Quick replies: Roger, very nice to meet up with you, too. Errol Morris/David Lynch is a great comparison with respect to The Cowboy; I find the Lynch example more startling, since his non-actor is appearing in an extremely fictional film as someone unlike himself. (I hope—unless in real life this guy dons chaps and beckons people to hilltops, where he stands under a ram’s skull and issues cryptic threats.) Also, you are onto something about the preponderance of puzzle films, which hadn’t occurred to me. I’ll try to mull this over for tomorrow.
David, I get it about the “momentous forces” afoot in In the Bedroom—they are telegraphed as such and hard to miss, but I find them beautifully rather than interestingly presented. Sorry if I sounded sarcastic about the film; I do think it’s been overpraised, but I also like it. Now: Since I’ve written barely a word about Monster’s Ball so far except the title, it’s not right to report on my raves for Halle Berry’s performance. Obviously she’s weaker than Billy Bob Thornton, as many actors would be next to his freakazoid gift. I think the film takes on the parental culpability you decry quite directly and condemns it. But I’ll grant you that in trying to pack a whole cycle of sin and redemption into two small lives, it’s too neatly allegorical. And a perfect example, too, of your point about the confusing fallibility of lists—a point with which I could not more strongly agree. While I like and admire Monster’s Ball, it feels less like a “favorite” than one of about 17 seventh-best pictures of this year.
But I’m glad above all that you found Donnie Darko, and I love your inspired nutshell summary. It will be nice tomorrow to end on a note of enthusiasm, energized by Tony’s startlingly rich latest post.
And David’s new funny one.
And so on.