Friday, June 13, 2008

Recent Choice Ed Gonzalez

As is often the case with a film review by Ed Gonzalez in Slant Magazine, I had no intentions of seeing this movie, left his review with every intention of not wanting to see it, and feel supremely edified having read his opinion:
[...] worse than the filmmakers' reductivist worldview is their want to tell an Altmanesque tapestry but actually doing so in the bratty, über-punk vernacular of Faith Akin. Since Marcela's depressing way of life isn't profoundly connected to the havoc of the floods that ravaged Prague in 2002, the many allusions to that tragedy feel at once trivial and shameless. But what is Beauty in Trouble anyway other than a dull, borderline contemptuous portrait a pretty young thing escaping her down-and-out life after falling in with a rich and caring older man? Sadly, Hrebejk and Jarchovský seem to understand that their story runs on empty, which is probably why they settle for lazily collaging snippets from the lives of their characters throughout and setting their montages to the music of Czech singer Raduza. So, can anyone tell me what the Czech word for magnolia is?
His recent review of HBO's Recount is equally cutting and a pleasure to read, despite being pretty obvious:
The puppets from Genesis's "Land of Confusion" video give more multifaceted performances than [Tom] Wilkinson, Laura Dern (as Katherine Harris) or Ed Begley Jr. (David Boies), all saddled with characters that seem to have been struck from either black or white molds (as a shrill signpost of his goodness, Begley's character is seen lapping up vanilla ice cream throughout) [...] Only interested in scoring cheap shots, Recount tells us that conservatives are bullies on a very fundamental level, but it's most effective at conveying the sense that Hollywood liberals are only interested in making movies that showcase how right they are—or, in this case, were. And though they were, that's no excuse for this movie's wholesale smugness.
I personally expected to and did enjoy this movie as delicious piece of heavily partisan junk food. And frankly: Would anyone bother watching this movie unless it was to wrap themselves in that smugness like a warm blanket? Or to avoid having to read a book explaining all the technical bullshit related to the Florida recount?

As it stands, my main problem with this film was that even on a short leash, I hate Dennis Leary. Ultimately, Recount was more boring than smug, due to its frequent and glaring bits of hackneyed dramatic license (e.g. the fictitious chance meeting between Wilkinson's James Baker III and Kevin Spacey's Ron Klain that concludes the film. Whoops: RETROACTIVE SPOILER ALERT!!!11!!). So, if you wanted to curl up on your unbleached hemp futon with some soy- or rice-based organic ice cream and watch this with your partner and your adopted Nambian child, I would say go for it. It's exactly what you were looking for. It even has a funny, vocal impersonation of independent-non-grata Joe Leiberman. (What is up with that guy?)

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