Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Two really bad movies

My daughter came to visit for Christmas week, and I rented Mamma Mia to watch it with her, as it had come up in a phone conversation with her some time ago. We never got around to watching it while she was here, so I watched it Monday night. Or I watched part of it -- I was curious to see how the plot would turn out, so after suffering through a half-hour or so, I sped through the rest. Bad writing, bad cinematography. I normally enjoy Meryl Streep, and I hope she had fun shooting the film. Her performance seemed to have no benefit of rehearsal, as if they started shooting the moment she arrived on set and she had to figure it all out inside her head as the filming progressed. I stopped the film when Pierce Brosnan began to sing because I was feeling almost nauseous watching stars I enjoy and admire doing the worst jobs of their careers.

The set looked somewhat familiar, and I wonder if it might have been used for the Kenneth Branagh version of Much Ado About Nothing.

It seems one of the things I need from a movie is some resonance with or affection for the main character, and that was another way in Mamma Mia let me down. Sophie is a character with very few redeeming qualities. I had the same problem with Chicago, I didn't like any of the people.

On the second film, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the verdict is not yet in. Last night I wanted to file a stack of papers at my desk, so I used Netflix's Watch Instantly feature to watch the first 45 minutes or so of this sequel to a film that's a real favorite of mine. I'd read some reviews that indicated this sequel was nowhere near as good as the original, and of course that's why I've waited so long to see it. The reviews were right. In the scene at Buckingham Palace, in which the lack of backstory has caught up to the characters and Ben Gates has undergone a total personality change, I'd had enough and turned it off, but I may at some point become curious enough to see how it turns out, and I can always fast forward through the Palace scene.

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