Monday, December 18, 2006

the pursuit of Hankseyness

No matter how well done, a Christmas movie is a Christmas movie. Even one that tracks the formula by inverting it, describing to the asymptote a convex arc where the traditional warm and fuzzy requires concavity.

plops a neo-realist style atop a Christmas film pretending it's something else. Tom Hanks is there, around the edges at all times, trying desperately to break into the frame. We keep waiting. At times that waiting becomes intense, and then, by dint of persistent suppression of relief, it pretends to flatline into something else.

The elision of the arrival of a Tom Hanks movie within the chain of images of Will Smith's movie makes no difference. In the end - right there, at the end, where the images end and the writing begins, an entire Tom Hanks movie is compressed, unseen. Like the 11th dimension within ordinary space.

I came away oddly disequilibrated -- the long askesis of the film's running length lingers, at war with the Hollywood formula it finally/always had surrendered to. The Italian director got more neo-realism into the film than one had any right to expect. Rossellini would have kept the Smiths in that subway men's room much longer, and let the knocking go on much longer. Until you wanted to punch out Roberto, Cinecitta, the projectionist and the parking meter.


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