Monday, March 20, 2017

Michael Monday | Song to Song FF Film Review


Every single time I go see a Terrence Malick film at the theater, I see people get up and walk the hell out and never return. These poor people just can't handle the lack of steady, easy to follow dialogue from Malick characters. They don't like or can't follow the hop scotch way of his film making process. The same thing happened this weekend at my Arclight Hollywood viewing of Song to Song, starring Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara and Natalie Portman. If you can remain in your seat during an entire Malick film, you are a true cinephile, you enjoy the challenge of watching and understanding a Malick film, and you want to see the ending so that you can see how this mysterious puzzle all comes together. You are a person who appreciates film making that is non-traditional, utterly non-linear, uses the beautiful landscape to help shape the narrowly defined characters, and use a diary narrative method to guide the viewer as to what happened and what will happen. Song to Song is set in Austin, TX, and this film should be adopted by the Tourism Board of Austin because it did a splendid job in showcasing this beautiful and amazing city.

Rooney is Faye, an aspiring musician who is reluctant to work with music producer Cook, played by Michael to launch her music career. And she has every reason to feel this way because Cook is a predator who uses his position and power to seduce people and throw them away when he's done with them. He hypes them up and charm them at first, but then makes them feel worthless and stupid. He lives off of their co-dependency to him, and when you cross him, he'll leave you high and dry, and he'll find another desperate, gullible person to suck dry; like the sweet character played by Natalie Portman as Rhonda, who then marries him and quickly becomes miserable. He won't even go to church with her. Heathen! While Faye is trying to ween herself off of the poisonous Cook, she befriends and then falls in love with BV, played by Ryan Gosling. BV is a songwriter and musician who works with Cook to get his music produced. Through the process of introducing Faye and BV to the music scene in Austin, the three of them go traipsing around Austin and hang out with all the other fabulous, pretty, and rich people connected to, or are hangers on of the music business. Plans, hopes, and dreams are shared and discussed in these various hot spots, while betrayal and backstabbing are planned in secret. Song to Song shows us how people use other people and how people allow themselves to be used in the pursuit of their dreams, but still wind up back to square one with nothing to show for their efforts; or in a worse situation, like what happened to poor Rhonda.

Malick said the original cut of the film was 8 hours. Although the film was just over 2 hours in length, perhaps another 40 minutes could have fleshed out the characters a bit more. Just as you're about to figure out one character, an entirely new character pops up in the next scene with another dark woe is me tale of misery and broken dreams. As a fan of music, the scenes at the SXSW festival were fun to watch and have a glimpse of the behind the scenes off stage. Malick's camera loves Michael Fassbender, and Michael did a great job playing such a creepy creep. The movie provides many opportunities for Fassy .gifs to be created because he goes through many acts of seduction, bastard behavior, and emoting as a man with regrets and sorrow at a key moment. I do enjoy Malick's style of directing because no one does it quite like him. He is reliant on the cinematography of his films which become supporting characters of his films; often at the sake of the human characters whom are dull compared to the nature surrounding them. Perhaps on the Blu-ray of Song to Song, Malick will add another 30-90 minutes to a director's cut version, if only to develop the primary characters a bit more. But 8 hours of Song to Song would be too overwhelming and unnecessary to tell the story of people trying to share their music to the world - at any cost to their soul and spirit.

Grade: B-

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