Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Holiday! Celebrate!

We eagerly went to the Nancy Meyer's-directed chick-flick/Ro-Co on opening weekend, to give a hearty "fuck you" to Apocalypto among other reasons. The movie was super-adorable, incredibly romantic and easy on the eye, but the relentless focus on eye-candy couple Cameron Diaz and Jude Law at the expense of Kate Winslet and Jack Black's much more interesting, combustible, believable pair was really disappointing. I think it must have happened in the cutting room, because surely anyone more interested in charisma and freshness than in box-office numbers wouldn't have let the movie be so lopsided.

It's not that the Law/Diaz romance didn't have its charms, because their overly dysfuctional courtship was cute and sweet at moments. But it was a let-down for those of us excited to see Kate in her first contemporary comedy and Jack sporting his more serious side that so much valuable screen time was wasted just watching the two more chiseled, somewhat vapid blondes moon over each other. And both Diaz and Law are so traditionally good-looking and were so impeccably groomed (a characteristic of Nancy Meyers' movies-- does she ever portray shlumpy women who aren't super-neat and put together?) that their romance belongs in fantasyland. The slower, more self-effacing and bumbling characters that Winslet and Black embodied so well were magnetic, interesting, and new. So of course, they were sacrificed. The meta-ironic part of it all is that Eli Wallach's character, an aging screenwriter, rails against the way box office results and money dictate severything in Hollywood these days. So it would seem!

At the risk of repeating myself, the England-America house-swapping/self-finding trope was much better done by Maeve Binchy in the lovely novel Tara Road. It was made into a movie with Andie MacDowell that I now am eager to Netflix for comparison's sake. I imagine I'll find it more genuine. Nonetheless, it bugs me that the critics are always eager to pounce on female directors for pandering to female audiences with pleasurably gift-wrapped romances, yet they're willing to praise a Michael Mann or a Mel Gibson for laying on the gore and guns and even call them auteurs or visionaries. It's amazing how much of our conception of high-taste is still determined by gender stereotypes.

PS. Speaking of gender stereotypes, Rufus Sewell's turn as a cad of the caddiest sort justifies my putting him on my hunkiest actors in period-dramas list. He almost upstages Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones playing the same role-- and Kate Winslet would have made a much better Bridget as well. How about Bridget Jones, the remake, with Sewell, Winslet, and Jack Black-- and not a ditzy blonde in sight?

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