Friday, February 15, 2008

"Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes..."

Here's when it works: I Am Sam. Here's when it works even better: I'm Not There. Here's when it doesn't really work: Mamma Mia. As for Across the Universe? Gosh, I just don't know.

This really saddens me, and here's why. When the movie came out I really wanted to see it. My thought process was something like this: "Oooh, gorgeous trippy movie with all the best Beatles songs. oh, no 'Norwegian Wood'? OK almost all the best Beatles songs and lots of swirling hippie things and all you need is love and creative art and filmmaking and Beatles OK I'm in!" Then every review I read was mixed. Every review. Mixed. I thought -- no one loves this movie? But no one hates it either? Whatever is the deal? I mean, I have some friends who are like these spectacular Beatles fans to the depths of their souls. And their reviews were -- mixed. I was determined to love it or hate it, but to feel something extreme.

And instead, I, too am compelled to give it a mixed. A truly-I-don't-know. I mean, sure, it's OK to watch. But so much of it is laughable. ("Dear Prudence" anyone?) And yet at the same time much of it is thoughtful. Some of them can SING. Evan Rachel Wood has a gorgeous voice. (You have to kind of wonder about her and Marilyn Manson maybe singing a duet together or something. At least, I have to wonder about that. A lot.) Some of it is trippy fun. Bono tears it up with "I Am the Walrus." And I am the last one (seriously, the last) to criticize anything extolling the virtues of hippies, the 60s, and all that. I do say that I want a revolution. Of peace. But....

Yeah. But. This film is like one big "But..." None of it makes any sense. I know, I know. The war didn't make any sense, the tragic interrupting of lives with death doesn't make any sense, acid trips make little to no sense, I get it. Love is unexplainable (although I would argue that it does make sense). But what I kept thinking as I watched this, and as I enjoyed some of the songs very much, was that while she had creatively interpreted the Beatles oeuvre, she had not in fact made a good film.

I mean, this would have made a kick-ass multimedia installation somewhere in the Chelsea art scene. But does that make it a film? No, it does not. The first third of the movie, especially, I found myself thinking and even uttering to Brian, "This is really stupid." I suppose the experience of watching it is just that much better when you're shall we say chemically enhanced. I hereby offer no comment on what action I took in this regard about halfway through. After all, this is a family blog. Still, in the end, it was just - weird. But not I'm Not There weird. More like Mamma Mia weird.

And by the way, it gets one Oscar nomination -- for costume design? I would have thought Art Direction, myself, if it were going to be just one.

In keeping with my newly devised ratings system, I would say this one is definitely Thai Food (**). Might be right for some people, and I didn't hate sitting through the meal, but I can't imagine ever craving it. It's certainly nothing that's gonna change my world.

1 comment:

Jennifer H said...

I'm guessing you probably read my review of this. My roommate is obsessed with this movie and gets a bit perturbed everytime I say it was so-so. I completely understand where you are coming from. I too thought the first third was pretty dumb. But then the parts that work, rock. I think you are right about the assessment that it would make a great art installation but doesn't make a great film. It's just too disconnected and not in a cool way.
Anyway, I'm glad you finally saw it. I was curious to know what you'd think.