Tuesday, December 19, 2006

caught total eclipse on the independant film channel last night. i've not seen the film in 12 years when i literally salivated at the thought of seeing my idol, arthur rimbaud, brought to life on the big screen. it was at an old art theater -- the same place where i would go see the rocky horror picture show as the weekly midnight movie -- that's been since torn down. i was the only one sitting in the audience, which pumped up my viewing experience since i've never had a theater all to myself. alas, right before the picture started a couple came in and sat right next to me.

no matter, since the film, directed by agnieszka holland and starring leonardo di caprio as rimbaud and david thewliss as verlaine was about to start. and when it was over i nearly demanded my 8 bucks back.

i sure as shit couldn't bargain for the 90 minutes of my life that i had wasted on this garbage.

but, as ms. britney spears so memorably cooed, oops, i did it again. it is because any film about writers in general, poets in particular, have this hold over me. no matter how stinky the shit, i'll return to it as a dog would to his own excrement. di caprio is a gifted actor, but his rimbaud has none of the french poet's wicked charisma. di caprio plays him as a screechy little bitch. and one thing rimbaud is not is screechy. thewlis does a credible job as verlaine, and we get some good scenes of both at work writing. however, when we find di caprio' rimbaud back home on the farm at roche composing une saison en enfer he appears to be suffering from a stomach ulcer rather than writing a masterpiece.

blame it on holland whose direction is slapdash. the very well-known segments of rimbaud's and verlaine's life together are sort of glossed over. for example, when verlaine shoots rimbaud in the wrist holland films that infamous encounter as if rimbaud was simply being dreamy and waving a hand in the air as verlaine drunkenly points the gun in his general direction. okay, but for crissakes, anybody who will bother to seek out a film about rimbaud and verlaine will know their stories so well that when those episodes are either glossed over or made inaccurate in the telling there will be a feeling of being cheated.

holland also places a few hallocinogenic moments, such as the vista from rimbaud stretcher as he is being shunted across the deserts of africa, which make no sense regarding the narrative of rimbaud and verlaine's life together. in short, a total waste of time rather than the eclipse so wanted by holland. a pity since i do think the world needs a well done film about the french poets' life together. there is something about rimbaud that makes everything about him, even his life in africa, a continuation of the life of poetry. like rimbaud became the poem rather than the writer of poems. even that latter half of rimbaud's life would make a good film.

but in holland's treatment last night anna had to cover my mouth because of my groans while watching this flick, again.


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