The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Another science fiction romance! I had just watched Monsters (2010) on Netflix Instant, and then I saw this one in the theater last night. I didn’t like it as much as Monsters, but it’s a pleasant enough time-waster. It’s based on a Philip K. Dick story that I’ve never read, and it’s about a rising political star (Matt Damon) who falls in love with a free-spirit (Emily Blunt) only to find out that his options are constrained by a mysterious group of men who have a plan for humanity that this love story doesn’t fit in. These men begin to adjust the story.

As a mystery and semi-thriller, this is an engaging movie that rolls along smoothly. Once it was over and I could think about it, I didn’t find much there. It’s a movie about fate and free will that doesn’t actually have much to say on the matter that hasn’t been said before. Which is fine. Every movie doesn’t need to be profound or original. If I wish that Matt Damon had found the mysterious, never-seen author-figure at the top of the Adjustment Bureau and punched him in the nose, well, I should just write my own damned story. Likewise, the fact that the movie isn’t interested in where the Adjustment Bureau came from or what technology it uses to do its thing isn’t necessarily a fault in the movie, just because I’m left curious.

This is fundamentally a movie about a handsome guy and a beautiful gal who are fated to be together and the trials and tribulations they go through to consummate this fate. Or do they create their fate through free will? Oh hell, what does it matter? There are strange doors and strange men in cool hats. Weird things happen (but not too weird). Years pass, but the memories are not erased. Love is always in the air. It smells like victory.

The Spiral Staircase (1945)

This is an utterly gorgeous and atmospheric Gothic woman-in-peril thriller with unexpected depths. The heroine is mute, and director Robert Siodmak draws connections between her muteness and silent film. Like many woman-in-peril Gothics (e.g., Gaslight and Experiment Perilous, both 1944), the film is set in the 1890s or 1900s, which is also the era of the first films. In the opening sequence, we see an audience watching an early silent film called “The Kiss”. Even more meta than that, we see people sneaking a peek at people watching a movie in the dark.

Screen cap from Spiral StaircaseScreen cap from Spiral Staircase
The kiss of death …


I’ve been writing a lot about film in the past few years, and the first impulse behind this blog is to make that writing more widely available — if only to Google. My ideas about what to publish here are still evolving, however, and I’m likely to at least include reviews of the early science fiction that I’ve also been writing about in the past few years. I guess I’ll figure it out as I go along.

I’m still figuring out WordPress, too, but I think I’ve got enough figured out to get started. No doubt there will be a few modifications going forward. And now, back to the film …

Screen cap from Mystery of the Rocks of Kador