Defending Bubble.
What to do when friends disagree over movies?

Jessica Poundstone wrote in to take issue with Adam Walter’s assessment of Soderbergh’s Bubble:

The real reason I’m commenting is that I think Bubble deserves a much more careful viewing than Mr. Walter has given it. I’m not saying it’s one of Soderburgh’s very best, but I thought the film was a fascinating attempt to make a movie via a method (using non-actors, filming in their own town using elements of their real lives) that yielded a film with a very specific and unusual kind of atmosphere. (It’s as distinctive an atmosphere as the one Mike Leigh achieves using his methods.)

I’m tempted to do a point-by-point rebuttal of Walter’s review, since I disagree with nearly all of it. But due to time limitations, I’ll just take on this one. About the end of the film, Walter states:

“…Soderbergh is able to set up one character’s church experiences as the impetus for a heinous crime. And that’s the note the film ends on, and quite abruptly. Aha, another Christian loony–obviously that explains everything. Say no more, say no more.”

I didn’t love the end of the film either, but the motivations of the character Walter is referring to have nothing to do with Christian faith, and everything to do with a psychological dysfunction. (I don’t want to say too much – it would spoil the ending.) It’s for that reason that the ending falls a bit flat. You’re left with the feeling that the culprit is not truly at fault for the crime committed. But there are fascinating character studies along the way, and amazing performances by the non-actors throughout. Unexpected and intriguing relationships abound; the fact that they are set against such a dead-end town (it’s supposed to look bleak, Mr. Walter, because it in fact *is* bleak!) makes the characters’ investments in those relationships even more poignant. Plus a bonus: you’ll never shake the creepy-comical images of the dolls being manufactured at the factory where the main characters work – those alone are worth the price of the rental. So I say, give Bubble a chance!

Debating Proulx
Remember author Annie Proulx’s bitter rant about Brokeback Mountain losing the Best Picture Oscar? Nothing could have made me less interested in reading her stories than such a bitter meltdown. Apparently Josh Olsen– the guy who wrote the A History of Violence screenplay, and who won ZERO Oscars (whereas Brokeback won three) — is a much better sport.

(Thanks, Christian.)

Sniffing Paste
Andy Whitman gives us a sneak peek at the new issue of Paste!

Raising Risen
And meanwhile, I should note that my film reviews in Risen magazine have gone from a one-page spread to a two-page spread for the new issue. Subscribe now! And thank editor Steve Beard for his work on one of the most visually stunning magazines in circulation.

Razzing refs
It’s a film that the Seattle Seahawks and their fans should love. New Line is prepping a comedy about bad NFL refs who fix games and mess things up. Might as well be based on the recent Super Bowl debacle…

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