#7: I'm guessing that whether one prefers Tropical Malady or Blissfully Yours may have to do with whether one appreciates having their sensuality leavened with concepts. Otherwise, I'm not sure why Joe's second feature made such an emotional impression on me while Malady mostly garnered my nod of approbation. It's a brilliantly constructed piece of cinema in its first half, but it's almost as though the passions that burst forth in the second half take their toll on Joe's rigor. To be up to the task, Malady's second half would have to touch some primal center, counterposing something uncontrolled (a touch of Abel Ferrara, perhaps) against the unerring tectonic assemblage of the opening half. I'm not sure it does. I still like this film a great deal, but I'm troubled that maybe it's presuming that Part One moves the mind, Part Two the body or the heart, and for me it's very much the other way around.

[I'm composing this afterword several days after writing the above. I've had some exchanges recently with friends who are extremely fond of Malady and are beginning to regard me as a turncoat. Make no mistake: I still think that Joe's film is a major work of cinema. But I'm struggling with the fact that it impressed me almost entirely on a formal level, as an achievement in the plastic arts. Doesn't it want to do more than that, though? The first half is as beautifully organized as, say, a Robert Beavers film -- cinema as stonemasonry, with the very weight of the images ordaining their place in the overall scheme. But there's this mythological commitment in Tropical Malady that I grasp intellectually but for which have no real affinity. This mainly has to do with my own psychology (I have no spiritual life to speak of, and if I ever did I've since had it "surgically removed," as Peter Sellers put it), and I can't fault Joe or his film for exploring a dimension of human experience that somehow eludes me. At the same time, the formal precision of Tropical Malady is available to me elsewhere in the avant-garde, without the specific narrative and mythopoetic demands Joe's film makes of me. So I remain convinced that Malady is something major, and probably something of lasting importance, but even after the confirmation of second viewing, something about the film is drifting away from me. I can't really explain it, but I suspect I may dislike this film in years to come, and might even come around to liking it more than I do now at some more distant point in the future.]

(To put this in context, my relationship to cinema as a whole is becoming less and less distinct to me, and Malady may just be the lightning rod that's absorbing this errant energy right now, the way Not On the Lips did several months back. Maybe this happens to everybody eventually.)