About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

cultural capital

I ended up going on a bit about Animal Kingdom, let's so some quick takes.

Sunday August 22 I saw Eat Pray Love at Clearview's Ziegfeld and then The Other Guys at the AMC Lincoln Square, Aud #4/Olympia. Other Guys had higher highs and lower lows and Eat Pray Love was more consistently mediocre, so I'd give a slight nod to seeing The Other Guys. The best parts of Other Guys are in the first half hour and are often genuinely good and genuinely funny. There's good chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. But as many of the reviews I read quite accurately point out, in the last half hour the movie becomes too much that which it is supposed to be spoofing, and I tuned out totally and completely. It was good to see Michael Keaton with a decent role in a mainstream movie. Where did he go? Eat Pray Love isn't without its pleasures. Julia Roberts, exotic settings, lush feel, eye candy in some ways. But it's flat. The script is kind of flat. I don't know what depths are to be found in the book the movie is based on, but this script doesn't show any. But as or more important the quality of the casting seemed to end with getting Julia Roberts. For all its flaws at least in Duplicity you had good chemistry between Roberts and Clive Owen, who has some of the same "it" that Roberts does. Billy Crudup isn't bad in this movie, but he doesn't have that it. James Franco, same thing; if Franco had that "it" he'd be much bigger a star than he's become, because he's had his chances. The role Richard Jenkins has is annoyingly scripted, and I'm not sure any actor could have made it work. With Javier Bardem, it might just be that I'm not a fan. In order for the movie to have worked as well as it could have, they needed to aim higher and get higher for the men in Julia Roberts' life.

Last week Peter V. Brett and I saw Scott Pilgrim at the AMC Empire, Aud. #20. Better than either of the two movies above, but not as successful as I would have liked. To the good, the filmmaking by director Edgar Wright, who's previously done Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, is lively and energetic. Comic book sound titles go sweeping along the screen kind of like the subtitles in Slumdog Millionaire. Michael Cera fits the lead role like a glove, most of his entourage are well cast and likable. There are some good choices for the smaller roles of the seven evil exes. On the opposite side, it's creative and energetic in a way that can wear out its welcome after a bit, and here I think that point is reached rather before the end of the movie. At its essence, the movie is a romantic action comedy. The whole premise is that Scott is fighting for the love of a girl. And the director, the script, the filmmaking ... a lot of that "little" stuff shows no interest in the romantic side of the romantic action comedy. The movie's so busy at the start introducing all of us to its bag of tricks that the arrival of the romantic lead kind of gets lost in the shuffle. Where did she come from? Why? Why does the Michael Cera character go with one girl over another? This film had an even more disappointing opening at the box office than Kick Ass, which has found some justified redemption with excellent early sales for the video. Will the same happen here? I had some issues with the unnecessary violence in Kick Ass, but overall I do think it was the more successful of the two movies.

Salt, which I saw at the Regal Gallery Place Aud #10 in DC on July 31, was a thoroughgoing delight, very similar in my mind to the Angelina Jolie movie Wanted. It's totally and preposterously silly, and it knows it is. The actors toe a fine line nicely, most of them knowing that they're in on the joke but taking themselves just seriously enough for the preposterousness of the film to be solidly grounded in some semblance of Hollywood reality. Angelina Jolie is a delight. I had a lot of fun with the movie. I'm not going to defend it as art, and Myke Cole did not like it, couldn't look past the silliness of it all enough to find the enjoyment in it. But me, I loved the over the top pleasures this movie had to offer, and I'd recommend it.

Not so for Dinner With Schmucks, which I saw the next day at the same location, Aud. #13. Schmucks. Yuck. I don't even want to talk about this movie very much. It's not well-scripted, or well-made, and it just kind of lies there. It's not totally without laughs, but nowhere near enough of them.

And while in DC, I also saw two plays.

One Man Lord of the Rings is by the same guy who did One Man Star Wars. If you think you'll like it from the name, you probably will. Check here, maybe one of the shows is coming soon to a theatre near you. It was my first time seeing something at DC's Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. And then the Studio Theatre had Passing Strange. My classic DC theatre visit, that show had played on Broadway, gotten nice notices, wished I'd seen it, so this was my last chance I really must go and partake sort of thing. This is an autobiographical show of the artist's road to musical theatre. The Studio production was lively and energetic, I had a wonderful time, I'd recommend anyone go. It's also kind of entirely forgettable, almost while you're watching it. But while you're there, you're having fun, and that's not a bad way to go.

1 comment:

Peat said...

The more I think about Scott Pilgrim, the more I think the movie was utter genius. I think our feelings about the film diverge in your comment here:

"The whole premise is that Scott is fighting for the love of a girl."

That does seem to be the premise on the surface, but I think it goes deeper than that.

Whenever one begins a new relationship, there comes a point when we are faced with the baggage of our new lover, which usually comes in the form of their exes. We want to know about them, but at the same time we don't. We don't want to compete with them, but at the same time we know we have to.

I think the story of Scott having to fight the evil exes of his new love, while at the same time dealing with his own baggage is a wonderful metaphor for that phase of a new relationship.

So yes, in some ways it is a romantic comedy about fighting for a girl, but in others, it is an abstract painting about what it's like to start a new relationship and face the specter of the past. From that perspective, some of the details you mention being lacking become largely irrelevant.

I want to see it again.