Sunday, February 22, 2009

Super Late Reviews: Deadwood, Gran Torino, Coraline

There is no requirement for me to be timely in my reviewery.

Coraline. The third act becomes a silly videogame, losing entirely the psychological aspect of the story, but Terry Hatcher is amazing and terrifying as the voice of the mother: she captures well the bored housewife, the seductive caretaker, and the evil witch really well. The real reason -- and I think almost the only reason -- to see Coraline is just for the cool 3D visuals and this weird hand-crafted diaoroama world. There is a woman whose job it is to knit these sweaters for the characters to wear.

Gran Torino. Weirdly, this reminded me of Enchanted, that movie in which Amy Adams crosses over from the fairy tale world into modern day New York: the point of the movie should be in the clash between worlds, but the filmmakers end up making New York a lot like a fairy tale world and in the end the lead actress is the only reason to see the film. Gran Torino is supposed to take Eastwood's Spaghetti Western character and drop him into the modern world and Eastwood is thoroughly amazing to watch him in total control of this personae he has mastered over the years. But in the end he is surrounded by a lot of bad acting, especially from his Tuesdays with Morie kid who blow a crucial scene, and the end of the story is far too pat -- as, if not more, simplistic than the Westerns. It has a very short story quality.

Deadwood. I just finished Deadwood season three and had some thoughts on the way it ended. Obviously Hearst/Major Dad is going to get away -- otherwise how is he going to have newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst (one of the last lines on Deadwood is G Hearst telling Merrik he is going to start a newspaper of his own), who will be a big source for Citizen Kane, and eventually produce dog show winner kidnap victim Patty Hearst. But even given that the conflict with Hearst had more in common with man versus nature than man versus man. They are not trying to best Hearst, or even hurt him a little or withhold what he is looking for. He gets Alma's claim and leaves unharmed. Trixie shoots him, though not badly; to save her there is a conflict about killing another perfectly nice hooker, who they can pass off as Hearst's shooter to satisfy his bloodlust. I thought for a moment the story about be about how Al wont just kill this poor girl who did nothing wrong, how he will reveal more of the moral side he has that we occasionally see hints of. But no -- he kills her. The people of Deadwood do what they can to survive the storm that is George Hearst, and they do. It was a different ending that the bloodspray I wanted, but it makes a kind of sense on another level was well. When Wild Bill Hickock died Brad described it to me as the end of an era, the end of the old West and the passing of the baton. The new era is the super-capitalism of Hearst (I do not know what the right word is here to describe him; I never write about economic systems and do not have the vocab for it; ) -- the distanced bureaucracy where you do not kill with your hands, as Al does, but you hire other people to kill for you, let other people run your businesses (like Cy). The people of Deadwood survive, but will we? In some weird way I feel like there is some continuity between Deadwood, The Sopranos, and the Wire -- as if somehow they are all connected: The Greek from the Wire is an inheritor of George Hearst, and Tony Soprano can trace a line from Al.


Madd_Hadder said...

I actually disagree with Coraline being worth seeing for the 3D effects. The colors and design are cool, but the 3D stuff did not jump out enough to be worth the extra $2.50. With the exception of the needle during the opening credits I felt robbed. Plus, there were long sections of the movie where you coudl take off the glasses and not even have it be blurry. Weak. I am really starting to reject the idea of movies heading into 3D terrirtory on a regular basis.

Voice Of The Eagle said...

Coraline is the movie I wanted Pan's Labyrinth to be. Make of that what you will.

ba said...

no comment on the inherent racism and sexual perversion in coraline? for shame, geoff....for shame.

Joe Gualtieri said...


I agree with you completely re: a connection between the Wire and Deadwood. As a third part of the axis though, I'd include the first two seasons of Veronica Mars over the Sopranos. Perhaps economics come into it more where I left off, but the first season of the Sopranos struck me as pure Shakespearean tragedy, while the second merely retold the first with extra sex and violence. Veronica Mars, among its other concerns for the first two seasons is heavily concerned with a different end of the late capitalist system; while the Wire mainly examines those who aren't allowed in the Game, VM examines the middle class in some of the same ways.

Anyway, the Sopranos and Veronica Mars aside, that connection is definately there. Deadwood observes the beginnings of modern capitalism while the Wire examines the end-product of that system.