Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Movie Report

In a startling turn of events (or, in typical end-of-semester fashion) I have seen three movies in a theatre in less than three weeks. This is not unprecedented, but it's rare. So, a quick wrap-up.

Friends With Money was first, and it was--is--terrific. Great cast, great acting, great script. Oh, and the locations (especially the Santa Monica Farmer's Market) made me a little nostalgic. I think women's friendships are hard to depict, and this did a nice job of trying. That said, there's the underlying wonder--how did Jennifer Aniston get to be friends with these women, all older, all wealthier--in the first place? College doesn't seem right: she's more than four years younger. Same neighborhood growing up? It's just not clear. The others seem as if they might have met in art school or something, but her story is fuzzier. Still, once you get over that question, well worth seeing.

Or not. Later it occurred to me that it might work just as well a a novel or short story. There's little in the movie that strikes me as necessarily visual, for example. It's a very talky film (and I love talky films--John Sayles is one of my favorite directors) and that often means it might just as well be read as seen.

Still, I enjoyed seeing it.

Moving on, Hoot was next. I'd read the book a while ago, as had Mariah, and more recently Mark had read it to Nick. Mariah and a friend went to see American Dreamz (their verdict: not as good as Thank you for Smoking) while the three of us went to see Hoot. Which was, yes, a hoot. I enjoyed it thoroughly. The kids were terrific, for one thing, especially Mullet Fingers, who looks like a young Owen Wilson. Luke Wilson and Tim Blake Nelson were obviously having fun, as was Jimmy Buffet in a small role. It had been a while since I read the book, so I wasn't on the lookout for divergences: it seemed true to my recollection of the book, anyway, and did a nice job depicting what would be lost if the developers took over Florida. It's definitely a "message" movie, as it is a "message" novel, but since the message is save the environment I'm fine with it, and it was a fun way to spend a cold rainy afternoon.

Last night Mark and I went to see Don't Come Knocking. We would normally not go to movies two days in a row, but we were afraid it wouldn't hang around at our little art cinema and the rest of the week looked too busy. What you need to know about this is that we have fairly frequent ritual viewings of an old and now somewhat damaged tape of an American Playhouse production of True West, also by Sam Shepard (starring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise), in our house. Mark has known and loved this play for longer than I've known him. One of our first big dates was out to a production of Buried Child (or was it Curse of the Starving Class?) in LA. And the only other Wim Wenders/Sam Shepard collaboration I know of, Paris, Texas, is also one of our joint favorite films.

So, the short version is, Don't Come Knocking is great. Really terrific. The longer version is that there's some casting genius going on (I love Eva Marie Saint as Shepard's mother). But even more, this is a movie that needs to be a movie. It's about the movies, about the way movies shape our imaginations, for good and, especially, ill, and about the West and the Western as intertwined ideas. But it's also got the best roles for women I've seen in Shepard's work (admittedly, I don't know it all). It's really fun to watch Jessica Lange and Shepard act together, too. She looks like she's having fun with it. And Tim Roth has a scene in a diner that may almost rival Jack Nicholson's tuna sandwich in Five Easy Pieces. (It's different, but equally brilliant.)

We're on a roll here, obviously. What else is out there that we should see?


Becca said...

I never even heard of Don't Come Knocking! But I love John Sayles too, and you know how I felt about Friends with Money.

caroline said...

For something pretty different, try Spike Lee's new (somewhat uncharacteristic) picture, The Inside Man -- a completely satisfying film.

I saw Friends w/Money tonight and was sort of underwhelmed. I loved Nicole Holofcener's earlier movie, Walking & Talking, which also depicts women's friendships (and women at very different places in their lives) but like you, I came away from this one with lots of questions.
Or maybe I'm just in denial that I'm on the verge of 40 and can relate to these women too well...