Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pansy's Movie Sunday

This Sunday was hot, so it was the blessed AC at (and passes, the only reason to brave) The Pacific Theaters at The Grove.  I won't go into the idea that in the midst of an actual city comprised of actual neighborhoods that people want to congregate in a bad simulacrum of some town square in Iowa; just the endless piped-in music makes me pray for the big one.  But I had passes, soooo...

First up was "Mamma Mia" and a good time was had.  I love that this is making money and am shocked that Hollywood is shocked that this, along with "Sex and the City" would make money.  This if anything should put paid to the idea that the Gays control Hollywood.  Hello!  If we did, these movies are all you would see!  C'mon: Meryl bouncing around, singing up a storm and playing around in a role that she is truthfully 20 years too old for?  (before you throw stones, she's supposed to be the mother of a 20 year old, the product of a youthful, serial fling when she was a dancing queen of 17.  Do the math)  Not to mention the movie doesn't make the point that it's happening in, say 1999.  Because that free-love could have happened in '79.  Trust me in '89 there was no free love.  There was no shared chap-stik.

Later was "Brideshead Revisited".  I will reserve most judgements until I can re-read the novel that I last read about 1978 or perhaps revisit the miniseries that Netflix refuses to send to me, but I think that the movie simplifies and dumbs down both for modern audiences.  The people in the novel are almost alien to modern audiences, for good or bad (I vote good) the idea of repressing ones self in the name of religion, class or what's generally considered to be good taste is in these days as obsolete as the crank that Charles and then Sebastian uses to start his car.  As a matter of fact modernity and good taste conspire to smother this movie: modernity in that the relationship between Charles and Sebastian can be neatly boxed in a single uncomfortable kiss and good taste manages to strangle much of the rest.  But if you've never read the book or seen the 1981 miniseries, you'll have a good time.  

The only other thing that struck me is that the guy who plays Charles and I have exactly the same eye color, even to being green, grey or blue depending upon the clothes.  That and the fact I was mentally registering the crystal. silverware, statuary and drapery I suppose reflects upon the whole experience as stuff-porn rather than being engaging as actual storytelling.  But I am all over the stuff-porn, especially when it's this high grade: this is Columbian Flake Stuff-Porn, delivered by high-cheekboned earnest RSC actors.  For G-d's sake Emma Thompson's here, dead as smelt, directed to take a role that is supposed to be captivating but..

Oh go see it.  Any movie that's designed to be for someone who is thinking, like this. deserves it. 

So, the three of you who might read this and who might or might not channel Anthony Blanche, what did you think?


Billy D said...

Oo, sorry I didn't read this review before I posed on PP. Well you're right on about Emma Thompson. I don't recall ever being so bored by a Thompson performance (even in Love Actually!!). And I don't know if I was the only one, but I couldn't stand the actress who played Julia. No spontaneity at all. Matthew Goode serves his purpose, but Ben Whishaw as Sebastian was really something. Bordering on the cliche, but also quite visceral. The whole gay waif wasting away into alcoholism is so tired though. And of course, a big speech at the ball! Honestly, I thought the kissing scene was the best in the movie. It probably comes the closest to actual character development in the whole movie.

Mamma Mia! Why is Meryl so fidgety!!?? Jesus woman, calm down! I know you're singing Abba, but that doesn't mean you have to genuflect every syllable. Amanda Seyfriend is also hyper excitable in the role, but she has screen presence, and a voice, and a FACE (they don't have those any more). And it's true, audiences do burst into spontanteous laughter when Pierce sings. I thought Voulez Vous, Does Your Mother Know?, and Waterloo (hehe) were the best numbers. As my bf pointed out though, she realizes that she doens't know who her father is, so she decides not to get married? What? It was also pretty to look at, and it's so happy that you feel bad for criticizing it. And it made me fall in love with Colin Firth again. Just one question: why do gay men in movies always HUG? The last time I saw a gay man hug his partner in greeting was...


In my movie, Harry ends up with Sky anyway.

tmp00 said...

I think Emma must have been directed that way- not of course this is from (very) distant memory, but I remember Lady Marchmain as being as fatally glamorous as her children and not nearly so starchy. Whishaw's performance balanced on the edge of being annoying, but that is Sebastian after all- and boy was he gut-wrenching at the end. I thought Matthew was just adequate; I couldn't decide if we were supposed to find him a total cypher or he just couldn't act.

Meryl was fidgety because she was out to prove something I think. That and the fact that if they all didn't play it as if they'd just had a bump or six we'd notice how flat the whole thing is. Frankly, I hope it's the directors swan song as well as her debut.

Gay hugs. Yuck. God forbid Colin Firth should mack on a young Greek, right?

Billy D said...

The thing about Mamma Mia! is that in terms of direction, I don't think it was that bad. People are saying that the musical numbers are awkward, but I actually think they are a lot less awkward than many other modern movie musicals (Hairspray, Rent, etc.). The transitions from song to "book" are well done, and there is not much distracting editing (except for that weird slow motion in the beginning). Plus, wide shots! I don't know why directors today don't understand that musicals are meant to be shot with lots of people in frame, not solely with closeups of the stars. It was bright and sunny and filled with beautiful women and hunky men. What else could you ask for, really?

I do think though that the direction to the actors was off. People are loving Julie Walters, but she was so over the top for me as the fool. Christine Baranski was reliably fantastic, and even slightly underused.

Numbers I wish they'd cut: The Winner Takes All, Money, Money, Money, SOS (even though it's one of my favorite Abba songs), and even Take a Chance on Me.

And really, would one kiss, a quick peck, have hurt? Know your audience people! Stuff like that makes me wonder if it was Firth who was skittish or the director/studio.

tmp00 said...

you're right- I just didn't think she reined in the actors quite enough. I didn't care for Julie Walters, only because it seems that the movie is so frightened by the idea of a woman that age having a sexuality they they feel the need to play it for yuks.

You would think in 2008 they could have one little peck, but nooooooo.

One nice thing- I was watching with a bunch of teens (not by choice) who lapped it up like cream and even stayed for the two numbers over the end credits.

Patty said...

Okay, this is helpful! I think I'll just rent the other version.I've had the book forever, but never can seem to manage to get past about page 50. I don't know why, it's the sort of thing I love to read.

Will work on it again this weekend!

tmp00 said...

The movie takes great liberties with the book, including one that totally changes one of the characters- in the book (and the Miniseries) Julia marries Rex against her Mothers wishes since he's not a Catholic and has been divorced. In the movie Rex becomes a Catholic and this prevents Julia in the end from leaving him for Charles, rather than her own belief that she must give up Charles as penance for her past sins in the eyes of God. I guess they thought that modern people wouldn't believe that.

kathleen said...

Try this:

They have the 25th Anniversary Edition of Brideshead Revistited. It is on backorder til 8/14.

tmp00 said...