Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2022 6:27 am 
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That's not the real title but describes the feeling of watching "narratology" professor Tilda Swinton and djinn-from-a-bottle Idris Elba crammed into a needlessly posh Turkish hotel room (analogous to the impossibly posh London house for a professor she later returns to) while a lot of glitteringly exotic but ultimately rather tedious tales unfold as djinn-life flashbacks, using gooey, monotonous CGI. while Tilda and Idris continue to sit around in white bathrobes in the hotel room. Into this static basic plot situation Miller, a brilliant action filmmaker, can't inject even a fraction of the magic Apichatpong Weerasethakul achieves with a much lower budget using a less stereotypical version of Tilda in Memoia.

This new movie is based on a 1994 novel by A.S. Byatt. See Bonnie Johnson's comparison in the LA Times* explaining what essential elements the film leaves out from the book: it emerges that while in Johnson's polite view the djinn's stories are gorgeously told in the film, she makes clear that Byatt's lively, independent professor has been reduced to a dry hull and the important strong erotic and sexual elements of Byatt's telling of the professor-djinn story have been excised. If you like the idea of a djinn's life history and "narratology" - a celebration of the tale-within-tale complexity of 1001 Nights-style storytelling, you might do well to read, besides Byatt's book The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, the brilliant novella "Dunyazadiad" in John Barth's three-part 1972 fantasy novel Chimera.

Three Thousand Years of Longing, 108 mins., debuted May 20, 2022 at Cannes, showing also at festivals in Jerusalem and Monterrey. The film opened in France Aug. 24 as Trois milles ans de t'attendre (AlloCiné press rating 3.6, or 72%) and opened theatrically in the US Aug. 26, 2022. Watched Aug. 27 at Albany Twin with three other people. Metacritic rating: 60%.
*"Without the interwoven stories, especially those told and lived by the scholar, what’s left becomes pure, lavish fantasy, likely the film’s goal. Still, it’s disappointing to lose Byatt’s heterodox perspective and matter-of-fact intimacy and to see her theme subverted through a narrowing of the heroine’s role." - Bonnie Johnson in the Los Angeles Times, "Page-to-Screen: ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’ Byatt Minus the Feminism (and Genie Sex)."

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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