austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Listen and hear that brass harmony growing

Another thing we did was to see Wall-E. I see few movies in theaters, but thought it likely I'd see this one, and was saving it to see with bunny_hugger. My comments are probably going to sound very much like nearly everyone's, in that the first half -- very near silent, starring pretty much just Wall-E and Eve the robots -- is astounding, almost transcendent, and that what follows would be generally satisfying if it hadn't such an opening to live up to. I knew from advance materials that the director wanted the movie to look like one of those early 70s epics where there's enormous depth of focus and there's no hope for anything ever, and the visual design captures that almost perfectly. But as it is a Pixar movie, there's not just the little dollops of hope that soothe the end of (say) Silent Running but enough for normal people to feel satisfied at its fanboy-nerd-saves-the-world-and-gets-the-beautiful-girl tale.

The movie, particularly the first half, has been haunting me a while and I think I've finally pinned down what there is about it. The movie is designed to be Stanley Kubrick-ish, and a few music cues and one character's design pretty much scream that. (In fact, it screams that so loudly that I think it made me overlook the bigger point.) It's also got hypnotic yet languid pacing which feels just dreamlike enough to burrow past my rational-brain centers, and an extremely deliberate composition of each scene.

But what really stands out is in the backstory and the theme, which was one of Kubrick's favorites: what happens when people stop living and learn to love the Process. Things are let to run far beyond the power of any of the characters, as if they were actors stranded in a Stanley Kubrick production, and the story proper begins when characters realize they can stop going along with the Process and can act independently. It's certainly something I wouldn't have anticipated going into the film. Actually, there's a moment I loved which Kubrick would never have approved -- in a scene as Wall-E flees an avalanche of shopping carts, the camera loses focus for a second while tracking the action. It's a quite human moment and perfect for the film, although Kubrick would have reshot it and made sure the camera focus was timed correctly this time, or the 25th take after that.

Trivia: The word ``corkscrew'' seems to have entered the English language around 1720. Source: One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw, Witold Rybczynski.

Currently Reading: The Dragon Masters, Jack Vance.

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