Speaking for MUTE by B. Roche

Mute is the long-awaited personal project from Moon director Duncan Jones.  As I was watching it, it felt like one of the worst movies I'd ever seen by a prestige director, down there with Gus Vn Sant's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. 

A few examples:

  • There are several disparate plot threads that don't seem to fit together (and seem dumb and/or offensive by themselves)
  • Why set it in the future? Why Berlin?
  • Does he have to be mute?
  • Why is Paul Rudd so obnoxious?
  • Why is Justin Theroux in a blonde wig?
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But then Mute ended, and all the seemingly random threads tied themselves together, for me at least.

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It's the story of Leo (Alexander Skarsgaard) traumatized as a child (an accident renders him - are you seated? - mute), who develops special coping mechanisms and a big heart as an adult; he is strong and, like William H Macy in Magnolia, has "so much love to give" but doesn't know where to put it. He is violent and lets himself be used. Rudd's Cactus Bill (he's really named Cactus Bill) is Leo's opposite. Cactus is rude and selfish, and never shuts up.

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A bunch of other stuff happens (Mute is a solid, Chandleresque detective story for much of its middle section), and Leo is able to use his strength and ability to hold his breath for long periods to crush a predator, thus bringing his childhood trauma full circle.

Mute was a tough watch, but I admire Duncan Jones' ambition as much as the movie frustrated me. I'll take an original that swings and misses over an IP tentpole that's unerringly faithful to some comic book any day. Another viewing down the road could solidify Mute as a cult classic, or push it down the ranks of shame. But Gus Van Sant got more chances after Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, a lot more. Here's hoping the same for Duncan Jones.

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Baumbach's "Lost" Classic: MARGOT AT THE WEDDING by B. Roche

Margot is awful. She approaches people as if to flatter them, with a glint in her eye and a crooked half-smile, but once her prey's defenses are down, she stabs them with a casually cruel remark. She judges and berates her son, her sister, her sister’s fiancé, her boyfriend, her ex-husband, and the neighbors. She shares information others have told her in confidence. She gives unsolicited advice. She writes the private, personal history of those close to her into her short stories, and then acts like she hasn’t, or that it’s not a big deal. 

And yet as played by Nicole Kidman  . . .

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