Spectrum Check

Sheesh. I just realized that this didn’t post on Saturday as I intended. I’m inclined to pile this into this weekend’s Spectrum post, but I’ve actually got a lot of background to add to the things I wrote this week. On top of that all, I don’t think I’m going to have time to finish my intended post for today, so…that’s that. Here a bonus, delayed midweek Spectrum Check.

There was a stretch in the early-nineties when it felt like crossover foreign cinema–to the degree that foreign cinema ever truly crossed over to broader audiences–was defined by crusty old-timers bonding with cute little kids. I always think of this as starting with the Oscar win for Kolya, but that could be mistaken. Maybe that was the apex. Or maybe there wasn’t actually a trend, and I just reacted with such kneejerk grouchiness to every such film that it felt like they were the only subtitled fare making it onto our local art house screens. That’s a lot of background to express that one of the films I reviewed for Spectrum Culture last week could be easily pigeonholed into a specific storyline type to which I have an instinctual aversion, or at least that I have little faith in most filmmakers pulling off in a manner that’s artful instead of easily mawkish. Luckily, the film in question is quite good.

I can’t say the same for the French biopic I reviewed last week, focusing on that titan of lackadaisical hedonism, Serge Gainsbourg. The movie doesn’t demonstrate an especially compelling reason for being, which it would surely need to do to overcome its worst elements, most notably a reliance on puppet-headed alter egos to portray the lead character’s inner tumult. There’s a lot of Gainsbourg’s music in it, and that will be enough for some. At one point, the movie actually reminded me of the 1978 debacle Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is one of the meanest things you can say about any work of cinema.

I also provided a review of the new album by Yellow Ostrich. I don’t have much to add about it, beyond noting that writing the piece caused me to visit Morgan Freeman’s Wikipedia page for the first time ever.