East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The kids are alright [shorts]

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell): Graham Greene would've considered this paedophilia chic. Doesn't J.K. know that 17-year-old boys don't lust after 14-year-old girls? (It's 50-year-old men who bought all the Olsen twins' nude calendars.) Screenwriter Steve Kloves is really starting to swing: now that we're up to the overlong books, his job is mostly editing. This cherry picking means the movie's never boring in two and a half hours, which doesn't mean it wouldn't be better at two flat. Surrounded by slumming pros, the kids are starting to get their act together, especially Rupert Grint (Ron), whose petulant moments are finely wrought. Shame that after this he'll never get a decent role.

The Legend of Zorro (Martin Campbell): Not as good as the last one, but not as not as good as others would have you believe. You could attribute the drop-off to lack of surprise (yeah, like you couldn't pick every twist of the last one.) More significantly, although I didn't find Anthony Hopkins particularly swashbuckly, at least his role wasn't that of THE FUCKING KID. Big plus: Banderas and Zeta-Jones still hot and are not noticably disturbed at being on the wrong side of 35. Banderas knows the royalty checks from Puss in Boots will be coming for decades. Zeta-Jones probably just expects to inherit soon.

Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright): Hard to fuck this up, unless you're fool enough to change the setting. Cuts must be made, so the elaborate intro where no clear protagonist emerges is reduced to some neat meet-the-characters tracking, in which it's clear we're here to gawk at Keira Knightley's movie. Strictly speaking she's too attractive for the role, but since she's suddenly learned to act, I'll overlook this. (Jena Malone, who's always been able to act, is too old to play Lydia, but the costuming does a fine job of masking this.) Most other characters are drawn broadly (even Judi Dench!), while Matthew MacFadyen, as Darcy, doesn't do much but does what he has to. There's some non-Austen dialogue, necessary even when it doesn't fit, which Simon Woods handles best: he plays Bingley for laughs. Would've liked to see more of him and his IRL ex Rosamund Pike, now dating director Joe Wright, who's good enough to flourish in the ball scenes which are the point of period movies, while getting in all the literary stuff painlessly: Darcy's crucial letter is voiceovered, but the camera doesn't stay on Lizzie reading, because that's lame (unless she's played by Judi Dench); we skip forward. This might seem basic but most first-time feature directors would get this wrong. Watch out young love, it's a losers' game.


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