Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Sith vs. Crowe

Ok, so I meandered down to the Century 20/Daly City for the DLP projected "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith." The opening sequence is so visually PACKED, that it began to look like the ILM Audition Reel to me. I wasn't even sure who was fighting at one point. It's pretty though. Then I could literally feel Mr. Lucas launch MS-Word and begin to type dialogue. At that point, I actually began to doze off. The dialogue between Anakin and Amadala is just soooo... dull. Natalie Portman CAN act. We saw her do it in "Closer"! But here she is, sort of looking like she has been up since 4 a.m. in costume and makeup, waiting for the set up, and finally the moment for the performance has arrived and Lucas is more concerned with where she's hitting her marks against the green-screen and I swear I can see all of that on her face: just get the lines out, because he's watching what's going on behind me. The rest of the cast don't look necessarily lost as much as adrift in the fact that the Production is technically so much larger and complicated than anything they seem to feel they can bring to the screen themselves. It sort of clears up for me the odd fascination with Charles Heston and the like during the 60's. Yes, some of those performances were huge and campy. BUT, Cecile B. and his cronies KNEW they had to be! I mean, if you're gonna cut from parting the Red Sea to "Let my people go," you better have that actor deliver the line with force, bordering on camp! It seems that Lucas tries to create the details of this world to such specificity and 'reality' that he chooses (or allows?) to have his characters react with relative nonchalance. These people should be in a state of CONSTANT STRESS and just BITING each other's heads off!! Those were the sparks that made the first trio (Luke, Leia, Han) engage us. Here, they all seem pretty resolved to the idea that, "Oh, there are at least 3 more episodes to go, so why burn out now?" And poor Hayden... left to be petulant and then covered in latex... Anyway, I could go on, but I'll just stop there.

Afterward, I popped over to a preview screening of "Cinderella Man" with markosf , starring everyone's bad boy Russell Crowe. Yeah, he might be an asshole in 'real life' but man can the man act!! For a guy who is reportedly so FULL of himself, he can bring such pain to his characters! Renee Zellwegger is fine as his wife and she actually manages to keep up. Paul Giamatti is GREAT as his manager! In fact, it screams "Oscar Turn"! He IS the next Burgess Meredith!! Ron Howard actually has moments where he expands his technique to something more 'nightmarish' and edgy than I can recall seeing from him before. The fights are truly quite violent, and Howard has a couple stunning cinematic tricks up his sleeve before it becomes too trite. The screenplay itself is fairly routine and owes any of its suspense to the existence of "Million Dollar Baby." In fact, "Cinderella Man" only made me appreciate "M.D.B." even more. In the end, though, Crowe is amazing to watch... He just is!

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