22 February 2009

Werckmeister Harmonies - Milk - Frost/Nixon

I finally after months got around to watching Werckmeister Harmonies, at work today. I'm not sure I know what it's about and suspect that if I understood what he was getting on about I'd probably roll my eyes or something. But it's a lovely movie to experience on a sense level. It looks beautiful. Sounds beautiful. The camera work and music are bewitching. The acting is good. Once I was able to overcome my impatience, it really charmed. It's a masterwork in tone, I might say. "You've gotta see it for the tone, man!" ;-)

Then tonight I got hijacked by A--, despite my own plans to go see Ballast at UWM and then watch the Benjamin Button movie...

She subjected me to two of my least favorite critically-acclaimed mainstream movies of last year: Milk and Frost/Nixon. I can't believe that Milk was nominated for a screenwriting Oscar because the writing in both movies is generally clunky and, at best, uneven. One is adolescent, the other is glib. Watching them both for the second time, I decided that Frost/Nixon was worse than I thought it was the first time I saw it but that Milk was a little more complicated: It seemed like they shot two movies about Harvey Milk (a good one and a bad one) and then mashed them up together. The acting in Milk was definitely better than in the other film. I also thought that the adaptation of the play Frost/Nixon to the movie was horrible. I mean, maybe it's a Brechtian device but it seemed like half of the actors were under the impression they were performing a play in front of a live audience and I thought a lot of the dialogue might have worked better on the stage but it stunk up the movie house. Then, the efforts to open the play up for the screen were laughable. A-- said she thought it was nice, RETRO! Ha! I thought it was kitsch. Ron Howard is such a douchebag.
Why didn't anyone making Milk realize what a mess that damned script was? (Edit 11/9/12: A better question might be why audiences ate it up. The answer probably has something to do with the fact that the most popular review of Mission: Impossible on Netflix describes it as a thinking man's action film...)

Also, what's with all these movies jockeying for the Silliest-Misuse-of-Puccini's-Tosca-in-a-poorly-scripted-film-of-2008 award? I didn't even know such a thing existed but I can't think of any other reason why Milk, Quantum of Solace, and whatever other movie that was all decided to try to steal the crown from Philadelphia for most nauseating use of opera in an overheated movie...

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