Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Review: How Lovely Are Peter Jackson's Latest bones?

Please be forewarned: To say that this film was made badly, or that Peter Jackson did a bad job or entirely is a poor/nearsighted director would be a most foolhardy mistake to make.

I'm gonna make this short and sweet (I'm already lying). Because as much as a person would think Peter Jackson simply shooting another film would be enough to rant on about until one or more cows do in fact come home, well, get out the dinner bell and get the damn cows back, I'm already done with this shit. I first heard about this project a little over a year ago and was excited with the quick synopsis of the book that would be screen film. And in the hands of Jackson, I was sure he'd pull something great out of it, but than double thought about what he did to ma fav great big munky man and though, "Fuck, maybe not".
Her name is Salmon, like the fish, first name Susie, played by Saoirse Ronan. In the hands of anyone else this character would have simply killed the film dirtier than a road-side bomb. But low and behold we have a savior in he supple and gentle hands of Saoirse Ronan. The Irish lovely and Stan-the-man, and with some help from Sarandon (who couldn't get more comfortable with her role unless she was getting a massage while the camera rolled) are the three pillars holding the ceiling up, all the while as Jackson himself gets confused with which LOTR movie he's NOT filming anymore.

Which leads me to my next point. After numerous push-backs on the date to drop into theaters, the director decided he would capitalize on the extra time by "making some effects shots larger in scope". He certainty got that chore out of the way. You'll never no how fake a dead digital guy could look until you see him up close. And then you get disappointed in the film, because it was Jackson who did it to your eyes. I was expecting a lot more from a guy who could pull three consecutive Oscar's for best effects with such a potentially visually stunning experience as this book could offer a person. But there in lies the problem. Because sadly, the jump from page to frame was a shaky one no matter who was sitting in the captain's chair. There are so many times when the movie doesn't seem to have the usual flair and robust nature of a hot cup fresh brewed in the morning as his films usually carry. It's only when we see the other-worldly sights and sounds of Susie's heaven that we remember why PJ is such a treasure to the film making industry. So maybe we shouldn't be so hard on the guy? Naw, fuck it, let's cream him for sacrificing the dryer and raw emotionality of the film by blending them UN-seamlessly with the gaudy, overly visceral and uber-celestial "In-between" world she get's stuck in.
As a writer myself, I sometimes get the "Skeevies" about the content of my material not properly getting translated if it were to ever get shot. There's just some things in the world of a story that need to stay with a printed description and not a film transfer. Rather than a overly-fantastical narration from a 14 year old girl named after fish that can swim to Japan. From her first words, it completely tipped me off about the kind of film I was about to watch, and again, I went, "Fuck, maybe not."

My only real problem with the film, besides the fact that Brian Eno (who is a terrific musician and a nice very choice at times) chimes in and tells us how to feel about the scenes we're watching before we get the chance. Oh! And also besides the fact that a kid can fall in love with a girl, and feel so sad after having ONE incomplete conversation with her in a hallway at school. That scene would actually count as having been the first time they officially met each other mind you. But my main concern is, for whatever reason through out the movie (maybe it ws the Skeevies.... OOOOohhhhh), Tucci's George Harvey is apparently a very obvious man who would kill someone and makes everybody uncomfortable. Even though he's been doing for years, it only takes one little girl and some half goth chick to notice he's a sleazy. But the blindest cop in the world who speaks to him in his own living room, a man who get's paid to be suspicious, takes NO notice to how insane it is an unmarried man would build little girl's doll houses to a T so well he could charge whatever he wanted and pay off a Porsche with the proceeds!!!!!! AAAAhhhhh!! GOD!!!!

Mark Whalberg (who can do some very heavy lifting when he doesn't bother so much with the wide-eyed-heavy-breathing-overly-nice approach he genuinely slips into) does the job as much as the script would allow him to do as a grieving and determined father who won't abandon his little girl's memory. One would think, if Ryan Goslin wouldn't have dropped out, or they just would have given him some age make-up, would he have stole a few scenes himself along with Sarandon?

I wanted so much more out of Rachel Weisz (who I love to follow on screen from role to role) I was surprised she even did the film after having finished it. Maybe she was doing someone a favor, she is capable of so much more than her character gave. An absolute delight to watch prance the screen is Sarandon of course. On point as always and get's maybe the two best lines out of the film. Even Micheal Imperioli (who can really deliver and doesn't ever usually miss a beat) gives a new shine to himself, dusting off the North Jersey and buckling down on the Penn State small town. But the kicker of the film, cast against type pitch perfectly, Tucci gives the smooth talking, professionalism of his personality we all know so well a rest. This time he gets down to his own "lovely bones" and pulls something so truely natural, you probably have fifty of these guys in your own neighborhood (pay attention from now on). The unseemly guy-down-the-street with the coke-bottle, grandpa glasses and rotten comb-over hair cut is the performance from him that matches the best of what he can do. Along with his Joe-schmoe garbly voice the dude is a perfect dork. Which is also why you'd be able to connect the dots on why he would eventually snap, kill, and rape little girl, maybe feeling trapped from a divorce and a loser image? Or cutting too maybe roses? Building to many doll houses? Watching too many happy people being happy with things that don't belong to his heart anymore, or things he wished he had might be enough for that... extra nudge? If for some reason, with all my expertise, Christoph Waltz doesn't grab the Golden Man called Oscar, my pick is solidly for Stan-the-man Tucci's (beloved and skin-crawling) performance. You'll just never know the feeling, "Oh, hope that was your homework..." can invoke until Tucci's comb-over-guy-down-the-block passes it through his lips with a retained and slow spread smile.

If you look at the film as a fantastical adventure you'd be half impressed, but I again have to think, who else could have done a better job sewing a seamless seem into the very tricky jeans that encompasses only two things: Family Dramatics and Trauma, and Spiritual Fantasy? It begs the question how much worse the film would have done in the hands of a lesser director and downgraded cast. So at the end of the day, lovers of the book might not have been so happy with how it turned out, but that's been happening for 100 years now. Literally. We're about a little over marking 100 years of cinematic adventure here. So I'll renege on my previous statement and not "cream" him for taking a big chance with risky material and accomplishing the job I always hope for: It was on my mind (and welcomed) the next day.
In short, I'm not exactly surprised with how much better the film might have seemed if maybe they all just laid down with the CGI "In-Between World" and all it's completely indeterminable motivations, and swung the character focus bat a little more at the pitches from the book.
Point made, Focker out (collapses on stage floor from too much sodium penathol).

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