Sunday, December 28, 2008

Seven Pounds of Doubt on Ben Button's Revolutionary Road

I got a cold Christmas Day. And I was lucky enough to get my mitts on dvds for some just released movies.

Seven Pounds (HUGE SPOILER ALERT HERE!): I actually saw this in the theatre last week with a buddy from film school. I've always been one of those annoying people that can spot holes in a plot a mile off. I'm known to lean over to my movie going partner and whisper, "The butler did it."

I was looking forward to this because there was supposedly some big surprise that would keep me riveted to my seat. There was no surprise; it was not riveting. Maybe if they hadn't told us in the first two minutes that Will Smith's character would commit suicide before the end of the movie, I could have gotten into it. But they did and I didn't.

Within twenty minutes, I was squirming in my seat and had to ask my friend, "You know where this is going?" "Yep." "Bored?" "Yep."

Once there was no mystery, there was nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the acting. Will Smith is tortured in his roll of a man who killed seven people texting while driving...including his beloved wife. Is it his best roll? Not by a mile.

Rosario Dawson was heartbreaking as a heart patient and this the only performance of Woody Harrelson's that I've ever enjoyed.

Smith's character proceeds through the movie checking out the seven people he will leave his organs to - making sure they are "good people." And midway through, you easily figure out how he's going to off himself. But the other huge plot hole for me is - I think they reject organs from a poisoned patient...

Wait for video on this one but, if you are jonesing for a good Will Smith flick, see Six Degrees of Separation. I first saw this movie because I loved the play and adore Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland. I thought Smith was surely miscast in his first film role. He stole the show and I came away a die hard fan.

If you would rather see a movie with a less transparent plot and you are one of the seven people on the planet who hasn't seen it, rent The Sixth Sense.

Doubt
is the star of all the movies I've seen. The actors are spot on, the scenery is perfect as are the costumes. There is nothing bad to say here. I probably wouldn't have seen this in the theatre - the subject matter of a priest sexually abusing a child is disturbing to me. And yet it is wonderful and definitely worth seeing on the big screen. I usually hate stories with vague endings that let the viewer make up their own mind but this film is just beautiful.

Meryl Streep is simply on fire and certainly deserves another Oscar for this one.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was annoyingly long at almost three hours! Thank goodness I watched in stages from the comfort of my sofa! I can't imagine being in an uncomfortable theatre for that long!

The story is about a baby born an old man who ages backwards, getting younger as time marches on. While Cate Blanchett always brings wonder and depth and honesty to any performance, Brad Pitt's performance was flat. I tried to chalk it up to being born with wisdom - no need to calm down as you age. But there was never any passion or fire in him even when he won his long lost love nor when he had to leave her.

New Orleans serves as a backdrop and it was lovely to see the Old Gal in her glory. But the whole movie feels like some kind of would-be Forrest Gump. I can actually envision the studio pitch session with the lame ass studio executive listening intently: "Yeah man, it's the new Gump, only instead of Alabama, he's from New Orleans. Instead of running across the country and meeting presidents, he'll be a sailor traveling the world meeting interesting people. Instead of being an army hero, his tug boat will get commissioned into the war... Instead of 'life is like a box of chocolates' we've got......" OK, here is where I get lost! The catch phrase we're supposed to take away is COMPLETELY FORGETTABLE! It's along the lines of "You never know what's comin'" I didn't think the end of this movie was comin'.

Button is a CGI (computer generated imagery) wonder and will certainly win awards for that but it is long and tedious and despite the promised tear jerker, I only teared up a bit when he was speaking about what he wanted for his daughter. My advice: wait for video.

Revolutionary Road celebrates the first pairing of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio since Titanic. They do have a chemistry about them. Winslet's character mourns her once hoped for life as an actress, dreams cast aside when she got pregnant. DiCaprio's character is a guy just doing the right thing, working at a job he hates to take care of the family.

The movie rarely shows them in happy times so we have no idea what really binds them together. We just see the ugly, nasty fights which are really sad and mean. And the make-ups are even stranger. After a horrible fight, he will return home or wake up and she's in the kitchen and dressed and cooking and forcing happiness. "Hello dear, how would you like your eggs?"

It's an astounding juxtaposition and made me wonder if she was bi-polar or just one of those many 1950's housewives who "needed" barbiturates.

The couple comes up with a plan to recapture some of the glory of their youth, before the kids and the house in the burbs. Then an unexpected pregnancy derails it. I found myself wondering about how many people must have their lives, hopes and dreams dashed in this way.

The movie is a sad commentary on marriage but all of the performances were wonderful. The most annoying part, aside from the downer of a plot, was Winslet's wardrobe. While the other women were dressed in the 1950's, Winslet's character didn't seem to know from whence decade she came. It made me wonder if the wardrobe department or director Sam Mendes (Winslet's real life hubby) gave the actress a little too much say in the costumes.

If you can handle a depressing plot during the most depressing time of the year, this movie is worth a trip to the mega-plex for the acting alone. Kathy Bates is also terrific in her role as a neighbor and realtor.

3 comments:

ordinaryjanet said...

Love the post title!!

Sounds like they're all depressing in their own ways. Why don't they release good comedies (or is that an oxymoron these days?) during the holidays? we could all use a happy ending, especially in these times. During the Depression, they gave us Shirley Temple to get our minds off our problems. Does Hollywood want us all to off ourselves?

Duly Inspired said...

Thanks for the reviews! I hope you're feeling better by now. And I wish you and your pup all the best in 2009!! :-)

Duly Inspired said...

Thanks for the reviews! I hope you're feeling better by now. And I wish you and your pup all the best in 2009!! :-)