Thursday, March 15, 2007
The Ides! Beware the Ides!
Ok, the photo is embarrasingly blurry but I'm rather fond of it nonetheless. Besides, it's rather reflective of my mod at the moment. I have a phone meeting scheduled this afternoon to discuss a story I really want to do, suspect I won't be able to do, and am frankly terrified I might end up getting. I will not explain anything beyond that as I believe this isn't going to go anywhere, but at the moment it is dominating my mind. If I get it, I'll update, if not I'll probably just delete this.
As a distraction for me and for you, more on the movies. We went to see The Painted Veil last night. I vaguely recall it was not terribly well reviewed, but I can't quite recall why. Sadly, I cannot say anything entertainly negative about it - I found the story to be compelling, Naomi Watts was incredible and Edward Norton was decent.* The scenery - inland China - was astounding though everything was a little too pretty and honey-drenched for a story that was occuring in the middle of a cholera epidemic. Overall, worth a rental, but I'm not sure I'll remember it in a month.
One thing Amynah and I have noticed that makes the cinema-going experience unique here (beyond the subtitles and lack of nacho chips), is the trailers for French movies. All of them, for reasons Amynah and I cannot fathom, appear to work as a precis of rather than an advertisement for a movie: in other words, they're trying to tell you what the movie is about rather than just throwing the best lines and fanciest special effects at you. Therefore they'll take you through the whole thing, plot point by plot point.
Based on our sampling of the dozen or so trailers we've seen so far, it would appear that all French movies are about attractive people meeting each other, having complicated affairs, then a crisis. At least one of the characters will be very old and several fetchingly young. Frequently the old person wil be Gerard Depradieu. There are always at least five people, all of whom are in love with each other in various permutations. Their feelings will be expressed in witty, yet philosophically grounded conversations about the nature of love and destiny. These conversations must, and I mean must take place in a sun dappled field with some sort of symbolic vegetation, like a decidiuous tree that will lose its leaves or flowers that may be plucked. But botanical degradation is for later, because for now all is sweetness and light, as portrayed by lively conversations over dinners on balconies and laughter over wine.
At this point in the trailer, the serious music starts. There is much rapid talk, which fails to fill the silences that fill the gaps between the characters. There will be much ennui. The old character, whoever they are, will endure many close-ups of the cavernous wrinkles. Some or all characters will run places (it's never clear where), sometimes mancially, oft-times despondently. The field will be returned to, the tree bare, the flowers crushed. Audrey Tatou or someone who looks remarkably like her will appear, stare out a window on which raindrops are falling, cast her eyes fetchingly downward and turn away.
Amynah will testify to this: every trailer for a French movie we have seen looks like this, even the ones set in Paris where one wouldn't expect to find fields so conveniently isolated and sylvan to serve as appropriate backdops for the love and disillusionment of so many French peple. Some of them are comedies, some of them dramas but NOT ONE lacks these essential elements.
Someone has to introduce these guys to the exploding car.
* Given that of the last three films I've seen Norton in the only one where he even merited "decent" was this one, I'm seriously re-evaluating his place on my very short list of actors I like. It's been a long time since "Fight Club" or "American History X." Hell, even "Death to Smoochy."