Last night at the movies

Elizabethtown.

Often the sleeves in which the DVDs come can be quite entertaining. They look pretty much like what you’d expect to see on the shelves in a DVD shop in the West, but that’s where the resemblance ends. The blurb about the film is often in mangled English; the cast list is frequently not the actual cast list; and the excerpts from the reviews are sometimes unflattering.

I didn’t actually know anything about Elizabethtown and had seen it on the shelves for some time, so this was a curiosity buy. For once, the reviews reproduced on the sleeve were fairly accurate:

“When sung lyrics outshine scripted conversations, your movie is hitting the wrong notes.”
“Cameron Crowe’s feel good experiment comes across like a souffle that never rose: undercooked and underwhelming.”

It’s meant to be a comedy, but the whole film limps along like a crippled, arthritic snail suffering from a fallen arch. It’s not clever enough to be dry comedy, and it’s not fast-paced enough to save itself from being little more than a long-winded melodrama (or perhaps that should be “mellow drama”).

Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst just don’t seem plausible. For a start, he’s much too pretty and way out of her league. Neither of them seems to have any flair for comedy, although it might’ve been the script and direction which fell flat.

The film, having reached its climactic point, then tails off into a long denouement where Orlando drives home following the instructions and listening to the music prepared by his sort of girlfriend. This would be a project which would take days for any normal person to do, and I think most people would wondering why they’d bothered.

As I’ve said before, if these things weren’t so cheap, I’d be way annoyed to have actually spent money on this. Another coaster for my collection.


Syriana.

At last something with a little more substance was my reaction when I started watching this. It’s the tale of dirty doings in the Middle East to protect American oil interests. All the different parties are represented: the oilmen and the CIA; the freelance agent; the progressive, liberal Arab prince; his idiot pro-American brother; the disaffected, unemployed Pakistani who becomes a suicide bomber.

George Clooney plays the freelance agent who’s instructed to deal with the liberal prince, but is then taken out of the loop when things go pear-shaped. At the start of the film, he is supposed to destroy a missle that has fallen into Iranian hands, but it turns out there are two of them. The irony is that the missile that wasn’t destroyed at the start of the film is used in the attack on the tanker at the end.

If anything, the film was a little obvious and a little clichéd. We’ve seen these sorts of films before – conspiracies; the bad guys always seem to be a step ahead; the good guys lose. It’s OK, but it might’ve been better if it’d been an allegory.

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