Sunday, April 17, 2005

Weekend Netflix

I wanted to see Saw when it was at the Charles (briefly) but missed it. Now that I've seen Saw I'm content to note it was worth seeing; I saw Saw Friday and found it pleasurably intense. Are there plot holes large enough to drive an aircraft carrier through? Yes. Is the acting a bit amateurish at times? Sure. But the gruesome audience expectation laid out at the beginning is used with sophistication: will he/won't he--should he shouldn't he--he ought to/he oughtn't--would I/wouldn't I? I fell for it, and there was sufficient creepiness in the setting and the killer's malicious persona to charm the jaded afficionado of cinematic ghouls.

Serial killers are driven to play God: they want absolute power over their victims, and feed vampirically off the desperation, panic, and fear they cause. The killer in Saw is only briefly seen, but we get the sense he also likes to punish his victims for moral transgressions and hypocrisies. Slasher flicks are often extremely reactionary and Puritanical in an ironic way--Saw fits the genre to a tee, and borrows heavily from films like Seven and the surprisingly interesting Michael Douglas flick The Game, but manages to be stylistically unique nonetheless. I did not see the surprise ending coming, and I'm always pleased when a film fools me, and when a film fools me and makes me uncomfortable I'm very happy.

And speaking of films that make me uncomfortable:

I couldn't bear it. These poor kids! They suffer so much, and for what? The chance to be humiliated on ESPN by the word "Darjeeling"? Fuck that. Very enjoyable, but tantamount to child abuse; the vignettes introducing the children are very well-done. Then, these poor charming nerds are thrown to the wolves in DC and we get to watch.

Ok, yeah, I know all this. Achbar's film is lavishly produced and is interesting and challenges to a degree the CW about America's most successful institutions, but I found nothing new here. Noam Chomsky spouts the same spot-on critiques he's been spouting for decades, Michael Moore reveals himself to be the messianic self-absorbed windbag The New Yorker said he was last fall, and some CEO's talk frankly (on both sides of the debate) about business and sustainability. How to move corporations from their current incarnation as psychopathic and undemocratic institutions to a more sustainable business model is the question--you'll find many criticisms here, but what are potential solutions? The Corporation doesn't provide them.