A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What I'm Watching

Changeling

"True stories" are such a trap for a filmmaker, especially the "incredible but true" variety of stories like the one J. Michael Straczynski's screenplay tries to tell. Eventually any effort at a documentary-style film is going to get lost if you cast a superstar like Angelina Jolie, or even familiar faces like John Malkovich and Jeffrey Donovan. You stop believing in the characters and start evaluating their performances. Jolie is a good actress, but the makeup artist did her no service by making her plumped-up lips more emphatic with bright red lipstick -- she comes perilously close to being a caricature of herself. (If they ever, god forbid, remake Mommie Dearest, it's her turn to play Joan Crawford.) On the whole, Clint Eastwood's characteristic low-key touch works well with material like this, though I could have used a little less of his score, which only emphasizes the sentimental elements of the screenplay. And I wish he had reined in Jason Butler Harner, whose execution scene goes way over the top.

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