I almost didn't wake up in time to leave for the maid, but a nightmare about 8 1/2, which I'd watched last night, woke me just in time.
Here are some signs I didn't get nearly enough sleep;
1) I settled for a muffin at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for breakfast.
2) I almost banged up my car pretty good in the Hillcrest Landmark parking garage.
3) After purchasing my ticket, it took me a couple of minutes to figure out which of the five, clearly marked theatres was screening Mirrormask.
4) As I was leaving the parking garage, the lady I gave my parking validation to asked with a thick accent, "Where did you go?" ME: What? HER: Where did you go? ME: Who? HER: You! ME: Oh. The movies.
5) I found my way back on surface streets. On one street, it was clear that I was going to need to U-turn at the next intersection, and I couldn't remember whether or not one was allowed. I made a mental note to check when I was in the left turn lane. About fifteen minutes later, I reminded myself. ME: To do what? OTHER PART OF ME: To check to see if you can U-turn! ME: Why? Where? OTHER PART OF ME: Why, over . . . wait, why're we moving in the other direction already? ME: We're going home. This is the way. OTHER PART OF ME: Yes, but we needed to U-turn. We must have U-turned to have been moving in this direction. Why can't we remember--oh, never mind . . .
Anyway, here's some more on movies I've seen lately;
First of all, Roger Ebert's review is retarded. Ebert himself admitted on Ebert and Roeper that he was biased against Fantasy movies, which was pretty clear to me from his Lord of the Rings reviews. You could tell he really hated to admit that those were good movies.
But, fortunately, albeit quite against my will, his review lowered my expectations, so I was partially pleasantly surprised--and partially I got exactly the good movie I was expecting.
I went to Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's panel on Mirrormask at the Comic-Con a couple of years ago, which would have made anyone excited to see the movie. Even Tim, who was with me at the time and has little interest in that sort of movie these days, seemed somewhat engaged by the presentation.
Anyway, as the movie started, I sort of regretted having watched 8 1/2 the night before, as it was suddenly clear to me that Mirrormask was, in some ways, a similar animal, only not nearly as good. And I became a little frustrated with the beginning of the movie, which was awkward and laden with some too obviously expository dialogue. I began to wish actually that the movie was more like what some of the negative criticisms about it said it was; a confusing and nonsensical ride.
I didn't really get into the proper mindset for the movie until the character Valentine started talking about his tower. His tower, his tower--kept mentioning it until finally the pervert in my brain woke up and said to the rest of me, "Oh, I get it."
Valentine is for this movie what David Bowie's crotch was in Labyrinth. Or, really, where Jareth's relationship with Sarah was meant to deal with a teenage girl's emerging sexuality in Labyrinth, so was Valentine's relationship with Helena in Mirrormask.
Mirrormask, in the early stages where Jim Henson Co. was just approaching McKean and Gaiman about it, was meant to be a sequel to Labyrinth. So I can very easily picture the two sitting at a table and tossing about what they liked about Labyrinth. And, personally, the sexual undertones would have been pretty high on my list, so I just about fell in love with Mirrormask at that point.
McKean's imagery is wonderful, and his stylistic use of cuts at times made me wish it were more of a Dionysian film. Gaiman, though, is the most Apollonian of writers. And perhaps that's why Ebert didn't get it.
Gaiman carefully crafted in little fun and interested ideas in bits of dialogue that contribute to a whole that generally mirrors those little bits. And the detours are nice and welcome--like the floating giants, which was a sweet, sad moment.
I think the only thing I'd really change is that I'd remove the very last, one-word line in the movie.
Stephanie Leonidas, who plays Helena, looks like a young female Cary Grant.
Now this was brilliant. And no, can you believe it, I'd never seen it before!
It starts with an easily interpretable dream sequence; Guido, a film director, is stuck in oppressive traffic. He struggles out of his car to then float away . . . only to be pulled down from the clouds by his producer.
What follows is Guido's wanderings through a life cluttered with a wife, mistress, producers, a cardinal, a difficult writer, anxious financiers, and an assortment of more difficult to label others.
The movie's about truth, and the usefulness of truth or the truth in lies . . . among other things. Mainly the movie is itself. That's one of the marks of a great movie--it doesn't need to be reduced to what its themes and plot are. It is it's beautiful self, and that's enough.