27 August 2011

Bellflower (2011)

From, "As important as the operatic assault at the movie’s end are the scenes of Woodrow scouring the fields in slo-mo with his flamethrower—it cannot be an accident that he is compensating for emasculation with a fiery phallus. That said, Glodell’s awareness about the thoughts of Woodrow doesn’t change the fact that the actions of Milly make no sense. Great art has to contain the perspectives of multiple people, even when one person’s emotions are a raw wound. Bellflower is the work of a director bravely admitting that he doesn’t understand how to relate to women. It would be a better movie if he understood women."


I think Mesh confuses his perception of the imperfections of the characters with his perception of the imperfections of the narrative, and I don't think he took the time to separate the intentional from the unintentional, nor did he grant the film the potential complexity of these qualities being intertwined. The movie's characters are flawed, all of them, and none are explained. The film's goal isn't explanation.

I think the moment you make a rule for art is when you begin to misrepresent it and shape it in your image. In this case, if the movie understood women, it would literally be a different movie. By withholding permission for the characters (and creator) to not understand women, Mesh is wanting to correct the characters, to shape them into other, perhaps better, perhaps stronger, but other, different characters.

The reason this bothers me is it perpetuates the creation of art that untruly reflects reality. It's like if you had a city with dirty streets and you made a film in which all the streets were clean - when you went outside, the city streets would, of course, still be dirty. Only the window was clean. I simply don't think you should demand that artists say the streets are clean in all places when they are not. Plus, maybe no one else will ever make a film about the city, the only record of it will be a false one, and no one will ever be able to know what the streets were really like.

I concede that Bellflower's ending disappointed me (and that I almost walked out during it), but, then, it may have been appropriate for its characters, and, by the way, I wouldn't want to be the people in the movie. I could relate to them because I knew guys like that growing up, and I would hang out with them sometimes, but usually feeling remote, and they'd probably hurt my feelings and I'd go home and write Young Adult Poetry (while they made flamethrowers and had sex with women who were probably impressed by the manliness exhibited by making fun of me - it's a culture I escaped from). I have different limitations and fixations, that's all, not better or worse, and I will always defend an imperfect movie when its imperfections further develop its imperfect characters, because for me the pairing continues to make a lot of fucking sense.

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