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Showing posts from December, 2014

Night at the Museum III - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Bids Robin Williams Farewell

Night at the Museum has been a fun, if not very demanding, franchise.  Starring Ben Stiller, our neurotic hero, and special effects that take us on crazy tours of museums in the US and Europe, the third and final film boasts a fine ensemble cast and two final performances by stars - a very brief one from Mickey Rooney and a poignant one by Robin Williams.  The film seems to follow the "Save the Cat" Hollywood formula that I have just discovered - which is based on a book about how to write screenplays.  In case I am not the last on the planet to discover it and you, too, have been in the dark about it, briefly it is a formula in which the hero, mood and tone of the movie are established in the first 10 minutes (including when the hero "Saves a cat", getting the audience clearly behind him - perhaps as Stiller does by confronting his son who is refusing to go to college, but also by recognizing his son's need for independence), the hero then faces some life cha…

All The Light We Cannot See - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Reads a Novel about WWII

This is a book about stuff.  It begins in the Paris Museum of Natural History, where the blind daughter of the locksmith, Marie-Laure, hangs out while her father works.  His job is to protect with keys and locks the stuff - and there is lots of it around.  There are mollusk shells, and gems, and dinosaur bones and stuff, stuff, stuff from all over the world.  And one of the things in the museum is rumored to be incredibly powerful - and therefore incredibly valuable, especially as the Nazis approach Paris.  It is a diamond - called the Sea of Flames - that is cursed.  The owner will live forever, but those the owner loves will endure endless misfortunes.

This is a book about media.  It begins in a coal mining town in Germany where a technical wizard named Werner lives in an orphanage run by a French Nun with his sister after his father was buried alive in the mines.  He is able to make a radio out of bits of wire he finds in the trash and it brings into his life music, the propaganda…

Birdman (or the unexpected virtue of ignorance) - The Reluctant Psychoanalyst Reflects on Narcissism at the Movies

Michael Keaton, the washed up actor who played Batman years ago, plays Riggan Thompson, the washed up actor who starred in three Birdman movies when younger and who is now making a comeback attempt on Broadway with a play that he wrote (adapted from a Raymond Carver short story), is directing and starring in.  The movie doesn't just imitate art in having an actor play himself - in a role that may earn the washed up actor an Oscar nomination - but it competes with Broadway as "legitimate" theater - taking us behind the scenes as Birdman goes through the paces of putting itself together as a play - giving us the illusion that it is shot in one long scene - that it has the form of a play instead of a movie - it appears seamless, without cut scenes and multiple takes - while noting that the play, unlike the movie, is an unfinished mess that morphs and changes as it limps towards an opening that could be glorious or gloriously ignominious; upsetting the New York prejudice th…