Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Opinion/Review - sometimes one has to turn it off....

I'm not sure why I get so picky about certain film genres and subjects, but I do.  I am aware that I prefer films that have likeable characters (or relatable ones) and a wrapped up ending.  I also prefer positive films over depressing ones with seriously morbid and dark characters.  I just don't care for movies that I can't feel emotionally connected to, or can escape while watching it.

If a film doesn't appeal to me while I'm watching it, and I'm at home while this is happening, I'll usually give it at least 20 minutes before I stop watching.

Here are two examples:

Dangerous Liaisons:

Last night I gave Dangerous Liaisons an hour before I stopped.

This was a film that got rave reviews when it was released back in the late 1980's.  So why did it take me so long to finally sit down and watch it?  Because even back then it didn't interest me.  I've watched many costume dramas and have enjoyed several, but this film's ads didn't win me over.  I can't remember why.  I'll have to watch an old trailer.  However, given that I couldn't sit through the last hour of it, I suspect it had something to do with the acting.

Most of the cast were very good.  The only one who wasn't was the charmer himself, Valmont, played by John Makovich.  My problem with him was when his character professed his love, whether true or not, his voice would become stiff and monotone. Every time he had to act emotionally with Michelle Pfeiffer (and even when he was saving the beggar whom he did for show more than anything else), his voice was flat.  It ruined the film for me and after a while, I had to shut it off.

I wondered if maybe it was because the director was worried that American audiences wouldn't be able to tell when he was telling the truth or lying, so they made him an unconvincing liar, although no one seemed to notice.  Or maybe he as an actor couldn't make himself believe the lies his character was telling.  So in a way he had trouble acting out a pretense.  It was just unnerving after a while.

Rather than enjoy his lustful scenes, I become more and more repulsed.  There just was no charm in him after a while.

ironically, I found Uma Thurman pleasantly surprising.  I was never a big fan of hers, although I do think she's a good actress.  But here she's playing a character so unlike the ones we've seen her portray within the past 20 years.  Most of her roles have been tomboys or tough girls.  Here we get to see that she has a range and can play a demure engenue quite convincingly.

I do think Swoosie Kurtz was terribly miscast.  She comes across as an upper-crust wannabe, rather than being of that stock.

And Keanu Reeves, often accused of his stiff acting, might have taken lessons from John Malkovich while working on this film, although, I have seen plenty of Keanu's films and have less trouble with his acting than I did Malkovich's in this one.

My Beautiful Laundrette

Another Stephen Frears film (Dangerous Liaisons is his as well).  This one lacked appeal for me within the first 30 minutes or so.  I found the lead actor with his plastic smile to be too bland and superficial.  I can imagine the director telling him, "just smile vacantly and the audience will be charmed by you."  Not really.

And the dirty underworld he gets embroiled in didn't win me over either, nor did Daniel Day Lewis.  The blonde streak didn't bother me.  After all, I was a teenager in the 1980's and loved some of the looks, so that was fine.  I just didn't care for the character.

None of them appealed to me.

I find I'm not too keen on Stephen Frears work.  I plan on watching The Deal and The Queen, hoping for something a bit more substantial than the above two films.