Tuesday, June 21, 2005

 

Untied

posted by Corey Reid

Now Out Of Sight is a movie full of the joy of life. It seems to actually GLOW.

Interesting that the movie starts showing us the outcome of the one big decision Jack is faced with. It's that decision this whole film turns on, Jack's refusal to play by the rules that say he's just like everyone else. Eventually the story spirals back to this moment, but right there at the start of the film, freeze-framed in Soderbergh's lens, we see Jack reject it all, and out of that rejection comes everything else about this film.

The freeze-frame features strongly, markedly in this film, as if it were trying to tell us that you CAN capture moments, sometimes. You can hold a moment when it strikes. Maybe not forever, but for a while.

Like Jack and Karen calling a "timeout" so that they can just savour the beauty of the connection they've developed. They both know it can't last, but that doesn't mean they have to pretend it doesn't exist.

Out Of Sight is full of people who do things they can recognize as being, um, suboptimal (like Jack sticking with Buddy, the guy who tips his own sister as to where they are, or Karen dating a married guy), but we don't dislike them as a result. On the contrary, their foibles make them that much more endearing, and gets us all the more engrossed in what's happening to them.

That's not to say we don't admire these characters. Jack's breezy charm and Karen's fiery determination are sterling qualities, to be sure. But this story is far more driven by what the characters FAIL at than what they SUCCEED at. Jack could have had a job, right there at the top of the story, an easy, if not particularly prestigious, job, at a company where he's friends with the boss. But no. And Karen gives up her chance to make the big bust in that hotel lobby when all she had to do was speak into the walkie-talkie.

Why do they fail? That's kind of an important question in this picture, since those failures are so central to the story. Is there a common thread linking those failures? It seems like we could get away with attributing Jack's failure to pride; his pride is too great to allow him to let himself be demeaned and so he rejects the job. But is pride at work when Karen lets Jack go? Kind of, actually. She's just been burned by big Mr. FBI, put in her place, and by letting him get away she gives herself the chance to be the hero later on. So that's kind of pride.

Not sure I'm super happy with that explanation, though. Are these characters then defined by their pride? Not sure the rest of the film supports that notion.

The "timeout" has to feature strongly in any discussion of this film. It's the moment where all the time dilation comes down to the minute, to the second, where every other shot freezes some gesture. They put aside the things that separate them and celebrate the things that unite them. Union is not something that either of these characters finds easily, nor is trust something they give easily. And they've both been burned, while we were watching. Maybe there is something of pride in their coming together, a refusal to accept the tawdry sameness and regulation the world wants us all to resign ourselves to. Maybe what they recognize in each other is how they can elevate each other out of the roles society compels them to fulfill.

Me, a sucker for that shit? Never.

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Comments:
Maybe it's about the character's pride: Vingh Rames is part of Clooney's pride, and Karen joins, too. So we'd be back with the lions.

I enjoy this movie for its style and snappiness. Michael Keaton is great ("So - you're FBI?"), too.

I thought Jennifer Lopez would become a film star after Out of Sight, but instead she became J-Lo. Of course, this movie also cause me to read some Elmore Leonard novels, so not all is lost.
 
Yeah, something sure happened to Jennifer Lopez, and it wasn't very nice. She's so radiant and powerful in this film, warm and human. And now she seems all... J-Lo.

It's too bad.
 

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