Thursday, February 11, 2010

precious: based on the novel push by sapphire (daniels, 2009)

The film's market presence sends mixed signals: on the one hand, I'm supposed to like it, and on the other hand, it inspires craven fear and nameless loathing. Reality finds itself, anticlimactically, right in the center. Lee Daniels' debut feature, all over the place in terms of aesthetic choices (symptomatic of a failure to decide whether it depicts a state of mind or frames its heroine's plight for maximum melodramatic gratification) is a bit of a chore, but it's not a Crash-grade pain in the ass, and its best scenes aren't the ones you've heard about (the television, the De Sica film, the sweaty molestation number) but, rather, almost any scene involving Clarice's "Each One Teach One" peers. Similar to Laurent Cantet's award-winning The Class (Entre les murs), but nowhere near as freighted with dramatic anticipation, the classroom scenes in Precious are buoyant and funny and lack the "this is how you should feel about the character" programming that Daniels feels we need to grope stupidly through the rest of the film.


Afterward, I snuck into An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009), but fled within the first ten minutes - I believe David was still taking Jenny home from her cello rehearsal. Although I have yet to cast off my "Oscar completist" cloak, movies like this certainly make for strong enticement. Not witty at all but so clearly pleased with itself (you ask, how can you tell? when the characters laugh at each other's "jokes," which aren't jokes at all but pleasantries with a little warbly fucking trill emerging from their complacent, asking-to-be-slit throats), harmless, limp, and practically maps out the entire rest of the film (I looked it up on the internet, to be sure), so there was no need to endure the pain of sticking around. If, when the film is released on Blu-ray, I buck up and decide that I have the courage to go at it a second time, I doubt I will be able to watch the whole film without checking my e-mail every 5-10 minutes. Because it's just that kind of wet, flavorless mulch of a film.

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