Sweet and Lowdown / Y Tu Mamá También

» 25 August 2003 » In Movies, Reviews »

I found my unwatched Netflix movies while cleaning up after the move and watched them over the weekend. The first one is Sweet and Lowdown by Woody Allen, a fictionary biopic about the world’s “second-best guitar player”. Sean Penn, very good as usual, portrays Emmet Ray, a conflicted, arrogant, self-possessed, alcoholic man who nevertheless has an incredible talent. His strange hobbies of watching trains and shooting rats at the dump resonate throughout the film, as well as his obsession with Django Reinhardt, “that gypsy in France”, the only man he considers above himself in the art of guitar. The film has a sense of humor – it’s Allen, after all – and is punctuated by vignettes of present day jazz pundits delivering some “facts” on Emmet Ray. The film does not have much of a story arc, but the combination of Penn’s performance and the beautiful music heard throughout the film makes it memorable.

The second movie was Y Tu Mamá También, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. It is a tale of two teenagers who go on a road trip to an imaginary, non-existent beach they cooked up in order to lure their object of desire, Luisa – an older, married woman – along with them. The film shows incredible scenes of rural Mexico, contrasted against the opulence of the house where Tenoch, one of the teenagers, lives. One of the underlying themes, it seemed to me, was that of freedom: of actions, of openness, of living your life the way you want. Granted, there are a lot of sexual scenes in this movie, but they serve to enhance the interaction between Luisa, Tenoch, and Julio and bring out each one’s character into focus. The short, voiceover commentaries are perhaps my favorite feature of the film. Similar technique was used in Amelie to a good result.

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  1. andrei
    Ryan
    27/08/2003 at 1:50 pm Permalink

    With all due respect man – “Sweet and Lowdown” ranks with “Heartbreakers” as two of the absolute worst movies I have ever seen. While the later makes no attempt at being an intellectual stimulus, “Sweet and Lowdown” is guilty of, if nothing else, simply being the product of Woody Allen. The documentary style takes away from the “story” that Allen is trying to tell at the same time – so you’re forced to judge Penn’s character whilst being told what to think of the character. So while it’s a movie that you feel the need to have give some introspection to, in the end it’s unrewarding as you come away drinking Woody Allen’s Kool-Aid instead of trying to formulate your own thoughts. Just my opinion – but if you’re looking for a recent movie by Allen that might entertain and stimulate the thought process, “Deconstructing Harry” (1999) might be your best bet. Otherwise, stick with “Annie Hall.”

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