The '01 Skandies list was full of movies I'd already seen, but so long ago that I didn't trust that I still agreed with my earlier judgment. Time for some rewatches.

Mulholland Dr.
David Lynch, 2001
#2, 2001 Skandies

The first time I saw this I thought we had a handful of great scenes (Betty's audition, hot girl-girl action, Club Silencio) that somehow managed to work their way in among Lynch's usual curtained rooms full of dwarfs. But those scenes depended on casting a hypnotic spell (which can't last forever) and on the element of surprise (which doesn't work twice, barring a convenient head injury) and so as my experience of the movie faded into memory I began to assume that I had overrated it. And, yes, this time around those scenes didn't wow me quite as much... but I also appreciated the rest of the movie more, so ultimately my opinion of the film remains as high as it was after my first viewing. Knowing the overall shape of the film, I was able to pick up on the Spider and Web-like moments where Betty receives a "That isn't important" message from Diane; perhaps more importantly, I knew what really wasn't important, and so didn't get as exasperated with the fact that Lynch starts off by tossing out way too many plot threads to keep track of. Knowing that I wouldn't be responsible for piecing all those disparate opening gambits into a coherent whole made it easier for me to enjoy them for themselves.

Ghost World
Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff, 2001
#4, 2001 Skandies

Hmm, I think the first article still covers all I have to say about this one. Though I hadn't read the original comics at the time that I wrote that, so I guess if I had to write a paper on this movie — say, through a miracle of time travel, for the film adaptation class I took in my senior year of college — I might well tackle the question of how it changes the themes of the story to move both Enid and Becky into the 99.9+ beauty percentile. Does it alter our understanding of the characters, or do we process movies and television as a separate level of reality in which we take our cues from other characters — e.g., if they react to the lead characters as if they were the average janes of the comic rather than, y'know, Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson, we eventually do the same?

The Man Who Wasn't There
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, 2001
#5, 2001 Skandies

In my first writeup of this film I noted that the Coens just make the same movie over and over — some schlub tries to pull off a fairly petty scheme to get ahead, then gets buried in a cascade of bemusing events — in different genres. Since then I've seen three more of their movies and they've all been the same thing. We got the romantic comedy version, the taut thriller version, and the satirical spy movie version. This is the noir version. I guess I can now see why some flipped out about it — as noir, it's great: the faces, the shadows. The same way No Country for Old Men was great as a taut thriller. But I think by now I'm on record about how interested I am in formal experiments in cinema.

Ian Watson, Brian Aldiss, and Steven Spielberg, 2001
#7, 2001 Skandies

And that makes me four for four in more or less sticking with my original assessment, though in this case I think I'm leaning slightly more toward the negative side than before. After it was over I spent some time trying to articulate to myself why the whole thing gave me "do not want" vibes, and while some of it is clearly a reaction the filmmakers are deliberately cultivating with David's behavioral uncanny valley, I think that quite frankly a lot of it boils down to the fact that I find Haley Joel Osment kind of repulsive. Not sure why.

I also couldn't help but be reminded of Gunnar's point in The Greenlanders that much of what is so compelling about children is "the manner in which the passing days flit across them, so that they are themselves and yet not the same as they were." David is intended as a substitute for the child the Swintons have lost, but... surely they didn't want their son to be eleven years old forever? In mourning him, weren't they mourning the twelve-year-old and the teenager and the adult they thought they would never know? And if it really was the eleven-year-old and only the eleven-year-old they were mourning, then the simple passing of time is a greater tragedy than any injury or illness... which I guess is the point of the mass production we see ramping up at the end. Hell, I guess some people out there want to look after a two-year-old for eighty years or there wouldn't be such a brisk trade in parrots. Still, for this issue not to be raised (other than the rather different discussion about how Monica will die and David won't) strikes me as kind of weird.

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