Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Devil Wears Blundstones

A review of The Proposition

Never watch a movie written by a musician.  Australian goth-rocker Nick Cave wrote this movie and it quite clearly reflects his sensibilities of hot, rural, sleazy violence.  I actually kind of like Cave’s music (which doesn’t show up much in the film, except for a moronic ditty about the sun and the moon that Guy Pierce hums on occasion), but his screenwriting so far is not winning me over.  This movie is about Australian bushrangers in the 19th century, and continues that subject’s unblemished streak of sentimental, unsuccessful productions (Ned Kelly, both book and movie anyone?  I’ll admit here in cold cyber-print that I have a particular loathing for both).  It stars Guy Pierce, who basically just grimaces his way through the role of hardened killer Charlie Burns, and Ray Winstone from Sexy Beast, who turns in a wonderfully understated performance as a rural police chief (if you don’t count the first scene, in which he keeps repeating “I will civilize this land!” and acts entirely unlike he does for the rest of the movie).  The titular proposition is the deal that Winstone and Pierce strike: Guy Pierce has to kill his brother, Danny Huston, to save the life of his other brother, who looks like Pippin from Lord of the Rings and whose name is not important.  The New York Times complained that Danny Huston was miscast as a sociopathic bandit with a penchant for elaborately orchestrated rapes, but I thought he did OK. The landscape and characters reel by in a relentless, lurid parade of ugliness and grit, but the plot is at once thin and contrived and the dialogue is wooden in the manner of pop lyrics, unsurprisingly.  Sentimental and too gross, but not an entirely bad film.

A review of The Devil Wears Prada

If this film could have decided if it felt that the fashion industry is an elaborate farce or a vital organ in the body of society it would have been better.  In fact, it should have been a sweetly dumb comedy about the idiotic affectations of New York’s high fashion crowd, but instead it turns into a disingenuous and boring meditation on whether Anne Hathaway should stay true to herself and her two-dimensional boyfriend Adrian Grenier.  Early in the film Meryl Streep (as Miranda Priestly, Lauren Weisberger’s caricature of Anna Wintour) gives a long speech about how Anne Hathaway’s cerulean sweater was actually the product of a complicated series of decisions spanning years and miles but ultimately finding their sole author and parent in none other than Streep herself.  This silly speech is supposed to raise the question of hey uh maybe like fashion is actually important?  But luckily it isn’t.  The movie is at least an hour two long and has too much Hathaway and not enough plot.   I haven’t read the novel but my expectations, should I ever choose to do so, remain very low.  Capable but entirely unimportant.

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