Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Movie and Television Reviews for April Part Three
The Executioner’s Song
Another choice based on the fact that I once read the book. I didn’t like the novel and refused to read anything else my Normal Mailer after reading it but the movie is good in that it has all of the novel’s presumed strengths, enhanced by excellent performances. Unfortunately, these types of movies, based on real-life crimes, leave a horrid taste in my mouth. I find them perverse and not far removed from the presumably amoral attitude of the criminal typically portrayed. The titillation one experiences, the ridiculous pretense of trying to get into the psyche of the psychotic, is as heinous as the crimes that are inspired by these things. When I think of the victims, the family members whose grief is ongoing, I am especially disturbed by the choices we make in how we entertain ourselves, whether reading a novel “based on a true story” or watch a movie inspired by murder. Tell the story of those who live with the loss if you must tell any story. Justice wasn’t served and exploring the story is a further injustice for everyone involved.
Snow Falling on Cedars
A lovely, evocative novel that unfolds with the delicacy of a flower blooming, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could create this into something that would work on film. I should have known we were in for a rough attempt at art when I realized that the cinematographer chose to be “creative” by filming things in muted tones and with talented actors wasting their efforts to elevate this movie to meet the quality and eloquence of the novel is simply too painful to describe. Read the novel. It is slow but that pacing works on the page and just becomes dull beyond tolerance on film. This should have been and could have been a great movie.
In my endless pursuit of watching movies based on books I’ve read, I figured what the hell . . . after all, I adored Vincent Perez in Cyrano de Bergerac. But I haven’t seen him in anything else that’s good and this made for television movie is no exception. The description was a red flag, what with Frankenstein figuring out how to live for over 200 years and all, but so be it. I was hoping for a miracle and it didn’t happen. This was just dreadful from beginning to end and obviously meant to be a pilot for a show that never saw the light of day. This movie shouldn’t have seen the light of day. Bleh.
A Home at the End of the World
I read this book on a flight home once when I had already finished the books I’d brought along on the trip and wanted something to read. I grabbed this novel because I’d heard praise for another book by the same author. I remembered liking the book but not loving it. The movie is actually very good with a great soundtrack. The acting surprised me as I never expect much from Robin Wright or Colin Farrell. It shouldn’t be too difficult to take a good book and make it into a good movie, although my previous choices would suggest otherwise. Thankfully, I can honestly say that I liked this movie. I found it poignant without being maudlin, a delicate line to tow and everyone involved in this movie did a good job. Great soundtrack too.
In an era when any movie that had a predominantly African-American cast automatically falling into the Blaxploitation oeuvre, this movie stands head and shoulders above the rest with a surprising relevance. Okay, so some of it feels a little “dated” but it is so nice to see a couple falling in love, a family struggling to hold itself together, and still get a sense of the times in which the movie is firmly rooted. Excellent cast who immerse themselves so fully in their roles that you forget sometimes where else you’ve seen them. Is that really Darth Vader? “Boom Boom” Washington? Dominique Devereaux? I saw this movie ages ago on television and I have long wanted to see it again. After watching it again, I see why. The ending is ridiculous but there is much meat within this comedy to chew upon.
The Tudors, Seasons 1 & 2
Remember when I said that I was watching stuff that wouldn’t distract me? What better choice, then, than this oh-so-pretty interpretation of an historical period with which I am pretty familiar. Of course, I’d already seen it so that also helped. I really had it on more for background as I stitched my way into oblivion. And watching this again I appreciated all the more the truly fine performances. I mean, you simply cannot deny that beneath the lush costumes and pretty jewelry, there is some damn fine acting going on.
And of course, I must needs get my Joss Whedon fix in at some point. My mother-in-law gave me Serenity on dvd so I figured before I watched it I would rewatch the television series. It all goes back to the simple fact that Fox really screwed up when they aired and then canceled this show because they didn’t make it easy for fans or anyone else to follow along and then, because the fans were lost with the erratic scheduling of the original air dates, the show was canceled long before its time. Thankfully, a movie was made and now there are comics. But I still feel deprived.
Naturally, I wanted to watch the movie after I watched the television series. Rob and I watched it together. Then I listened to the commentary tracks by myself because Rob loves me but even he can only go so far before I become a scary, obsessive person. So he lets me immerse myself as far as I need to go and stands on shore, waiting to wave me back to the land of reality where people don’t really know or care what a Reaver is or what “two by two, hands of blue” signifies. It’s hard for me to fathom that there are such people in the world. Is it any wonder I prefer my depths of strangeness?
DIY or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist
I chose to watch this with my daughter. While we watched, she drew and I stitched. It’s always interesting to me to listen to different artists discuss their work and what it means to be an artist. Albeit, some of the people interviewed come off as self-involved narcissists who are more self-righteous than relevant. Nevertheless, I found the documentary interesting and a week or two later I discovered that someone had stolen some of my daughter’s artwork for a youtube video. That wouldn’t have been a problem except that 1) the person didn’t ask and 2) the person gave themselves credit for the work. Wow! I pointed it out to my daughter and the video is now gone. Why do I share this story in connection with this documentary? Because, when I brought this video to my daughter’s attention, I reminded her of some of the things that were said by the artists about integrity and the importance of respecting their work, etc.
I wanted to watch this again because I wasn’t surprised the show was canceled and I wanted to see why I enjoyed the show enough to watch it but not enough to care that it was gone. I think the premise was doomed because how many times could the entire world wake up after a blackout and deal with visions they had while unconscious? I don’t know if there were just too many characters or the characters were not well developed or what. Most everyone in the show was more a situational character than a fully fleshed person. In other words, the personalities were virtually interchangeable and the only thing that defined them was their relationship to another character. Husband. Wife. Friend. Daughter. Coworker. Sponsor. Etc. I still want to read the novel upon which the show was based but my library doesn’t have copy.
Of course this is something I’ve seen before. I always thought that most of the actors looked far too old for their respective roles and the premise was silly beyond words. The music is perky and cute. My favorite part of the movie? Elizabeth Daily. I just loved watching her quietly observing, knowing more than most of the other characters. She’s adorable and sexy and I would bet you that most of the teenaged boys who were dragged to the theater by their girlfriends to see this were not as enamored of “Julie” as they were of “Loryn” or perhaps I’m merely speaking for myself.