Someday they’ll make a movie about the making of Titanic; an epic story of love and disaster, with an ice-berg called James Cameron and two plucky leads named Kate and Leo. Audiences will gasp at the scale of hubris involved in making a two hundred million dollar movie – and thrill to watch Kate and Leo battle ice-berg Cameron… braving PCP in the clam chowder, sub-zero waters and the shoot to end all careers! The movie will have a happy ending; Kate and Leo survive. But what will future audiences make of us – their forebears – will they grasp why we loved this movie so?
For a movie that features fright-wigs, war elephants, monkeys and man-love, Alexander is surprisingly dull. Everything that could go wrong with it has gone wrong, and yet – it only fitfully reaches maximum hysteria. It may be something to do with Colin Farrell still sort-of believing he was in a credible star vehicle, or maybe because Oliver Stone can’t quite bring himself to launch Alexander into the stratosphere of camp. And it’s a shame, because Alexander could be a really good bad movie. Every scene is poised for kitsch. Is it schadenfreude to wish disaster on a movie? Or would relishing disaster have made Alexander great?
Why doesn’t Woody Allen do something crazy – like make King Lear? (“How – uh – y’know – how sharper than a serpent’s tooth to have a – uh – a thankless child”) What’s the point in playing it safe at 75? And – to get to my point (lopsidedly) – why bother making Vicky Cristina Barcelona? Woody Allen has made two classics in his career (Annie Hall, Manhattan), and about six movies that are almost-classic (Zelig, Hannah and Her Sisters… Radio Days?), but his recent output is pedestrian – ignorable. So why not play Lear? Afterall, he was in that cockamamie Jean-Luc Godard Lear twenty years ago.
When did the passive protagonist become desirable? I mean, Beowulf didn’t know interesting people; he was Beowulf!, that’s why they named the story after him. A hero’s job is to act. It’s the mass of humanity that lead lives of quiet desperation. That’s why we don’t (or didn’t use to) sing their praises. Be somebody – then be a protagonist. The problem with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is that – aside from aging backwards – its hero is as memorable as an envelope. He waits his whole life for a girl and then he turns into a baby. If he were a Viking they’d have fed him to something interesting. Illness does not make him charismatic.
This movie says one thing indelibly: a play is a play is a play. Why Hollywood keeps mistaking theatre for cinema is beyond me. Maybe all the accolades get in the way. But no matter how great a play, it must be destroyed if it’s to make a great movie. That’s why Baz Luhrmann was right to wreck Romeo + Juliet. If you worship words, you shouldn’t be making movies. Movies are pictures, not text. The trouble for writer/director John Patrick Shanley is that he’s made Doubt into a monument to his own (award-winning) stage play. As a movie: it would make a great play.
This is the kind of movie that leaves you wanting more… fists. I wanted to punch Jonathan Demme after seeing it. If I had twelve hands, I would hit him with each of them. Everything about Rachel Getting Married is grit-in-the-eye irritating. From the home-video aesthetics to the Hindu-themed wedding (for non-Hindus), the movie is a How To-guide for making audiences wince. The lead character (and I choose my words carefully here) is the single most irritating woman in the history of cinema. I want to declare war on Rachel Getting Married. Like slavery, polio or pterodactyls; it’s better off eradicated.