Laboring on fresh work. This always gives rise to frustration, long periods of "flat affect" punctuated by bursts of anger, and nights spent sort of staring at the wall. I have to sit in the dark in my bedroom from the hours of midnight to 3 a.m. and try to do something that feels like sculpting a fog.
Last night I saw two movies. One admirable but flawed, one a masterpiece.
The former was Pan's Labyrinth. It is exceptionally well made, but it is a movie for children, with simple and obvious moral delineations, a cute youthful protagonist, fauns, fairies, and an evil stepfather. We meet characters and we know exactly what's up with them. Ivana Baquero (playing the 11-year-old heroine) and Sergi Lopez give excellent performances, and above all, Guillermo del Toro knows how to direct scenes of horror and the grotesque. At one point, the side of Lopez's mouth has been slashed open into a nightmarish grin, and he stolidly takes a needle and sews it back up. Then there's a child-hungry being called Pale Male, whose brief scene is totally delightful. But there are too many problems. (Spoilers...) A woman stabs Lopez, a fascist military captain, repeatedly after he has tortured her--then leaves him alive. After that, I never really came back to the movie. Plus the obnoxious sound design (in this world, merely touching a knife blade with your finger causes a sharp metallic scchhhhink! sound, and every time a pocket watch appears, there's loud ticking) and the fake baby she toted around throughout the film's final act...
And then there is Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men. Just extraordinary. It takes place in a future which is, like that of A Clockwork Orange, similar to ours but wasted, squandered. There are no flying cars here. Technology has advanced a bit but humans are still human, just as idealistic/cowardly/murderous/loving/disloyal/complicated as ever. Except they can no longer procreate. Cuaron's script literalizes the warning that the excess and indifference of one generation will be its legacy to the next. Everybody involved with this film gives five hundred percent, both in front of and behind the camera. The long takes (the car attack, the incredible refugee camp scene at the end) demand repeat viewings. All the actors, particularly Clive Owen, Michael Caine, Peter Mullan (a hilarious/scary prison administrator), and Claire-Hope Ashitey, are awesome. So is the soundtrack. So are the special effects. And this is a profound, scary, intelligent movie. I'm serious, if it opens near you, go see it.
[random update: interesting. this is the only best-movies-of-the-year list I've seen whose top 3 I agree with. i might switch 2 & 3 though.]
What is your favorite restaurant in New York, if you have one? I need some good, and if possible unusual, recommendations.