Monday, December 06, 2004

Pop Culture Round-Up

Why didn't anybody tell me that Cy Coleman passed away recently? I read about it this weekend in an issue of Entertainment Weekly that was already a couple of weeks old when I got around to flipping through it, and was saddened to hear it. I listened to a bit of the original Broadway cast recording of City of Angels as I was getting ready for work today, in mourning.

Closer was disappointing. There's simultaneously much and little to say about it. I haven't yet read Marber's original stage play, but would like to do so sometime soon, to glean any new insight into what went wrong with the movie. Part of the reason is that it was abysmally miscast. I know what you're going to say: "that cast is a big part of the reason why I wanted to see the movie in the first place!" And I agree with you. That's what got me in the door, too. However, as I was watching the movie, I started to realize that just because you're making a movie about sex doesn't mean it always has to contain inherently sexy people. In fact, sometimes a sexy movie is strengthened by the ordinariness of its actors. After giving the matter some thought, I've decided that Clive Owen should have been replaced by his King Arthur castmate Ray Winstone, Juliet Stevenson should have appeared in the Julia Roberts role, Paul Bettany would have ripped the place up as Jude Law's character, and Ludivine Sagnier would have been a much better choice than Natalie Portman. Feh. I dunno. I'm, in theory, a big fan of the fucked-up, bed-swapping, sexual manipulation, emotional cruelty genre, but I can't remember the last time I saw one that was actually worth my time. (Don't get me started on either We Don't Live Here Anymore or The Shape of Things.) There comes a point at which, if the characters haven't been so perfectly conceived that their littlest movement or gesture becomes heartbreaking because of the way it resonates with everything that came before it, you're just trying to out-LaBute LaBute with frank language and despicable behavior in an effort to shock the audience. That's not teaching me anything about the human experience. It's just kind of boring. (To read more about the movie, check out Stephanie Zacharek's write-up on Salon. It's one of the few recent movies I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment of. On. About. Sorry for the prepositional spew there.)

And, if there's one comedy truism that Arrested Development proved incontrovertible with last night's episode, it's that tear-away pants are always funny.

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