Home sick, which means lots of TV and DVD watching.
Am I totally unhip if I think R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet (the five-part video) reminds me of Dana Carvey's Chopping Broccoli skit? It's like he got up to the microphone and made stuff up off the top of his head.
It's fascinating...it's like a story told by a little kid. "And then... and then... and then..." and the music itself doesn't change at all.
I couldn't look away. It's almost an improvisational opera, except it's written out, and uses actors, and more than six people will see it.
The only thing more bizarre are Burger King's Chicken Fries ads. Hard-rock chicken hair band? And, you know, the concept of chicken fries. As if they're a side dish.
I admit to having had a burger and Chicken McNuggets as a meal, but I never pretended they were fries. Okay, so there's no difference.
The musical stylings of R. Kelly weren't quite as surreal as the first movie I watched today, Lars von Trier's The Five Obstructions.
I don't quite know how I feel about von Trier. He's sadistic to his characters (especially female characters), but he also plays with film convention like no other filmmaker working today. Then again, he seems terribly pompous and self-aggrandizing, but other directors might be just as obnoxious, just not as vocal.
In The Five Obstructions, von Trier meets with his mentor and cinematic hero, director Jorgen Leth. In 1967, Leth directed a humorous, ironic 14-minute film called The Perfect Human, which shows two actors in an empty, white space with a narration explaining that we will see "the perfect human" in action. "Look at him," says Leth, narrating his own film, "Look at him all the time."
At the beginning of this cinematic exercise, von Trier tells Leth that he must re-make this film five times, each time with a series of obstacles that add up to an "obstruction." In the first, Leth must recreate the film in Cuba, using no set and with cuts no longer than 12 frames (1/2 a second) long. At first, Leth pronounces the task impossible, but you can see his mind working furiously to achieve this.
The first film is marvelous, and von Trier seems upset by this. His obstructions get crueler, such as putting Leth in "the worst place on earth" (Leth interprets this as the red light district in Mumbai), giving him no obstacles at all, and asking Leth to recreate his masterwork as a cartoon, which both Leth and von Trier say they hate.
In every case, Leth more than rises to the task, making better and better films as he goes along, defying von Trier's intention of "banalizing" the original.
The fifth and final obstruction was, to me, a bit of a cheat, and almost ruined the movie for me as a whole, because I didn't trust von Trier at all and had to reevaluate all the obstructions and results that came before it.
In the end, I think this is a terrific film, mostly because of Leth, who is an incredible filmmaker (I've never seen his work before). If the short films he created were played without any explanation, they'd still be fascinating in their own right. Watching his process is just so much gravy.
I have Dogville still in its envelope, but I didn't think I could take two von Trier movies in a single day, even if I weren't feeling ill.
After dinner (I managed to eat dinner!), Mom and I watched Million Dollar Baby. Other than knowing it was a movie about a female boxer and that it won the Academy Award for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Film, I had no spoilers about the plot.
It certainly wasn't what I expected. The film is over two hours long, and it didn't follow the usual sports film conventions. At first I was disappointed, but as the plot slowly unfolded itself, I realized that the movie was less about boxing than it was about the relationships between the three main characters.
The final third of the film is truly amazing. Hillary Swank does a fantastic job throughout (I love her work anyway).
Saying anything else would give it away to anyone who hasn't seen the film, so I won't say anything. I'm glad I finally saw it, though.
I feel much better now than I did yesterday and through most of today. I didn't eat a whole lot of solid food, but I did manage a little bit of dinner and lots of water, so I'm ready to go back to work tomorrow.
Being in bed for most of the day has made me pretty antsy, and I got nothing done. I had a good excuse, but still, I don't like feeling that useless.
Back to bed.