Monday, December 26, 2005

Random thoughts on film and movie

Shopgirl, starring Claire Danes, Steve Martin, and somebody or other: one thumb up. It's beautifully framed and lit, full of excellent writing; it is a good excuse to watch Danes act, and the quiet score is lovely. It's a very wriiten movie, perhaps part of the reason Mrs R.'s thumb is down. I liked how the central relationship between a young woman and a much older, wealthier man is allowed to seem natural, creepy, and then just an occurrence in time. The film has a distancing effect and other characteristics in common with Lost in Translation, which is rather more successful, in part because Murray is better-cast and a better actor than Martin.

Harry Potter 4, starring the Royal Shakespeare Company and some meddling kids: one thumb up. Mrs R. liked it. I thought it was poorly streamlined from the bloated text except for the first few minutes. I found most of the characters to be poorly acted except Ron (Hermione being more or less written out of the movie). Unlike 3, which felt like an actual movie, this was a series of unfortunate scripted events dimly lit. Not even Voldemort was interesting. Partly no doubt the text's fault, describing as it does a humdrum world with some magical doodads pasted on. Why the movie chooses to focus on this by showing a character lighting a gas lamp with a taper instead of a snap is beyond me. (From an architectural point of view, the quiddich stadium and the dragon-jungle-gym of a castle were I thought exemplary.)

Narnia: The Lion etc.: as HP4. The little girl playing Lucy is extraordinary, and the snow was nice. And the bit where the gibbering orcs mock Aslan was excellent. Otherwise I was unimpressed. Whenever Lucy's off-screen the movie loses all internal reason for existing (Peter's face is especially blank.) Again, the text is a burden, and the text it is based on a ball-and-chain - the problem of making God's "sacrifice" of himself seem worthy of human sympathy struck me especially strongly when Liam Neeson wearing a CGI-enhanced lionskin is the sacrifice. Who then rises and eats the bad guy (the excellent-of-course Tilda Swinton in some very odd makeup having to read some clunky lines). And the whole religious problem with sexuality and women generally was a sore thumb here, both with Tilda Swinton as lion-chow and a flesh-and-blood Susan who's going to miss the train to heaven in Narnia:7 for being interested in men.

Mrs. R. notes that Eugene Levy is doing well lately. I haven't seen any of his work outside of American Pie ads, which brought him to my attention, as it were. I wonder if there are any instances of female actors coming to prominence at age 53. Anyway, he's in a new movie (well, a sequel) with Steve Martin in his wild-n-crazy disguise. He's not in the upcoming Sofia Coppola movie, thankfully, though some of the leads' names gave me pause.


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