Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

20 December 2006

Two Movies I Disliked (Sorry, Darren)

The new Christopher Guest (A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show) movie, entitled For Your Consideration is a satire of the whole Oscar-buzz awards-show-machine idea, and it is, unfortunately, rather boring. The laughs are few and far between and the send-ups and subtle are so steeped in Hollywood culture that they fall totally flat (at least here in Tallahassee). I went to the movie with a non-Californian and he was totally lost. I wasn't lost at all, but the movie is so badly edited, so poorly scripted, and so totally unfocused that I got very frustrated after the first twenty or thirty minutes. The film has no central plot device like the other three films, with a clear end in sight. Instead, it flounders, without purpose, making fun of... wait a minute! Who exactly is For Your Consideration making fun of? It seems to me that who they're making fun of are actors. But not stars, not ego-driven Hollywood movie assholes, but rather working stiffs, people who scrape together money to pay rent and wind up doing shitty weiner commercials to make ends meet, people who have been around for twenty-thirty-forty years trying to make a go of it in Hollywood and never achieving any kind of fame. That's who Guest & co. are lampooning. And to me, well, that doesn't really seem fair. I mean, those people don't really deserve to be mocked.

And the Wachowski Brothers' latest script V for Vendetta has been directed by James McTeigue and is beautifully shot, edited and decorated--the score, too, is beautiful. It also boasts a bevy of talented British actors--Stephen Rea, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Rupert Graves, Sinéad Cusack--and a wonderful performance by Natalie Portman. But the script is awful. It's like something out of Ayn Rand. And I mean stylistically not politically. V for Vendetta is about as subtle as a mack truck, with screechingly one-dimensional characters. And some of the plot points left me furious at the script. Terrorism as a form of rebellion is lionized--fine. But the makers of V and V himself (the lead character I mean) propose fear as a tool to be used against their own people in the same way that fear has been used as a tactic by the oppressive, totalitarian regime they wish to overthrow. It's a totally confused sort of logic that makes sense in the minds of the Wachowskis (and, I presume, McTeigue) but didn't make sense in mine. The fight sequences, too, have all been choreographed into precise, mathematical, mind-numbing boredom. There isn't an interesting action sequence among them, leaving only the political chatter of which the movie consists. Talk is interesting, but in a movie purporting to be about action, talk is beside the point. And when the talk is logically unsound, as it is in V, it comes across only as absurd.