After a busy month doing jury duty and working on my dissertation concept paper, I’ve finally been able to see a few flicks, indeed, have gone out to the movies for the past three nights and while I didn’t particularly love any of the films I saw, did appreciate certain aspects of each of them. And I did find that of the three, only one “got it right.” By get it right, I mean understand the medium — what it is movies are all about.
To be sure, the makers of the second movie I saw, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End understood the business of making money, but seem to have lost sight of the art of making movies. With a successful franchise, they just needed to create something which would offer some eye-catching scenes for the preview. That said, while I couldn’t really follow the plot of the flick, I did enjoy the special effects and found the first half (Itself the length of some movies) quite entertaining. I did not enjoy Johnny Depp‘s performance as much as I had in the two previous Pirates movies,* perhaps because I had seen it before.
But, the performance I just saw in La Vie en Rose, that of Marion Cotillard as Édith Piaf just blew me away. Her portrayal of that tragic French chanteuse is alone well worth the price of the movie ticket. Where the movie excelled in acting and set design, it suffered in relationship. While the movie did show several of the doomed singer’s relationships, it didn’t present (what I call) a “defining” relationship which drove the movie. And I believe movies (in general) need such a relationship to hold our interest — and to move us.
(That said, there were some powerful scenes in the flick, both involving relationship which did move me to tears.)
The latest Pirates movie quite unlike the first also lacked such a relationship. The one movie which did have one was the very entertaining, but quite raunchy Knocked Up (a term which, in other news I am happy to report, could be used to describe the current situation of one of my sisters-in-law). While the movie is not nearly as good as the director‘s recent The 40 Year Old Virgin (to which many have compared it), it is thoroughly entertaining (if a bit over the top at times).
There not only do we see the developing relationship between Seth Rogen‘s Ben Stone and Katherine Heigl‘s Alison Scott, the woman whom he “knocked up,” but we also believe some of the secondary — and tertiary — relationships, between Alison and her sister (delightfully portrayed by Leslie Mann) and between Ben and his friends. Because we believe the relationships, we become more invested in the characters — and concerned for their well-being. We want Ben to grow up so he can be a husband to Alison — and father to their baby. And we want her to loosen up a bit so she can better appreciate Ben’s quirks — and the general zaniness of life.
Of course, the relationships alone don’t make the movie. The cheap humor did provoke a few laughs.
This flick does show that director Judd Apatow “gets” the medium in which he is working. It’s about relationship. No wonder his movies have done so well at the box office.
A past post on a similar theme: Romantic Chemistry – A Lost Cinematic Art?
*I offered some thoughts on the second Pirates flick in this post.