Secret Pop

Mar 27, 2005

"It's the way of the future."

The night of my accident, I was driving home from The Arclight, where I had gone to see The Aviator. I took copious, scribbly notes, but I never really did much with them.

Entering the cinema after drinks in the bar, I was displeased to only catch the tail end of the Sin City trailer. This won't be the first time I announced my looking-forwardness at the risk of one day sounding like a great fool. Especially with these much-anticipated, Comic-Con genre productions, it's so hard to not look a heel when the flickering begins for real. But I don't want to allow myself to be so lacking in courage as to not be willing to say I HOPE something will be good. That seems ridiculously cautious. I don't think anyone is investing on the basis of my movie whims, so I feel mostly safe in saying my fingers are crossed without fear of sending us into a recession.

I scribbled a note about the film being "so Scorsese sensualist." Firstly, I'm not a big Martin Scorsese fan. I actually consider him to be sort of a comic book filmmaker. Only, instead of taking on the superhero and science fiction genres, he prefers to tackle historical epics with the tools of the comic book trade. I remember a film writing teacher of mine pointing out the way, in The Color of Money, Scorsese manages to turn a billiards game into an action sequence, and that has always stuck with me. I suppose there's nothing wrong with this -- the assignment of overly inflated value to mundane moments. Spielberg was known for the manipulative emotional roller coaster he took his viewers on. To categorize these as criticisms implies that the only good film is a documentary. But then, when it comes to a biopic, I guess I just think that more documentarian sensibilities are called for.

The bizarre colorized look of the first half of the film seemed like such an unnecessary device. With sets and costumes and all manner of production design reminding us that this story takes place in the past, I think the unsaturated blues and jaundiced fleshtones are heavyhanded overkill. And they reminded me of the early days of colorization technology, when there was such a furor over Ted Turner's decision to colorize so many of the old black and white classics in his vault. That was back when Cheers was still on the air. Good golly.

I do not think Cate Blanchett deserved an Oscar for that performance. No, sir. I think Martin Short could have done as truthful a caricature, frankly. And perhaps with more feminine facial features. I like Cate Blanchett plenty, but this performance was no reason to throw a parade. I had just been watching Desk Set earlier that day while getting dressed, and I think it's a shame how overparodied Katharine Hepburn's legacy has become. She was a wonderful actress with distinct -- but not ridiculous -- elocution. Cate Blanchett reduced her to mannishness and unreliable diphthong play. It's a shame.

I really can't decipher much else of what I wrote. But my memory persists in certain areas. Like I thought that Leonardo di Caprio gave a remarkable performance. And I was surprised by it. Because the clips I had seen on various awards shows and television spots did not convince me that he deserved the nominations he got. But seeing the role in its entirety was another matter. He really did an outstanding job. I only wish the film had done him justice. Because in the end, you're still left with the exact same agenda as with nearly any other historically-based Scorsese film: now, you've got to go to the library or the Internet and find what happened. For a film that was intended to tell so much about the life of Howard Hughes, it really told surprisingly little. And there were far too many unanswered questions by the time the credits rolled. I would even have settled for a paragraph or two in epilogue, letting me know what happened to all the key characters. Like they did in Can't Hardly Wait.

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