Alex Ross Perry Deserves More Love: Her Smell

In Stephanie Goodman’s New York Times “The Best Films of 2019 (So Far)”, she compiled among others, AO Scott’s pick “Her Smell” written and directed by Alex Ross Perry.

Having loved Elisabeth Moss in “The Square”, I was up for the scent (get it, her smell). Adding to my enthusiasm was my previous shock and thrill (respectively) by previous Alex Ross Perry projects “The Color Wheel” and “Listen Up Philip” (see previous blogs).

And voila`! “Her Smell” solidifies Perry’s significance in artistic and powerful cinematic story telling. In fact, Perry deserves more attention and love!

“Her Smell” is precisely organized into five long scenes each with an equally different, but engaging impact. The ensemble of actors was perfect (save one). First, the acting super stars: no hyperbole, Moss deserves an Oscar nom making Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash work look like a walk in the park. The other ladies of Moss’s punk rock band were also stellar: Agyness Deyn and Gayle Rankin both superbly raw.

To Eric Stoltz’s agent I’d like to say, ‘You’re fired! This man should not be languishing in lame tv shows!’ He was tremendous as the ‘pull my hair out’ band manager. Dan Stevens was terrific as Moss’s husband and in one of my favorite scenes (part 4 in a face to face with Moss).

The only wrong note or to go with the scent analogy, who stunk, was fakey fake fake Amber Heard who’s permanent shit eating grin simply should be the quintessential poster she-devil on a Hitchcock billboard that screams: Revenge is sweet and not fattening. Heard looks like she’s going to a Halloween party in every scene. But then again, maybe we needed the off key just appreciate all the perfect notes.

Unfortunately for whatever b.s. mass media rules, you can see Captain Underpants on the big screen, but for this quality gem, you have to view it at home. At least it’s available on Itunes!

“The Square”, Way Outside the Box

There were many reasons to escape into the cinema today; 11 hours (in two days) of intense retail work (100% friendly customers though), wide angle steer clear of some who haven’t found their zen, and an ice cold message from a former college sweetheart. Need I go on?

I was even willing to go solo to “The Square” knowing how much I loved the director’s (Ruben Ostlund) previous film “Force Majeure” which was nominated for a Golden Globe back in 2015. But to the companionship rescue galloped my friend Dave, who went way outside his box by attending a foreign film of considerable length, 2:22.

And just like Mikey in the old Life commercials, he liked it! And so did I….but….

Ok positives first:
Tremendous screen writing*. This film had that verisimilitude that the phrase “you can’t make this sh*& up” implies. I won’t give away any of the ‘what the bleep just happened’ moments, but three stand out specifically to me.

The acting was top notch: Claes Bang, who rarely leaves the screen, was totally believable as the museum director who slides down the slippery slope of megalomaniac justice seeker. Elisabeth Moss’s character is if the Handmaid (she’s in the Margaret Atwood novel inspired tv series) got revenge by going off the deep end.

Cinematography, again, gorgeous, from the sex scenes to the art work, to the spiral staircases that symbolically end in a square, just fabulous.

And if the *one wild loose end that isn’t tied up is a message that we care more about the impact of fictional work then we do human reality, then let’s give this movie the Academy Award. Though Ruben should really have a flyer ready to explain that to people on their way out.

My only gripe (besides the obscurity of the aforementioned) was the last 15 minutes. If Ruben had ended it at the press conference, hand the Oscar over right now. But to go on and on meandering to a cheerleader’s competition and then a near miss at a dumb ass parent move (never leave your kids in a car in a strange place) which negates character development (like hello, wasn’t that what got you in the mess to begin with?) was a disappointment. Like a Fuji apple I have thoroughly enjoyed only to find a rotten spot on the last bite, that’s “The Square”.

But all is forgiven. One last bite can’t spoil the wonderful surprises, much needed escape, and calm company this experience supplied. Go see this.