Saturday, December 01, 2007

Recent Movies

Enchanted (in the movie theater! today! with M and E!)
You just can't think about this one too much. Like, uh, what is the takeaway from choosing reality over fairy tale and getting to live happily ever after? Irony + Disney = confusion. Then there's the whole black/Asian/Latino people as scenery thing (shades of 90210). So don't think, just enjoy. Because aside from some dragginess about 3/4 of the way through, this year's loopy Disney princess option is thoroughly enjoyable, especially the opening animation sequence, the NY animals cleaning the apartment, and the Central-Park-goes-wild-for-romance number. And, man, I would love to see this one on gentle hallucinogens.

Hairspray (also in the movie theater! with M, E, and grandparents!)
As I write this, M is listening to "Hello Baltimore" on YouTube (while playing Stardoll). Grandparents and grandchildren loved this one. I liked it well enough. My favorite character was the white best friend with the racist mother who falls in love with the black boy (E just remembered that she is Penny). Of course I liked the John Waters cameo. My major analytic thought was that Hairspray shows what's wrong with Disney TV movies: they try to whitewash politics with bland diversity, which in turn makes for blandness uber alles. But the "let's just dance together" politics of Hairspray also irked me, though I felt hideously cynical for not just getting into the rhythm.

The Bourne Ultimatum (in the movie theater with S! on a Saturday night!)
In case you don't remember, I haven't done action since Face/Off where I was disgusted with the gratuitousness of the speedboat chase and swore off the genre with no regret. But everyone kept saying The Bourne Ultimatum was great, and I started to wonder if I should give action another try, and then it was playing at the corner, and there we were. And it was great. I was kind of blown away in sort of a Rip Van Winkle way, like when I saw Madagascar after not having seen an animated film since, maybe, Dumbo. How do they film that stuff? Can the CIA really watch us like that? Was such an anti-status-quo film really tops at the box office in George W. Bush's America? I think the reason I could stomach the action--really, I quite loved it, though I had to clench S's hand throughout--was that it was so seamless integral to the plot, which was itself seamlessly non-stop.

Dream Girls (DVD, with M and E)
Eh. I saw the show in previews, way back when--thanks Wikipedia, it was 1981, I was in high school, we were all blown away, and Jennifer Holliday absolutely ruled. The movie? Like I said, eh. Not in a bad way, it was fine, and I especially liked the roman a clef aspects--tracking Diana Ross's image, etc. But the film definitely falls into the trap of adapting a stage musical. That is, a musical is inherently anti-realist, because we don't go around breaking into song. Enchanted and Hairspray go with it by taking realism and imposing musical upon it, knowing full well that musical trumps realism, but winking at us and enjoying their merry business. Dream Girls tries to have it realist, with song, and no winks, and ends up with a stylized, I need a noun here, and I don't have it...I think because I am merging two points: one about music, the other about narrative, neither of which quite work in Dream Girls, and I think the failure is related, but I can't quite say why.

Fifty First Dates (DVD, with M and E)
My continued efforts to engage M with film via romantic comedies continue to fail. I think I need to give up on her and focus on E, who loved this one, despite the need for constant interpretive narration. Both girls found Adam Sandler's physical comedy hilarious, and I think M liked it more than she thought she did, because she kept talking about it the next day, but she didn't enjoy it much at the time. Oh well. I believe I quite liked it the first time; this time I was mildly amused.

I've also rented The Departed and Mystic River (in preparation for Gone Baby Gone) and not watched them. Which must mean something. Especially since when I eventually write my Recent Books post it will have a long section of abandoned books. And unfortunately I can't write about my favorite recent book because it won't be out till April. But I will be able to write about Pamela Des Barres's new book, which I'm currently in the middle of, and, wow, talk about a thoroughly enjoyable ideological mess!

1 comment:

Dawn said...

The theater show of Hairspray is, of course, better and more cynical than the movie of Hairspray and John Travolta is just awful. He ruins it for me. I love the drag queens playing her mom and without one it's just silly. And that's all I have to say about that.

(I keep meaning to blog it and blog how Johnny Depp has the wrong voice for Sweeney Todd but I can't because I'm so sad about it. Although maybe he'll be wonderful and I won't mind that he's not a bass-baritone. Only I doubt it. And it could have been so good. Why not just cast Michael Cerveris who starred in the revival? I know he's got this love affair with Johnny Depp but Johnny Depp can't *sing* properly!!!)