Movie Reviews, Chick-Flick Edition: "P.S. I Love You" And "Atonement"
Ever have a time on the boat when you put off a quarterly Preventive Maintenance item until the end of the quarter, and then, figure that since you have the initial conditions set, you'd just go ahead and do it the next week to get credit for the new quarter? Here in CivMount, I have a quarterly PM to go to a chick-flick with my wife. I didn't get around to last quarter's movie until after Christmas, and took care of this quarter's requirement during the first week. Here's my reviews -- from a guy's perspective -- of two movies your wife might be dragging you to soon.
The first movie we saw was "P.S. I Love You", starring Hilary Swank. She's a fine actress, but I've never really thought of her as sexy. I still don't after seeing the movie. This movie had some funny scenes, and I liked the device of using an opening scene argument to establish the various relationships and conflicts you'd see later on, but the movie lasted way too long -- a good 30 minutes after what I thought was a logical quitting point. My recommendation to any guy dragged to the movie is to get up, say "Good movie", and leave after she reads the letter in Ireland -- for extra points, you can fake having some tears in your eyes. Hopefully your wife will follow you, and you won't have to sit through the last half hour, which is pretty much about shoes. (Seriously.) Since I only drifted off to sleep once, I give it two Stereotypical Irish Drunks out of five.
Last night, we went and saw "Atonement" on its opening night here in the Boise area. I had high hopes for this one -- it's on a lot of Top Ten lists for 2007 movies, and Keira Knightley, despite having no boobs, has that nice underbite that can be attractive at times. The theater was completely full, which I hate; I don't mind sitting next to my family, but sitting jammed up next to strangers isn't my idea of a good time. First, the good -- the performances were uniformly good, and the cinematography was outstanding; expect a cinematography Oscar for the film, based mostly on this incredible 5 minute tracking shot of the beach at Dunkirk during the early stages of the evacuation.
The rest was all bad. It's not that I couldn't understand the characters or their motivations; it's that I actively disliked them. While that can be effective in movies sometimes, it works better if the characters are more complex -- these ones weren't. Even worse, we were forced to watch many scenes repeatedly, Teletubby-like, from different "perspectives"; this device added absolutely nothing to our understanding of the plot or characters that a continuous narrative cutting between everyone couldn't have done much less boringly. Beyond that, the people making the movie couldn't count (apparently believing that the German invasion of France took place four years after 1935, rather than in 1940 as it actually did) and the depiction of anarchy on the beaches at Dunkirk was decidedly un-British and, most likely, just plain wrong; Brits may lose battles, but they always maintain their dignity when they're retreating.
This seemed to be one of those movies where they tried to use things like "symbolism" and "metaphor". There were lots of scenes of people falling into deep water (including a fountain that shouldn't have been more than a couple of feet deep), and I started thinking that maybe this was supposed to represent the absolution one can gain from a baptism; then I thought that it was surprising that a modern "popular with the critics" film, especially a British one, would have such a theme; then I realized I just didn't care. The movie blew.
When we were first married, my wife and I saw "Passage to India", and since then have compared every ponderous, boring movie we've ever seen to that one. I started thinking about "Passage" about a half hour into "Atonement". Because this movie took two hours from me that I'll never get back, and since we were in a crowded theater so I couldn't even talk to my wife, I give this movie "the finger".