Tuesday, 31 May 2011
I like to be contrary. Also, I like to play devil's advocate. I like a good argument, even if I'm not really believing what I'm arguing for. So for quite a few decades now I've been seriously into Clint Eastwood movies. This has pissed off various friends over the years. It's very hard for people to imagine, Mr Eastwood is nowadays very critically approved of, even a genius to some, but at one time, Clint had the critical credibility of say, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, that's right, that bad. Since winning the Best Director Oscar for Unforgiven, Eastwood as a film maker has seen his work, rightly I feel, reappraised. There are the classics (Spaghetti Westerns, Unforgiven, Mystic River etc), the worthy (Bird, Honkytonk Man, Letters From Iwo Jima etc) and the terrible (Firefox, Pink Cadillac, Every Which Way But Loose etc). You could place Midnight In The Garden Of Good & Evil in the same category as the terrible. This film has a stinker reputation. What was I mentioning about contrary?
It's my second time round with Midnight....and this time I enjoyed the very casual direction, the laid back atmosphere, and unfussy portrait of Savannah's eccentrics. The wit of the script seemed well pitched and not overdone. John Cusack was not so smarmy and annoying as he often is, this time approaching some of the cool he thinks he oozes. Kevin Spacey still sports a ridiculous fake mustache and is the real let down here. He just seems wooden. However, add a decent Jude Law cameo (pretending to be Jimmy Dean), a strong supporting role from Clint's daughter Alison and the performances are uniformly good. But I forgot to mention the real showstopper : Lady Chablis. The drag queen Lady Chablis plays herself, a comedienne at one of Savannah's club's. Chablis pretty much has all the best lines and steals the picture, it's worth watching Midnight...for Chablis alone.
This true tale of one of Savannah's leading socialites James Williamson, on trial for murdering his gay lover, again, as so often with his cinema, defies Eastwood's usual conservative profile. Yes, the trial section of the film really is rather ponderous, but Eastwood manages to focus on other characters and incidents, which perhaps takes away some of the trial's tension, but does make the film more interesting. So, in the end, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil was not as awful as I expected or even remember. It works, in a lazy-bed-ridden-with-illness kind of way. No masterpiece, and definitely faulty, this is still unusual and out of left-field for most Hollywood fare. I can see its reputation growing over the years.
Kevin Spacey is always an intelligent crook in the 90s movies. John Cusack is usually boring. Jude Law begins his Hollywood career playing the beautiful reckless type. Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil is a compilation of clichés, but it is put together from so many pieces that as a whole it's pretty good entertainment.
There is an old-fashioned dryness in the storytelling. The setting in Savannah is overly romantic, especially as it concentrates mostly on rich people. Lady Chablis steals the show any time she is on screen, although you could ask why is she given so much time when she doesn't really advance the plot? But at least Lady Chablis adds a bit of humor and lightness between the dragging court scenes.
To add to the collection of clichés, there is a witch woman called Minerva walking around Savannah night and day. She provides a layer of magic, the good and evil. I like her. Alison Eastwood, Clint Eastwood's daughter plays the love interest. I don't know who to blame, the dad behind the camera or herself, but she is very uninteresting. Had I not been told, I would have never guessed that this was a Clint Eastwood film.
Friday, 27 May 2011
For artists life is material. Life is the source from where to steal for art. The dilemma is to decide where to draw the line. Do we have to plow deep in our personal lives to create material, or should we observe other people's stories and use them? Should we befriend and care for people if they seem like good material? Do we become responsible for their well-being or can we just follow their path and report elsewhere?
Truman Capote wrote a novel about real people and I watched a movie about Capote writing that book. Each act fictionalizes reality. The onion is peeled and each layer that's taken off becomes narrative. In the end, here I am feeling all kinds of feelings about the living artist, Truman, and his choices. As if what I just said about fictionalization went over my own head.
Capote's In Cold Blood became a best-seller once it was released in 1966. He needed to see the two killers of his 'story' hanged for him to be able to write the ending. If Capote, the film, is to be believed Truman was very calculated in his approach to the murderers. He helped them when it helped him and left them alone when he got tired of waiting to be able to write his ending. Capote pictures its protagonist as an unlikable self-obsessed man, who has an almost psychopathic ability to deal with the murderers and his own friends (Harper Lee and his boyfriend) without real emotional involvement. I wonder if it is Hollywood simplifying the character so as not to confuse the audience. How ethical is that then?
In Cold Blood. After Capote died I read his trashy unfinished book Answered Prayers (where he lays into his various literary friends). Yes, Capote was neither likeable nor reliable. That such a figure could become a literary giant in the ultra conservative 1950's is astonishing. Morrissey could have been referring to Capote directly with the title of the single Capote adorned. The real life killers of In Cold Blood would not die, and Capote could not finish his masterpiece. So, the killers Smith and Hickock became the thorns in his side.
Capote deals with how Truman wrote In Cold Blood, the story of two young men who murder a family of four in a small Kansas community in 1959. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Capote, it's an impersonation performance and it's immaculate (Hoffman won an Oscar for his efforts). We watch Truman befriend everyone in the Kansas town where the murders happened, the police chief and his wife, the local farmers and especially one of the two killers, Perry Smith. Dutifully accompanied by Harper Lee (an excellent Catherine Keener), Capote patches together a non-fiction novel of the grizzly events. It takes him years. Great claims are made for In Cold Blood as changing the face of the American novel whilst Truman is portrayed as a user of people to further his career.
And there lies the rub with Capote the film. Excellently acted, well written and directed, Capote engages. But at it's heart, it can't decide weather it's trying to salvage Capote's reputation as the great American author, or reveal his true nature as a bit of a shit. Even with his close-relationship to the killer Perry Smith, there is an overbearing sense of manipulation in Truman's actions, we don't really feel his sadness towrds Perry's death. I re-read In Cold Blood some 10 years ago, it's a good book, nothing more. Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird (constantly mocked throughout the fim) feels more induring to me. Even Capote's Breakfast At Tiffany's novella is nowadays more affectionately known as Audrey Hepburn's iconic moment. As we see in various scenes, Truman Capote's sharp toungue and cruel ridicule of the New York literary glitterati has caught up with his reputation. Could it be that Truman just pissed too many people off?
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Hal Ashby is often regarded as the good guy from the New Hollywood era. Much loved by actors, his modest hippie temperament ultimately turning to drug dependency; he is one of the casualties of New Hollywood. Bruce Dern, who stars in Coming Home, said: "What happened to Hal Ashby, both what he did to himself and what they did to him, was as repulsive as anything I've seen in my forty years of the industry." Coming Home could be the last big hit from New Hollywood, its many problems as a film, a great example why the director-led New Hollywood era came to an end.
Coming Home feels like a rotting corpse. It's smug, indulgent, self-satisfied. By 1978 punk was happening and the 1960's reverence on show in Coming Home must have seemed like arch sentimentality. It really feels like that now. Sure, Coming Home is really well acted. Yes, it makes a comment on the wastefulness of the Vietnam War. But by this time, Hollywood and America itself had really discussed and considered the Vietnam War. As similar rallying calls and comment on this war, both the later Apocalypse Now! and the same year The Deer Hunter would show more ambition and edge. Offering no new perspective or insight, all Coming Home leaves us with is the romance. Jane Fonda and John Voight have chemistry for sure. But you never find it believable why Fonda's liberated nurse would stay with her Vietnam returning husband (an ever reliable Dern). It's also inconceivable that Voight's character would change so conveniently from bitter paralyzed war veteran to all round good guy and the sensitive spurned lover.
Coming Home has its great moments. Unfortunately, Ashby reduces the tension on screen with a soundtrack of great hits of the era (Stones, Beatles) constantly playing in the background like muzak, often unrelated to the scene. I'll remember Ashby for The Last Detail and Shampoo. Give me Jaws and Star Wars over this any day. Coming Home is well-meaning, but ultimately fails with its simplified and sentimental portrait of why America didn't deal with its war casualties with more empathy.
Coming Home is a film I wanted to see because it is a 70s movie, and it has Jane Fonda in it. The Director Hal Ashby is also interesting. I had forgotten that New Hollywood is not always a synonym for subversive or great. Coming Home turned out to be strangely conservative and coy. At times it reminded me of Forrest Gump (1994), which was my first cinematic encounter with the Vietnam War.
Yet, on entertainment level, I was quite content. I was well entertained actually: The angry and dangerous war veteran (John Voight) turns into an adorable lover and a campaigner for peace. The stifled and overly sweet Sally (Jane Fonda) is liberated from the constraints of a boring marriage. Sally's husband (Bruce Dern), returns from Vietnam the same arrogant and ignorant person he was when he went there, although now he is traumatized. When he finds out Sally has been seeing one of the veterans from the recovery hospital (where she had gone to volunteer), the husband threatens to murder someone or himself. A little tense, yes, but not really, because Hal Ashby has added a pop soundtrack on every scene of the film. Even while intimate dialogue is happening, there is always a Rolling Stones song or a Beatles tune playing in the background at a disturbing volume.
Jane Fonda had been vocally against the Vietnam War from the early 1970s onwards. After her visit to Vietnam in 1972 she was dubbed Hanoi Jane and deemed unpatriotic by the US press. In light of her activist past it is not surprising that she said yes to Coming Home, but it is baffling that the film handled the issue so lightly.
Friday, 20 May 2011
Car boot sale. I picked up The Brothers Bloom at a sale in someone's back yard. 2e. I've had some bargains over the years (especially some incredibly rare vinyl) and I love the idea of rummaging through people's cast-offs. Unfortunately, other people's cast-offs is an apt description for The Brothers Bloom. It's well made, but we've been here before.
This could be a homage to the cinema of Wes Anderson or even PT Anderson. Yes, The Brothers Bloom looks amazing, everything is stylized (in a 1960's way), costume exquisite, casting great. Script? This is the problem, there is a level of wackiness and smart arsed knowing to The Brothers Bloom that is off putting. You can drown in the great visual opulence on screen, but It's vacuous too.
All the principles are good, Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz, Mark Ruffalo and Rinko Kikuchi. This film about confidence tricksters actually plays a good one by making you think you're watching something emotionally engaging. You're not.
Still, I can really admire Brody. What a strange looking man, yet beautiful. At the end, where there is the possibility of love, I almost felt a twinge of something. It was nostalgia. I was hoping The Brothers Bloom was some other picture and I could drown in the possibilities. On some other day, in some other mood, this might work. Right now, it feels like a waste.
Last weekend was funny: I suddenly found myself living with two magicians. Both equally bad and both equally enthusiastic about their new and fabulous tricks. I was supposed to play the part of the understanding audience member, who makes the magic work by believing in it. In fact I was the sole target of all this magic and I begged them to leave me alone until they would really learn something...
I'm usually very encouraging, but sometimes you have to be brutally honest to save untalented people from wasting their time on something they will never figure out. Do I really think so? Surely you can learn anything if you put your mind and time to it? The Brothers Bloom has characters that suggest so. It is the story of two con artists. They have made their living through elaborate chains of lies followed by well-timed actions. They are masters at making something look like something that it is not. In the process they have lost themselves. Rachel Weisz plays an eccentric millionaire who passes her time mastering different hobbies all by herself. When she becomes the target of the Bloom brothers, she unravels them in their own game. Love is the antidote to being lost.
The Brothers Bloom is at times an uncomfortable mixture of fairytale, psychoanalyzing, stylish looks, lazy narrating and great actors breezing through various sets in various countries. A quivering naivety persists with a few joyous results, like when Penelope (Weisz) tells the younger Bloom (Adrian Brody) to live life as if the most fantastic story ever told. Then again, it is a little sad in cinema these days, when something that could easily be done visually (that's why it is cinema, right) is only blurted out in lines.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
In 1966 Bob Dylan was on acid, tired and forever touring. He gave an interview to Robert Shelton and spouted adorably arrogant and poignant "truths" about everything and nothing. It's entertaining stuff. Luckily, Uncut magazine published the interview in their latest issue to honor Bob's 70th birthday. In 1966 Bob Dylan had lost the need to please someone or to care for what others thought of him – or so he said. Not caring what others think of you is one of the most dangerous social weapons we have, because usually that feeling is accompanied by a need to get one's own perspectives out there. A rambling follows.
In Bulworth an aging democratic senator begins to tell the truth about his own ineffectiveness as a politician. He talks these truths on TV and rallies where he is supposed to campaign for re-election. He breaks the facades carefully constructed by his aids and financial supporters. He begins to see the extent in which racism persists on every aspect of American society. He adopts a new way of dressing, he begins to rap his political speeches, he falls in love with Halle Berry... Bulworth is entertaining. It is also infuriatingly simplistic, while at the same time a little too cynical. Warren Beatty is preaching his politics, the stuff he thought would be too radical if he actually did involve himself in real-life US politics. So, Beatty stayed where he has power, in Hollywood, and commented with this film in an overly ironic way. At times I feel embarrassed watching his "mad white politician".
Much earlier in 1966, Bob Dylan said to Shelton: "Why, I don't even want to talk about college. It's just an extension of time. I hung around college, but it's a cop-out, you know, from life, from experience. A lot of people started out to be lawyers, but I venture to say that 100 per cent of the really groovy lawyers haven't gotten through school the way they ought to. They've always been freaks in their school, and have always had a hard time making it; So many lawyers just take people for what they are worth." Thanks Bob. The enigmatic silences that followed are a much more effective way to handle a public image. Warren knows this too.
It's tempting to offer a view that Bulworth has been dated inexplicably by the course of history. US politics and its treatment of racial minorities (or nowadays majorities) has been well documented outside of cinema and partially within. Now we have an African-American in the White House, is the message of Bulworth relevant? Does mainstream US politics still serve a sweet line of bullshit to gain votes from the racial underclass and then fail to deliver? Obviously yes, despite some of us all wanting Obama to succeed, it's obvious the call of big corporations still carries the loudest. And even a man like Barack Obama is unable to counter corporate dominance of American policy. These things take time I guess.
It's not the rather cliched political message that Bulworth carries, that politicians lie and corruption is rife in mainstream politics, why this film works. What's impressive is watching a former A-lister make a movie where he lets it all hang out so honestly. The usual accusations of vanity are wasted on Beatty with Bulworth. As liberal LA Senator Bulworth, Beatty orders his own assassination on the eve of his re-election campaign. After a visit to an impoverished black area on his campaign trail, Bulworth decides to adopt a bluntly honest tone and tell it like it is. Not only this, he decides to do so using hip-hop rhymes and black culture to get his no BS message across. So yes, Beatty raps. Not only this, it's embarrassing and ridiculous.
And that's the point. It's to highlight the whole stupidity of the political process that we buy into and we allow to shape our lives. As a film, Bullworth is a mess, full of racial stereotypes and clichés. But it gets away with its message because its heart is in the right place and it is a genuinely original and bizarre film. Bulworth is similar in many ways to Beatty's hippy sexual comedy Shampoo. Like Shampoo, Bulworth feels like it's all over the place, while slyly making political points and being cohesive at its core. I'm not sure if it's a very good film, but Bulworth is brave and at times a funny curiosity which takes risks with conventionality.
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Oh, pity the poor artist. In 2011 trying to be an artist on any level is a thankless task. There is a growing attitude that one must place one's artistic endeavors to one side: "get a proper job" and keep your artistic ideals at the hobby level. This is regardless of talent. Of course those who burn with the desire to express themselves will ignore such pious attitudes and push on. The Wheelers in Revolutionary Road, in the much harsher environment of 1950's American suburbia have put their artistic pretensions aside. They have settled down, had some kids, bought a nice house in a Connecticut suburb whilst Frank Wheeler has a job in computing. April, Frank's wife realizes that conforming is killing them.
When I first read Revolutionary Road over 10 years ago, the book impressed me so much I delved into the world of author Richard Yates head first. I would recommend Revolutionary Road to anyone who would listen, I tried to read all his other novels (though many were out of print at the time). Hell, I even named an album after one of his novellas. Despite receiving some coverage due to this film, the patronage of lesser lights like Nick Hornby and seeing all his work re-issued, Yates remains a well kept secret. I believe him to be one of the greatest writers of the last century and Revolutionary Road one of my favorite books, period. So, as objective as I can be, the film adaptation of Yates' debut novel was always going to be hard.
Revolutionary Road is a fine film, but not a great one. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play Frank and April Wheeler. This is an actors' movie. My main problem with the film is Winslet, not how she performs, but more the attention her role gets. It feels compromised on the premise that it defines her character too clearly, therefore spelling out her thoughts and actions. It's a major flaw in the films' telling of Yates novel and betrays the book's essence. Mendes manages to re-create 1950's Connecticut perfectly (surely the look here a major influence on TV's Mad Men?) But Mendes misses on the flip side to the suburban decadence, the darkness and seedy aspects that so informs Yates' work. There is some over acting in some scenes and the soundtrack seems American Beauty light. DiCaprio is excellent, could this be his best role? One thing Revolutionary Road gets right though is the danger awaiting the Wheelers. It's not an iceberg that's going to finish off Kate and Leo this time. It is that less obvious killer, the white middle class suburban malaise. Watch out, it's gonna get you every time.
I can't remember how, but in the early noughties we came across Richard Yates and ever since we have hunted his books and read them feverishly. They are not so easy to find. It all began with Revolutionary Road, the novel (originally published in 1961). When the film Revolutionary Road was finally made in 2008, it felt to me like a personal secret of mine was being aired without asking for my consent. I was afraid of the novel not being well interpreted and I was scared that any criticism of the film would be devastating to the novel. I was also rejoicing, thinking Richard Yates will finally become a very famous and successful, (dead) writer. I guess he did not. The story was too painful and direct for the masses, even with the Titanic two on screen.
April and Frank Wheeler (Kate and Leo) are at the point in their life together, where the early courtship has ended and has been replaced by a new reality: a suburban marriage with two kids. The dreams they had, the sense of being different and special, their artistic aspiration have all been washed out of their routine lives in the 1950s American suburbia. This story begins where romantic comedies can never venture. It peeks behind the veil called 'happily ever after'. Generally, nobody wants to go there in fiction because they live there every day.
I still take this film personally, maybe more than ever. Now I am the same age with the main characters. I know what it means to argue over how possible 'another life in Paris' is. I look at my life and my friends and I refuse to see April Wheeler around. Yet I know the more I refuse the more likely she is going to rear her 1950s-dead-housewive's head and whisper something venomous in my ear. I will tell her: "April, if you lived now you could keep acting and realizing your dreams, you could get a job of some kind, you could matter outside of your house, you could divorce and have a legal abortion, you could really see the shrink too and not just talk about it."
Even still, Richard Yates punctures through the seeming changes for the better. If he was alive, he would smirk at my delusion while lighting yet another cigarette. Is life really a horrible trek through endless disappointments where happiness is only a moment, never a state? Has life been sold to us with false promises? Are people in the advertisement business the most evil of us all, because they sell us happiness and false hope? I cannot help but to think of Bill Hicks here: Hicks thought the messenger of the uncomfortable truth in America always gets whacked somehow. It certainly happened to Richard Yates, when nobody wanted to keep his books in press or buy them if they were available. Why is the truth always so quiet and undemanding?
Friday, 6 May 2011
The genre of film-noir is something that I fail to grasp. I know I should appreciate it more, but there are problems between me and the 1940s and 1950s noir pieces. It's almost as if there is an explanation I am owed. A connecting thought is missing. But who would give me the missing links, when Nick for example, is so in love with good old film-noir he could probably just get by watching Touch of Evil every evening. It's like we're watching a different film sometimes.
Ok, so there is always the criminal side; the bad guys, the bad cops and the dubious women. Then there is the law-biding rookie or something to that effect, in Touch of Evil it is the Mexican cop played by Charlton Heston. Then there are the beautiful but treacherous women, the blonds and the brunettes and the red heads (although it is hard to tell which ones are red in black and white). The two important aspects of noir (my analysis) are wrongful deeds and sex. And then there is suspense (and how it was maintained back in the early days), it is crucial and it can be excruciating if it manifests in slowness.
Yes, Touch of Evil is pretty good. It brings drugs and rock music into the equation. It looks breath-taking. Orson Welles is genuinely repulsive. Marlene Dietrich is genuinely deep and mysterious as a Mexican fortune teller. She still has a hint of the sexy German accent – sehr gut.
Do we have any idea of the tiresome nature of Orson Welles' art? I'm referring to his constant battles with studios about the control over his work (or lack of). Artistic license. It's occurred to me that hindsight proves to be the prevailing insight in these matters. But in reality you should trust the people you work with. The original spark that gets us all excited should be the yardstick by which we measure other people's visionary zeal. So, going back to poor old Orson, is it possible to watch any of his films (bar Citizen Kane) without reading a disclaimer at the beginning that this is as close to his original vision that remains? That obligatory disclaimer pertaining to Welles cut of Touch Of Evil starts the DVD.
I last watched Touch of Evil on the big screen at the start of this century. I confess now, even in its hacked state, it's a favorite of mine. There's the famous one-shot opening, that establishes the crime and introduces Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh as the newlyweds crossing the Mexican border. They enter a world of drugs, wild flat-top Mexican youth, corruption, extortion, darkness and ultimately the evil of the title. Welles' bloated, hideous cop Quinlan, a man out of time, using old methods to crack cases, up against Heston's future-looking Mexican narcotics cop. Their conflicting methods sets the stage. Welles as director and writer cracks taboo after taboo, from drug referencing (mary jane, heroin, mainline) to a dark sexual suggestiveness not seen on the screen before. David Lynch, for example, tapped into this aspect of Touch Of Evil heavily for his own Wild At Heart.
But Welles use of the camera, the stark black and white photography still stuns with its invention. You can just marvel at scene after scene. Yes, this is the deepest, most intense, twisted noir you're likely to see. All the supporting group of actors (Welles regulars) bring much to the film, including an uncredited Joseph Cotton. But Welles use of Marlene Dietrich tips the film into magical. Dietrich has some 10 lines in Touch Of Evil but she owns this film. What presence, what a face, what a woman. You could argue no actor has had this much impact on a film with so little screen time. Dietrich's Tanya could be talking of Welles when she finally states "He was some kind of a man... What does it matter what you say about people?" Dietrich's scenes burn in the memory, the essence of cinema.
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
As we finished watching Notting Hill on Sunday night, the news was about to break of the death of Osama bin Laden. What a weird world we live in. It's hard not to feel cynical about bin Laden's death. An eye for an eye and all that. The quick disposing of the body (fuel for conspiracy theorists), no trial for bin Laden to face, a USA election campaign around the corner, Pakistan now taking the flack – martyrdom is waiting for bin Laden. I'm half expecting a new video tape to appear with bin Laden declaring he's alive after all. In a world where imagined WMD are a cause for invasion, forgive me for asking if bin Laden really existed. His death was as ghostly as his life. I could try to think of a witty way to link this to Notting Hill, unfortunately, there isn't a way. Just musing.
I've seen this film at least a dozen times. It's the kind of movie you want when your mind can't deal with anything demanding. But recently I've realized I always expect a certain level of demanding, even in the trash I watch. Richard Curtis hit comedy gold as the writer for the excellent Blackadder, the OK but dated Four Weddings and a Funeral and finally achieving genius with Love Actually (which he also directed). Notting Hill sits somewhere in the middle of Four Weddings...and Love Actually. It has some genuinely funny scenes, a decent Hugh Grant performance and the imperious Rhys Ifans who totally steals the film. A big minus point is Julia Roberts. Yes, she's OK pretty much playing herself, but her character is so unsympathetic. She's a classier version of the character played by Andie Macdowell in Four Weddings...but you do wonder what Grant's foppish sensitive soul sees in her. Not credible.
This is also Notting Hill from the pre-1950's Britain. Multiculturalism has not arrived in this version of Notting Hill. It's so fucking white. Director Michell also delves in the shadowy depths of sentimentality that so often afflicts this kind of rom-com. Throw in some choice Ronan Keating on the soundtrack and it's time to reach for the sick bucket. Admittedly, the use of Al Green and Bill Withers on the other hand are inspired. This is so close to comedy gold at times, and I'm sure my view of Notting Hill is stretched this time round by over familiarity. I'm sure the next time I'm feeling completely vacuous, I'll dig it out again.
Films from the year 1999 are special for me because that's the year I traveled alone to the USA for the first time with my pink-covered first solo demos in the suitcase. I was going to be an exchange student in Michigan. I would be one of those exchange students who had to endure high school while in their head they were an artist waiting to be discovered like Cinderella. The point is, I was convinced I was special. Kind of like Julia Roberts playing Anna Scott, while really being Julia Roberts. I felt like somebody who was Someone, although currently hiding in the local Waldorf high school.
In Notting Hill Anna Scott went hiding in a travel book store owner's home. And Julia Roberts went hiding in the role of Anna Scott, although it must have felt a little confusing and too revealing at times. Her whole role is based on the audience leaking into viewing her as Julia, the Pretty Woman. What's shocking this time around is that Anna's style, shades, bags, leather jacket, everything looks so awfully dated. Was 1999 really still that 90s-like stylistically? Was this still a time before Sex and The City (the TV series, not the damned movies) inflicted a fashion and style requirement (like a straitjacket) on every actress in every film produced? The Julia Roberts of Eat, Pray Love (2010) looks much more polished and controlled than here. It is as if in the years between then and now she has honed herself into a product.
Anna Scott in Notting Hill is not a reliable and nice person. She's a spoiled selfish famous person who is used to evaluating others by how much they can help her to remain invisible and hidden from the media. The film gives no justification for William Thacker's unconditional love for her. Other than that he is simply star-struck. Why am I almost weeping at the end when Anna lies on a park bench and her hippie dress reveals a 6-month bump? I guess these times are hard and to naively believe in love and transformation for a couple of hours a day is necessary. I have learned that happiness comes from being less analytical sometimes.