A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

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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