365 films, 365 days, a year of cinema.

Rivers and Tides December 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — welch742 @ 9:51 pm


Day 35


Art and Time have always seemed to have a long-term relationship. Great art takes time to create, to properly evaluate, and most art is created using materials (marble, canvas/paint, metal) that they hope will stand the test of time. This long-term relationship is important because most art is created for spectators, and a sense of permanence is necessary so that it can be properly digested.  Rivers and Tides flips this relationship on its head by introducing us to Andy Goldsworthy, a natural sculptor and artist. Goldsworthy is notable because he only works with material he finds in nature (ice, rocks, roots, leaves, etc.) and he allows his works to interact with their surroundings.

What that means in a nutshell is that Goldsworthy goes out into nature and builds various works of art and then allows nature to have their way with them. No matter the size, the detail of the piece, or the time it took to make, Goldsworthy allows his works to be consumed by the environment he pulled them from. This may be hard to grasp without seeing his work firsthand, but let me try to elaborate using a picture or two. Take a look at this piece of art for example:



Goldsworthy created this by taking various size chunks of icicles and putting them together using only the cold air and the heat from his hands. He did this over the course of one night, and after finishing it he photographed it and let nature run its course. The sculpture melted very quickly after the sun rose, and if not for the documentary crew filming, no other human soul would’ve had hard evidence that it had ever existed. Goldsworthy’s method fascinates me because he truly has no interest in his art as a commercial product. He truly uses only what nature provides to him, and he accepts that often times his projects fail: beautiful webs of sticks get blown apart by wind, massive rock formations fall apart as the earth shifts, the slightest incorrect touch brings down a complicated  composition of leaves. His work’s relationship with time produces actual stakes that make every completed work seem more impressive and breathtaking than the last, especially since the beauty is always fleeting.

However fleeting it is, Goldsworthy work’s are truly beautiful. If anything Rivers and Tides is a successful documentary because of the amazing works of natural art it displays, like this for example.


Goldsworthy created this using various color leaves, with a weird type of root making the black spot in the center. There were no paint or artificial substances used, even though in picture form the center spot is so black it looks fake. This particular work does not even get very much mention in the documentary and there are eight to ten more that we see from start to completion that look almost too good to actually exist.

Rivers and Tides isn’t completely perfect though, and despite its interesting concept and beautiful imagery, it sometimes feels hollow. Goldsworthy is a very intriguing main character and his methods are unique to say the least, but we never really learn too much about him. He gives us a glimpse into his life, his influences, and how he works, but overall we never truly understand why he has devoted his life to such an interesting pursuit. That does not make the documentary any less fun to watch, but when I was done I could remember almost everything he made, but I did not really remember anything notable about the person making them. Still in terms of visually interesting and thought provoking documentaries you could do a lot worse than Rivers and Tides. Even if you have no interest in art, it still has plenty to offer.


Up Next: My look at Billy Wilder continues with an analysis of his harsh look at alcoholism, The Lost Weekend.



The Heartbreak Kid December 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — welch742 @ 4:00 am


Day 34


Love isn’t the only thing that blows about The Heartbreak Kid!  Zing!  Ok, now that I have that out of my system I will say that The Heartbreak Kid wasn’t that bad.  It had some funny moments and Ben Stiller was his normal neurotic self, but outside of that most everything else was a mess.   The problem with movies like The Heartbreak Kid is that they don’t know whether to be gross out screwball comedies or whether to be more of a heartfelt romantic comedy.  Instead they fall somewhere in between and the result is a film with very uneven tone and characters who feel underdeveloped and uninteresting.  None of those things lead to a good movie and it’s a shame that the Farrelly brothers have fallen so far after There’s Something About Mary.

If you haven’t seen the movie, you don’t necessarily have to read a plot synopsis to catch up, but just take my word for it when I say the characters in The Heartbreak Kid do some terrible things. The plot is littered with infidelity, dishonesty, and just general mean and thoughtless behavior, but that’s not why it’s a bad movie. Plenty of contemporary raunchy comedies are filled with characters who have questionable moral compasses, just look at  The Hangover or Grown Ups. We watch movies like The Heartbreak Kid because they are full of outrageous scenarios that we would never want to experience first hand. It can be fun to watch people squirm,  but for the movie to ultimately succeed, the characters have to be likable throughout the film. It isn’t enough for the lead character to have a moral breakthrough at the end of the movie; it will just feel hollow and unearned without actual character development. It is ok for Phil to be a douche-bag for the entirety of The Hangover because we know deep down he actually is a solid person who cares for his friends. The movie tells us this through his attitude and demeanor, and while his actions aren’t altruistic, we can forgive him.

The Heartbreak Kid never makes that same connection to its characters, and its frustrating because it easily could have. Eddie, Ben Stiller’s character, is put in a terrible situation. He’s had a rough few years finding love and the one time he rushes into a decision it turns out he married a psychopath. We can certainly empathize with him, but it’s not enough to justify how poorly he treats everyone else in the film. There are no consequences to his decisions and even when things fall apart, I found myself happy that he had failed. That is not a good thing when you are trying to push the love story aspect of your movie. The ending should have set itself up as a moment of redemption for Eddie. Instead it allows him to wallow in the terrible choices he made, and then out of the blue try to win the girl of his dreams back. He doesn’t make any personality changes or revert to being the likable person at the beginning of the film. Instead we watch him desperately beg for happiness and the film happily gives it to him. It tries to pull it away at the very end, but at that point it was too little, too late. I had already given up hope that any of the characters of the film would make me feel anything other than anger, and anger isn’t the best emotion to feel when watching a romantic comedy.


Up Next: Nature becomes art in the documentary Rivers and Tides.