Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday at the Movies #9 - Spectacle

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For certain movies, I like to sit as close to the screen as possible. If a movie is going to have dazzlingly gorgeous visuals, I want the full immersion experience. For this, I blame Fantasia. (By which I mean the Disney movie, not singer Fantasia Barrino, whom I do not blame for anything. She's cool. She was also not named after the movie, but a china pattern.)

For pure try-to-look-everywhere-at-once factor, with added ear-dazzle from the eclectic, over the top and somehow perfect soundtrack, often sung by actors who are not singers (Oh, Elephant Love Medley, you own me) there is Moulin Rouge. Having an artist for a father, I knew what the Moulin Rouge was before I knew what McDonald's was; didn't every three year old know about Toulouse Lautrec and have the ability to identify his works? So when I first heard about this film, I knew it would have that whole more is more is more gloves off spectacle factor. The fact that it was a gorgeous story of an idealistic writer played by Ewan MacGregor who falls in love with Nicole Kidman's Satine, a gorgeous, infamous courtesan/performer with a secret, I was sold before word one.

Chicago - Being a kid in NY in the 70s, I knew who Bob Fosse was, and his choreography is the first thing that "All That Jazz" brings to mind. I was of course far too young to be able to see Chicago when it was a stage show, but there was always something about the little I knew about it that pulled at me, so when the Catherine Zeta-Jones/Renee Zellwiger/Richard Gere version came around, I had to see it. Oh my. Oh my. Dark and dense and definitely not for children. Beautiful in its own twisted way.

The Phantom of the Opera - Andrew Lloyd Webber is always good for spectacle, so I could stop right there. I could not possibly pick between my two favorite shots - the ruined opera house or the wintry graveyard. Not a single shot in this movie went without some degree of jaws dropping. (for the curious, I adhere to Gaston Leroux's version of the phantom, so I'm a Christine/Raoul gal)

The Lovely Bones - content may be triggering for some, but today's choices are based on the visual dazzle factor, and The Lovely Bones has that in spades. Not what one might expect for a story about a fourteen year old girl who watches from her self-created "in between" as her family goes on after her death, in their search for justice and healing. The special effects as we see the in between, which can change at any moment, in any way, since it is created by the one who lives in it, have the wow factor for sure, but that's not the only draw. The everyday shots of her family beginning in 1973 suburbia and moving forward are spot on perfect down to the colors and the entire feel of the film. It's like a time machine. Snapshots taken by the budding photographer main character, and developed after her death (not of the crime, which is never shown) add extra impact.

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