I didn’t like it much. The handheld aspect makes it seem like it should be “reality,” but a little while in, I gave a big Juno-shrug and decided that it’s not more “real” than Land of the Dead was, just more annoyingly shot. That’s when you gotta sit back, admit that you’re watching a trashy movie, and enjoy it for what it is.
Rather than waste any more time on this one, here’s a confused and hastily-written email I sent to PG:
I re-read the article (was actually in Film Comment) and they call the movie brilliant without saying why. Film people think that the confused subtext about media people excuses everything else. Gives them license to say it’s a “brilliant vision, an important work, a masterpiece, though obviously flawed”. It’s real cool to champion a genre movie, makes you sound like you know what’s what, as opposed to those high-minded losers who sit around talking about jean renoir and citizen kane. And it’s especially cool to praise Romero since he has the reputation of being an important and gifted filmmaker in a typically ignored genre and has the good fortune of having been Belatedly Discovered in the academic community (sometime between “bruiser” and “Land of the dead”). Therefore, in the eyes-wide-shut way of seeing things, any new film he releases can automatically be called a masterpiece without any need for justification.
Usual thoughts that arise in this situation (“Maybe eyes wide shut IS a masterpiece and I just don’t understand it yet? Time will tell!”) don’t seem to apply here, as DiaryOTD will only get less relevant over time, and unlike EWS it does not have hidden layers of obscure meaning, it splays itself right out on the dissection table for the viewer to feast on its brains. I’ve heard two things from Romero interviews… 1) He is a big fan of SHAUN of the dead and 2) He is pondering an immediate sequel to Diary, possibly re-using the girl-narrator character-actor. It’s easy to find comedy elements in previous DEAD movies, but nothing as outright nutty as that mute amish farmer segment. You can groan in pain at that segment but I found it pretty funny and exciting, and I read the Professor as a comic caricature (which ruins the whole “this is a documentary of something which is really happening” feel), and see a different kind of movie here. ARE romero’s thoughts on the media confused, or is the movie-in-the-movie confused because it is looking through the eyes of two people… the obsessive and immature male media/filmmaker and his girlfriend who never agreed with his way of doing things, and so is editing against his intentions.
Anyway, reason I brought up Romero’s sequel comment and the comedy aspect is because I am going to go ahead and say that Diary is Part One of a new Dead series. They’re not numbered so I can say whatever I want. LAND is part 4 of the original, and the final part to date. If there’s a Diary Part 2 it’ll only confirm this.
Unrelated: Professor reminds me of Mark Borchardt’s actor friend… you know the one… Thee ACTOR. And that guy was a “real” person. But of course, he was on camera, and always knew when he was on camera… so the Professor can actually be seen as realistic, a cross between that playing-it-for-the-cameras american-movie fellow and the Bob Odenkirk blustery prof caricature.
Whatever I was gonna write when I started this email is now forgotten, as was the point I was gonna make on “diary” since I went off on tangents and there’s rock music in my head and I crave pizza.