Saturday, May 12, 2007

Too many messages, multi media sponge

This week we watched several movies. First, Ray. That is to say, the husband watched it for the second time, and I watched almost all of it, with just a little dozing off at the end. Overall, a good movie, if a bit long. The odd thing about watching Ray was that I found myself utterly missing the controversy of his "turning gospel into sex music," largely because I have never heard his early material any other way. I can't decide if the lyrics or the music were originally gospel, but either way, it was difficult to understand why everyone was so worked up, so commonplace is the music today. In fact, throughout the movie I found myself thinking "Ray Charles sang that, too?!" I literally had no idea how much a part of the fabric of American musicana he really is, so in that respect, the movie was enlightening. (I know, I know, this only shows my intense musical ignorance, but I can't believe I am the only one to make this realization!)

I did, however, find the depiction of the women in his life troubling. His wife's character was underwritten at best; his first major affair might as well have been a paper doll for all the development she got; and his other major affair, though played compellingly, was still thinly drawn. In some ways, it's as if the movie treated the women as shallowly as Ray himself did, which I would admire if I thought it was done on purpose, but I doubt it. Subtle this film was not. The only woman worth paying any attention to was his mother, but she was only seen in flashbacks, making her less of a presence than perhaps she deserved to be.

And then, as I mentioned, it was too long, which is really not surprising, given the recent bloating of cinema. I am not very supportive of the current "longer is better" trend in movies. It's just getting ridiculous. SpiderMan 3, one of our other recent viewings, could have been shorter by 25 minutes and had just as much impact (or lack thereof, if truth be told). In fact, the additional time devoted to whiny Mary Jane and dancing Peter Parker made me like them less, not more, so the intent to expand the "emotional content" of the film was lost. I have seen all the SpiderMan movies faithfully (the husband is a fan) and this was my least favorite, by far, which led us to have a discussion about third movie sequels on the way home and their almost overwhelming tendency to be worse than the first or even than the second.

This revelation is disheartening given the fact that this summer promises something like 12 or 13 separate sequels or three-quels (in addition to Spidey, there's Bourne again, Pirates a go go, Harry Potter umpteenth, Shrek with more characters than ever, Oceans 13: even better suits, 28 Weeks Later (different actors, more terrorism), Hostel we are the new Saw,The Fantastic Four with a surfer dude, Evan Almighty with another of those Daily Show dudes, Rush Hour comes again, and even another Halloween). Do we want to place bets that any will be better than or even as good as the original? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Oh, as we also saw Nacho Libre. I laughed twice and then fell asleep. At one in the afternoon. Enough said.

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