Bog wrote:Italiano and Uri are going to be infuriated at all the hubub surrounding this film (not necessarily performances)...
Uri has seen it already and we talked about it on the phone, so now I know what I must expect from this one (he basically agrees with you).
Of course it may still turn out that I love it, but I wonder - will I see a truly good American movie this year?!
Well… count me in with the meh camp, which, I’m happy to see, has quite a few legions round here. It’s a huge improvement over SLP, but that doesn't say much. In my book, that is. I can see why it won in NY – for a bunch of elderly cinephiles who were young and around town during the ‘70s golden age of American Cinema (and for those who are not old enough but wish they were too) this film is pushing all the right nostalgic buttons. It will be interesting to see what our resident expert witnesses (only Magilla and Tee, since Mike Kelly is not her any more) have to say about the way the time and place are captured here. For me, AH fails short, at least from this aspect. The film just wasn't, well, dirty enough. The ‘70s were gritty, messy, explicit and dripping with all kind of fluids, bodily and other. And here we get a – sanitized is not really the right word – tamed down version of it. And since this piece is not really about the actual plot but about the way characters operate and behave – and look – casting and acting are key here. And it’s problematic.
The world as we know it was revolutionized by “the ‘60s” which brought on us this concept of eternal youth. We are now live in a civilization in which people are supposed to be teenagers their entire lives. And they do. Ok, not in real life, but in pop culture they do. And it’s nowhere as evident as in the way movie stars are supposed to maintain not only their youthful looks but also demeanor. Now - one of the more challenging tasks in making a period piece is to get the way people look and act right. And though that youth obsessed culture was already in motion, most of the people depicted in AH would not be fully affected by it. They would look like adults, or rather, unfortunately, since it was the ‘70s, adults who put on contemporary style. And they’d look decidedly older than people their age nowadays. We don’t get it here, so, it almost has that slight sense of a high school kids putting on a show. The most obvious example is not only Lawrence (dah) but even more so Renner, who looks lost as a Jersey mayor (not to mention a father of five adult kids).
And while the makers and designers where working hard at getting the look right, a certain lack of self consciousness about their bodies people had back then is not naturally inhabited here – Bale seems to be shouting at us to pay attention to his belly and hairdo, Adams’s (admittedly very ‘70tishly moderate) cleavage is not just there but is constantly being celebrated with a knowingly wink. This laborious attention to details prevents the film of having a sense of this off hand sluttiness which was typical of the time and is essential for it to really work. It’s just not really sexy. And since it’s a heterosexual take on a heterosexual story set in the ‘70s (regardless of rumors about some of the film stars, although that might have something to do with the film’s lack of sexual urgency), it should be all about the ladies. Alas, the fact that Elizabeth Rohm comes of best in this department is not a good sign. Lawrence’s wholesomeness (and, indeed, age) is not really best serving her performance. (She does have an easy, good humored air about her which is likeable but not enough). As for Adams – she’s a very bland actress, and unless this blandness is addressed and used (as it was last year in The Master), she just blends in with the wallpaper. She was 38 when this film was made, as was Raquel Welch back in 1978. I do think I rest my case, don’t I? Adams is not a bad actress, but she just doesn’t register enough, certainly not here.
But overall, AH was a rather watchable movie, so the way I see it, in this day and age it does make it a top contender, at least as far as major American films are concern.