January 30, 2012

Please! Just Stay in Front of the Camera!

I wouldn't mind looking like George Clooney. But I'd mind directing like him.

Take The Ides of March. Well, actually, don't take it, because I wouldn't.

I'm not sure why so many actors insist on helming movies. It's like they want to reinvent themselves, when their own, well-honed personas are good enough. Clint Eastwood's another I'd mention. Laurence Olivier, too.

At least "Larry" had a vision for his interpretations of the Bard. In reviewing Eastwood's work, I'm not sure his is so defined.

I know all professionals want to do what interests them, and many don't want to be pigeonholed into certain roles. But we know Eastwood's capable of turning in a good performance. Same with Clooney.

Is being recognized as a good actor not enough? Or does one have to be an auteur to be respectable?

I think you can be respected for what you do well and, to paraphrase Robert Frost, that can make all the difference.

January 28, 2012

The Sacred Space of the Originals

I often think I like a movie better if it follows its source material faithfully.

But I might be looking through silver-colored glasses. In revisiting The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King last night on TV, I noticed that I still enjoy this film immensely, despite the tweaks to much of the dialogue found in J.R.R. Tolkien's book. There's at least one precedent: I also love David Lean's brilliant Great Expectations, though the movie's end, in which Pip tears away the curtains hiding Estella from the world, is nothing like the novel's finale.

So why am I fine with the changes in these adaptations...yet horrified by the ones in Garth Jennings' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

I know--I'm comparing two masterpieces to a misfire. It's not fair. But I'm trying to find a pattern, and the only one I can see is a significant difference in quality, resulting from better direction, scripts, editing, and other elements.

Could that be it, then? Could I like something that, theoretically, could be completely different from its source material if it's just done well?

I'm not going to discount that. I'll have to mull it for a while. Maybe I'm not the purist I think I am. Or maybe I'm a purist just with movies.

I know that if it's good, I'll like it. Maybe I'll just go by that.

January 26, 2012

Yes, Let's By All Means Admit Impediments

Are we sure no one else but Meryl Streep would've fit the bill as Margaret Thatcher?

I'm a little befuddled by these casting choices--though I recognize the need for star power.

But Meryl Streep? What's next, Dustin Hoffman as Charles de Gaulle?

It might be another Oscar this year for Streep, considered by many to be one of America's greatest actresses...though I often find her performances forced and mannered. I'm wondering, though, whether this kind of portrayal also takes the spotlight away from less well-known, though more deserving actresses, such as Rooney Mara and Viola Davis. Streep seems to be specializing these days in historical impersonations, which sometimes appear to be judged on how close they are to the real thing rather than how much they work within the context of the films.

I'd like to see someone else get recognized for a less showy role. Maybe this year's Academy Awards will accommodate. I'll be cautiously optimistic.

January 23, 2012

Go Gently into that Good Night, Will You Please?

It's high time a number of film franchises were retired.

Transformers, head to the hills. Chipmunks, get outta Dodge.

And Final Destination, let this be your last slaughterfield.

This void should not be filled, because, as Woody Allen remarks in Love and Death, it's an "empty void."

What needs to arise is a spate of quality sci-fi and fantasy pictures.

Sorry, Conan, you don't fit the bill--not until your script's as strong as your biceps. But I'd like to see some escapism in a similar vein, from great source material.

A smattering of Isaac Asimov. A dose of Ray Bradbury. Slices of Theodore Sturgeon.

There's a surplus of content out there. Why aren't we seeing more of it...and I'm not talking about travesties such as I, Robot? Faithful adaptations that trust the viewer. Where are they?

We can update these stories so they're even more relevant, without losing their "heart." And we've got all the CGI we need to lure eyeballs.

Let's lure the brains, too. We're primates, not chipmunks.

January 20, 2012

Bridging the Cinematic Divide

I'm at a loss. Trudi and I like different movies.

OK, we're of one mind on some films--mostly those directed by Billy Wilder. And we're in agreement on the Marx Brothers, though she doesn't care for The Cocoanuts. (Consternation! Uproar!)

But almost anything else released after 1929...pffft.

I admire Trudi's taste. It's impeccable. But I wonder why I was so enthralled with The Damned and she wasn't. Or why I can't convince her that Throne of Blood is one of the best interpretations of Shakespeare on the silver screen. Or why, for that matter, any flick featuring a battle scene lasting more than 10 minutes isn't something to avoid.

Or why I struggle through the Jennifer Aniston oeuvre and she embraces it.

I've decided this can't be chalked up to purportedly innate differences in taste between the sexes. I like some "chick flicks." Really. For example: Stolen Kisses.

I provide crummy examples.

Fine, so I prefer a great epic. A drawn-out drama. That's not for all viewers, though Trudi at one point admitted to me that it's hard for her to watch the Lord of the Rings movies, as she needs to absorb each in its entirety rather than piecemeal, as I tend to watch things on TV.

So my feeling is, she probably has an inner jidai-geki.

Perhaps we're destined never to cross this divide. I've tried, though--I've watched Mad Men. I've sat through Ryan Reynolds comedies. And to her credit, Trudi has tried, too. She sat through most of Kwaidan. I give her many props for that.

I just think now that taste...I can't believe I'm writing this...may be subjective.

What an admission.