classic 19th century novel have in common?  Nothing, except their proximity in my life. We watched Zen Noir on Saturday night, and I spent some  hours last week engrossed in Dickens' tale of revolutionary Paris. I should do that more often. It is utterly impossible to keep up with everything that comes out. I might as well fill some gaps in my knowledge of the classics.

Zen Noir is a surrealist and minimalist Indie movie that is well done in its kind, but I don't care much for its kind any more.  I am not sure if I ever did, or if I was so desperate to appear with it and intellectual back when that I did not dare to admit, even to myself, that I was mostly bored and confused. 

I remember feeling this way about Last year at Marienbad, back in 1961/62. All the cool people, including my first lover, raved about it. I just Googled it. The screen play was by Alain Robbe-Grillet, that figures. This was the man who started the roman nouveau movement, responsible for insufferable, unreadable works much lauded by the intellectuals of the day. Come to think of it, as nourishing to the soul as nouvelle cuisine was to the body. Quote from the Wikipedia article on the august man:

His writing style has been described as "realist" or "phenomenological" (in the Heideggerian sense) or "a theory of pure surface." Methodical, geometric, and often repetitive descriptions of objects replace (though often reveal) the psychology and interiority of the character. The reader must slowly piece together the story and the emotional experience of jealousy, for example, in the repetition of descriptions, the attention to odd details, and the breaks in repetitions, a method that resembles the experience of psychoanalysis in which the deeper unconscious meanings are contained in the flow and disruptions of free associations. Timelines and plots are fractured, and the resulting novel resembles the literary equivalent of a cubist painting. Yet his work is ultimately characterized by its ability to mean many things to many different people.[2]

See what I mean? They lost me at Heideggerian.  I suspect nobody liked those books but everyone was afraid to say so, the old emperor with no clothes story. 

Zen Noir mercifully ended after a mere 71 minutes. I don't need that much time to get the point that life is a mystery, we all die, and in the mean time we should make the most of life. Like, you know, duh! But it was well done. Elegant, sparse, well acted, some nice touches of humor.

One of the great joys of getting older is that one cares less about making an impression. We have more solid ground under our feet, we depend less on the mirror of other people.
These days, and this has been the case for some decades, I like what I like and that is that. I don't sit around Waiting for Godot. I don't much 'get' Jackson Pollock or Andy Warhol or most non-representative modern art.  

I am a primitive soul of simple taste. I love good language and a well-crafted plot. Perhaps I am just lazy, but I don't want to 'enter into a co-operation with the artist' and bust my brain trying to figure out what (s)he is trying to convey. Keep it simple and tell me a story. 

Dickens can be counted on to do exactly that. I love him.
A Tale of Two Cities is a story of decent people, residents of London, swept up in the collective insanity of the Terror in revolutionary Paris. I couldn't put it down. Will return to Dickens and reflect more on him another time.


troutbirder said...

Indeed. I don't think I ever cared that much about "making an impression." But then it was very late in my teenage years when I first discovered girls. Now in my so called "golden years" that disdain (much lamented of me by my long suffering wife) I've added the notion of "simplifying my life." With those two principles in hand life as a senior citizen seems.... err bearable....:)

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Smile. As long as one has health and a basic income, life as a senior is quite wonderful!