So, I just saw Enchanted, and I have to admit it was...enchanting. Which is of course silly, predictable thing to say, entirely lacking in originality yet sweet, and as such a perfect description. The internal logic here is -at best- flawed, the performances are over the top, the bits with the henchman don't quite work and yet....I can't bring myself to hate on this movie. I might even have to give it 4 out of 5 stars when I review it, because this film made me remember what it was like to see Cinderella for the first time.

Like almost all animation films nowadays - and don't let the trailer fool you, this is animation, in almost every frame, despite the fact that there are live actors involved - this film tries to balance two audiences. There are even two audience substitutes here: McDreamy is the cynic rolling his eyes for us, but (like us) ultimately swept along, and his daughter is there for all the pre-teen girls who are sure to flock to this in numbers. And they won't be the worse for it: some jokes will go over their heads but none of them are crude, and the film even has a nice emancipatory vibe, without pushing its message on you.

You have to wonder though: do these kids even get all the references? I mean, have they ever seen a non-postmodern fairytale? Irony's all good and well, but I remember reading through a book of Grimm fairytales half my weight when I was a kid, and there's a power to those stories that Shrek and his followers can't quite equal. And while James Marsden sending himself up is a hoot (at one point, his helper asks "Sire. Do you like yourself?" and Marsden dryly answers "what's not to like?"), Susan Sarandon isn't likely to inspire quite as many nightmares as Snow White's evil Queen did.


Remember, remember...it's November

Against my better judgment, I've decided to participate in NaNoWriMo again, for the fourth time, after winning in 2003, 2004, and 2005 (and taking a break in 2006). I am, very unwisely, trying the hard-boiled genre. With, obviously, a female PI. I have one corpse already, just no idea as to the killer or the motive, but I'm hoping that will come.

I'm not blogging my attempts this time, but if you want to read along, just send me an e-mail and I'll make sure you get regular updated. Keep in mind, this would be quickly written, unrevised prose from someone without notable talent.

Wish me luck!

H. 1065 words and counting.


Control - first thoughts

Is this film gorgeous or what? What else would you expect, of course, from Anton Corbijn, who surprisingly didn't act as his own DP here. I cannot find a right picture to illustrate it, but his compositions are amazingly simple, so stark, yet they work beautifully.

I almost can't believe Sam Riley is a first time actor: he's great here. I'm not even talking about the mimicry - I'm not very familiar with Joy Division and until I searched youtube fifteen minutes ago, I'd never seen Ian Curtis dance - but simply about the intensity of his portrayal, the openness, too. The tragedy of Curtis' life is that it really wasn't all that tragic, but he couldn't take it, and Riley shows us the little boy he really still was. When he was my age, he was already married, with a kid, a band to lead and a lover. All of this happened more or less impulsively. Then, when he was one year older, he had one fatal impulse.

I only have one gripe, really, and it's not even the predictable rise-and-fall structure inherent in biopics. There is one scene where Ian Curtis is -more or less- hypnotized, and Corbijn unfortunately resorts to the old method of repeating phrases he heard before in voice-over. It's such an unfortunate trick, and the scene would have been much more effective had we been able to fill in his thoughts ourselves: we've heard what's been said to him, it's even been filtered for us since this is a film, and we really don't need to be told explicitly what's in his head.

Ok. I'm off to download Joy Division songs now.



It's interesting to watch Notorious, as I did, the day after Casablanca. The first things you notice are rather superficial: how much Claude Rains aged in the three years in between, for instance - though looking at his birth date, the surprising thing really is how he managed to look so young before. But there are more telling differences.

Most of all, Ingrid Bergman is, I'll admit it, a more interesting character here. In Casablanca, she's an ideal being: a beautiful, smart, noble woman who has to make a very difficult choice between two worthwhile men. Her doubts are played out wonderfully, and you can imagine you inspire the passion of both men, but outside of the context of Casablanca, she wouldn't be very narratively interesting. Her Alicia in Notorious, on the other hand, is amazing: self-destructive, smart, full of abandon and desperate to find someone she can love and who can love her back. Witness the scene in which she tries to make a chicken dinner: it's a total failure, but she can laugh about it, and who wouldn't rather have that than a perfectly prepared dinner with a bore? It's amazingly bold for that time, too: it's obvious that not only does she drink too much, but she sleeps around, too.

All of which makes it so unpalatable that by the end of it, to be redeemed by reducing her to a powerless damsel in distress who has to be rescued by a man who's consistently humiliated her throughout. Oh, I'll admit, I got stomach pangs watching that last scene, because Grant and Bergman do have amazing chemistry, but I cannot see a single reason for her loving him so much aside from her own self-loathing. He's pristine, he's a patriotic good guy who would never admit to a mistake, and well, no match for Bogie's Rick, in my opinion.

Is it bad that I found myself sympathizing with Rains? Really, there is so little attention paid to the nefarious nazi plot (a phrase I used before, but I like alliteration, so hey) that it's hard to not see Rains simply as a poor sap fooled by a beautiful woman who betrays him. True to Hitchcock fashion, he's a mamma's boy, but he defies his - very scary - mother to marry Alicia, and what does he get for it?

Oh well. I did love the movie, despite my ranting. It's Hitchcock doing what he does best. And if you're interested in more Hitchcock, Joe Valdez has devoted the whole month of October to his films, so go check it out.