Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You Work Hard for Your Money

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (2004)
directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
rating: 2 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

Was Lars Ulrich’s father Torben always a known variable within the band? A famous tennis player, yes, but an obtuse guru opining beneath long hair across from his son? Some Kind of Monster says nothing new about fortune and fame, fatherhood, or lifelong friends. So what? It disappointed me because it wasn’t the Metallica movie that I, as a Metallica fan, wanted to see - at least until Robert Trujillo appeared and reminded me of how cool I used to think these guys were. My finally watching this was predicated on Syl sending me Jim Breuer's memories of hanging out with Lars and Hetfield back in the day, but I should have followed the link to Breuer's Dave Chapelle impression instead of logging into Netflix. That said, I've probably quoted Some Kind of Monster enough in the last month to cover for lost time, but who gets credit for that?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Far As I Ever Get

Deadwood (2004-2006)
rating: 5 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

Deadwood is not a perfect show, but it's easily one of my favorites. Even without its fourth season, the series stands complete. A decade ago, Unforgiven was the last word on westerns, as far as I was concerned. It acknowledged that history was more violent than the myths we create to tell our stories.

I was twenty at the time. I liked the idea that a movie could not do justice to real life. When anyone asked me why I liked Unforgiven, the first thing I said was, “It’s a romance.” And it is, book-ended by the tale of Bill Munny’s love for a woman who quieted his crazy ways. I still like that, and probably, if I sat down to watch Unforgiven, I’d enjoy it almost as much as I used to.

But today – ten years later – I don’t care if I never see Unforgiven again. It interests me less that ours is a history of violence, and much more that real good can be found in the world at all. Deadwood, unlike Unforgiven, is a pleasure to watch and to listen to. Characters crack jokes and pal around. They sit and do nothing, but decisions are made. More often than not, the men I like best in Deadwood are rotten, cruel, or obscene, but they are better defined by their dreams than their lowest moments.

More than words, Deadwood revels in voices and inflections. What is smart on the page becomes warm onscreen. One is always aware of the passage of time, which is true of the very best movies, and is really a measure of what I remember, and why. Memorize the names of the dead from an Indian massacre or range war, and what does it really tell me? Faces and stories matter more because they say more about family and friends. I’ll remember them all my life, sometimes in spite of myself, but always to my betterment. Remember the Alamo and remember E. B. Farnum, clear to my dying day.