Monthly Archives: October 2005

About time

I was thrilled to receive the Val Lewton box set this weekend. So far all the films I’ve seen have been lovingly remastered. Sound and picture are as clear as they should be. Extras could have been better. There’s a documentary on Lewton. A couple of the features have commentaries either from film historians or directors who were inspired by Lewton. On the other hand, most if not all of the performers and production crew who worked with Lewton have died.

You really don’t need the extras though. The films still stand on their own merits–well, mostly. Kent Smith and Jane Randolph give performances that are very much products of their times.

The other gem I was ecstatic to get my hands on was Nightmare Alley. Hitherto, previously only available, I believe, as a bootleg. Like most noir films, it’s somewhat disturbing in parts, but it’s riveting. Tyrone Power, in particular, is outstanding. I’m not a huge fan of film historian commentaries as they tend to be boring, but this DVD has two of them and it’s more like a discussion than a lecture. Good stuff.

Sometimes my arms bend back

There have been three episodes of Lost so far and I’m not exactly overjoyed. Perhaps it’s appropriate that the season premiere was entitled “Man of Science, Man of Faith” and that this is a theme that’s been developing throughout the show. Right now, I’m thinking about the episodes for the second season that have been broadcast and the rational, logic-preferring side of me is unhappy.

The season premiere, to put it bluntly, sucked. Yes, we found out what was in the hatch. I fully understand that really there was no answer to that mystery that would have been satisfactory. Stephen King talks about why you don’t want to reveal the monster in the closet in Danse Macabre. Essentially, he says it’s because human imagination is always going to top whatever the author can come up (ironic, because he always reveals the monster in the closet, every darn time).

I haven’t liked the use of flashbacks at all this season. They worked so well last year because they either advanced the plot or they provided motivation for the characters. Also, they opened up the story. Now it seems that this last is all that they’re doing. Harold Perrineau is a very talented performer, but I kinda got it last season when we saw that Walt’s mother not only took Walt away from Michael, but that she managed to make him feel guilty for trying to protest. Did we really need a repeat of that? Jack has problems letting go. Yep, got that big time. Locke’s father is a nasty piece of work, yep, I was there the first time around.

There are some very bright, learned, intelligent people out there on various boards and around water coolers picking up on the show’s many literary and cinematic allusions. People talking about philosophy and social psychology. People playing around with the numbers. And that’s great, except that there’s a big part of me flashing back to Agent Dale Cooper’s dream in Twin Peaks. Back then we had USENET, and I saw (and participated in) some pretty heavy duty analysis. What exactly did it mean about “that gum you like is coming back in style?” And “oh, did you see the way Nadine’s arms bent back on the rowing machine?”

It turned out to be a lot less involved than we wanted it to be. That’s my fear for Lost.

But there’s also a part of me that wants to keep the faith. We have such limited attention spans in America. If we don’t get instant gratification, something must be really wrong. Maybe, like Locke, I do need to make a leap of faith and hang on. Or not.

I haven’t quite decided yet.