Sunday, November 14, 2004

A Break from Reality - Some Recent Movie-going

Between lots of travel and the election, I didn't really go to the movies very much this fall. I think the last movie I saw in a theater between summer and November 6 was Garden State, which I liked quite a lot. I've more than made up for that over the last week, having seen The Incredibles, I <Heart> Huckabees, Alfie, and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. And, over the next week (or whever they reach Pittsburgh), I plan to see Kinsey, Finding Neverland and Sideways. I might even drive across town to see Vera Drake as I'm a longtime fan of Imelda Staunton and Mike Leigh.

I have to admit that while all of the movies I've been to were watchable and diverting (probably necessary given life's recent stresses!), none were as good as they could have been, which was frustrating. All of the movies more style over substance, but they also lacked something in style.

The Incredibles was great to look at and had well-cast voices. I loved hearing Holly Hunter as an animated character-that was long overdue. But it wasn't nearly as sharp as, say Shrek, and devolved into a few too many chase sequences.

I <Heart> Huckabees sounded like a wonderful idea (I love weird movies), but it didn't hold up to the high standards of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you like Jude Law and Naomi Watts, it's worth seeing because both turn in excellent performances. But the lead, Jason Schwartzman, didn't give any evidence of actually acting in this movie - he just sort of schlepped on through. And both the script and the direction go in some curious directions.

Alfie, Alfie, Alfie...Jude Law was a great Alfie. But the movie just didn't work. The melancholy level felt much higher in the remake than in the original. The women were mostly cyphers.

The Bridget Jones sequel had reviews that were all over the place, edging more on the negative side. I liked it, though it wasn't quite as sharp as the first movie (which I'd liked quite a lot). The director general had an interesting visual sense (the skydiving sequence looked glorious, as did most of the Thai photography), but then lost her way (the skiing sequence) at times.

I was at the first-ever Pittsburgh Creative Nonfiction Literary Conference this weekend. I was reminded of how much I enjoy this particular genre and how much I enjoy talking with its proponents. I even got a book on working your way out of writer's block, which I plan to start reading soon.

No comments: