Mar 9, 2007

best. week in film. ever.

A long, long time ago, I went to a private, conservative high school.

In this place, a younger, no less wise huntergrayson wandered about, feeling alone and confused.

Then a mad hatter arrived to take over the theater program. Said mad hatter started offering film classes and, well, my life as I know it now sorta began then.

Keep in mind that this was before the DVD age reached full swing. So the mad hatter would show me mysterious bootleg VHS tapes that were burned from laserdiscs. [Yes, they really existed, look it up.]

Besides introducing me to the works of David Sedaris, that man is responsible for my first viewings of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

And the insane musical I just now discovered came out on DVD - Busby Berkeley's The Gang's All Here. There's a fruit hat, dancing bananas and a number that's a swooning psychedelic tribute to polka dots.

I can NOT WAIT to see this again. I can't...put it into words. It's just something you have to experience yourself.

Also, a brief review:
Running with Scissors - written/directed by Ryan Murphy:

For someone who balances so delicately on the razor's edge of camp every week on Nip/Tuck, it is surprising that he would make a movie so....dull. So inert. Bear in mind that I haven't read the memoir - my viewing companion had and is a HUGE Burroughs fan.

But the movie kinda sucks. It has no momentum, no "oopmh." It's a string of vignettes pieced together as a feature film- pearls through a necklace whose string gets more frayed as it goes along. The emotional modes are only two -- blankly delivered psychobabble talk about "feelings" and such or over-the-top screaming matches. And that's it. It's either one or the other rather than the rich and varied shades of melodrama that Murphy's TV show consistently delivers.

A more fitting title would've been, "Powerwalking, then Sprinting, with Scissors."

While the acting is decent enough across the board [look for Gabrielle Union to prove her dramatic chops in a "blink and you'll miss it" role] only two actors manage to seem like real people rather than cardboard characters. The first is Alec Baldwin, who earned Salon's Honorary Oscar in part for his turn here.

The other? Gwyneth Paltrow. Yes, her. I tend to stay away from her gossip threads because while she's probably an insufferable person, she has never ceased to remain a compelling screen presence in my eyes. Given how the entire film is barely distinguishable from a sad Tenenbaum retread, Fishstick must be commended for not doing Margot, part deux.

Evan Rachel Wood's faux-punk "fuck you" posturing sometimes makes her seem like early Avril Lavigne. Joseph Fiennes? Yet another screen role where "crazy" is little more than a collection of tics and business. Cross doesn't get much to do as Augusten, despite being the author of the memoir. Bening, is, of course, fantastic and startling. But none of them hold a candle to what the talented Miss Paltrow does here --

She makes you believe her. Oh, she's a nut. A spoiled brat and a space cadet rolled into one. But she is so deeply wrapped up in herself -- so uniquely on her own wavelength - that you can't take your eyes off her. You begin to believe her madness and start counting the seconds until she appears again.

At one point in the film, she claims that her cat is speaking to her and is begging her to keep her in a laundry basket-shaped prison.

And while the rational part of you says "Oh, that's terrible! Free kitty!" The other part of your brain starts to think, "well, maybe the cat *did* speak to her via its purrs."

Kudos, Fishstick. Kudos.

1 comment:

Sticky Keys said...

Thank you for your review of RWS. I was really excited to see it and thought the actors did a fine job, but I don't think the directors ever knew exactly what kind of movie they wanted.

Wry comedy, dramatic bio, pop? They couldn't decide so they had these nuances that built up to nothing, and these angles that showed nothing. It was astounding that Gwyneth was pretty much the best thing about it.

It's not even that it was boring, but it just had so much potential that wasn't so much squandered as much as not tapped into.

Effing Marie Antoinette was more engaging and that was a Sofia Copolla film. Which means boring as snot but you can't stop watching.