A story about "The Cat Who Said Cheese" — 50 weeks ago
Lillian Jackson Braun is the Garrison Keillor of the mystery world.
Lillian Jackson Braun is the Garrison Keillor of the mystery world.
This is a wishy-washy at best. It’s not particularly badly written — some of the lines are zingers. What the movie lacks is chemistry, which we usually see more of from Dermot Mulroney. I just didn’t get a sense of interplay between any of the characters. They were saying lines, but they did not communicate. The only part of the film where I got a sense of communication and feelings was the part where the Debra Messing character learned her sister Amy had slept with her fiance, which led to the break-up of the relationship. But it was transitory and not enough to carry the movie.
Oh my gosh, but I like these way more than I should… The dark-chocolate shell, the dark chocolate creamy middle. Which makes my middle kind of soft and creamy, too. No one should invent temptation like this.
Tree of Life starts out sober and gets grimmer from there. The basic premise is this: in a family of three children, one child dies. The survivors immediately find themselves sucked into a morass of sorrow that doesn’t relent throughout the entire film or apparently ever again in the entire lineage of the family as it shows one of their other children all grown up and still floundering in the morass of angst. Intercut with miniature homages to Ingmar Bergman and Friedrich Nietzsche. (The film stars Brad Pitt and Sean Pean. Frankly, I would expect this kind of overblown ego-stroke from Sean, but Brad disappoints me here in extremis. Sad enough, he not only acted in it, he worsened his offense by producing it.) Apparently, the family’s grief is so lasting and monumental that after wallowing in sorrow for about 20 minutes, the filmmaker then launches the film out into the cosmos, combing the cloud nebulas and star systems (with a stop at what appears to be the cantina from Star Wars for a close-up of one of its most lumpy denizens), presumably to search for God to make Him answer for the epic fail that resulted in this family’s descent into the everlasting doldrums. With the requisite operatic soprano ariating in a minor key, of course. And that’s pretty much the whole first half of the movie: vignettes of morose people who are all morose in disconnected ways, interspersed with shots of space and jellyfish and then a meander down the “cell-to-water-creature-to-dinosaur-to-tada!-man” tangent that doesn’t really have a flipping thing to do with anything that went on before, but that of course somehow fits because the whole movie is so random and so f***ing arty, it can’t stand itself.
Then the film seems to decide it needs to make some kind of point after this self-indulgent bouillabaisse of symbolism and metaphorical cackhandedness, so it lays out the tale of this little family making its life (in what appears to be mid-century Waco) from embryology to gerontology with random, but more or less chronologically presented, scenes, the most interesting of which is one where the oldest boy, the apparent precursor to Sean, comes across Daddy Brad lying under a jacked-up automobile. The boy stands, looking at the jack, contemplating whether or not to dislodge it and subject his father to death-by-Oldsmobile. On the one hand, I can’t say I blame him much – his father does seem a rather brutal and domineering sort. On the other, this whole film brutalizes us with its heavy-handedness, so I lost my empathy with the whole clan somewhere near the beginning of the tale.
This is Hollywood at its most artistic and pretentious. Naturally, this piece of crap got nominated for about a million Academy Awards. There’s nothing that pleases the Los Angeles crowd more than a film that reminds the public they are, after all, ARTISTS, even if their ART is sentimental and pointless crap.
I did indeed keep watching, asking myself as Fred Savage did, “When’s it going to get GOOD?” Sadly, the answer is, “Never.”
It makes me wonder if the people who conceived of this film ever really lost anyone or if they only imagined what it would be like to lose someone and this movie is the result: a chance to sink themselves into an imaginary hell of depression and grief and wallow in it for awhile.
One of the reviews I read compared this film with another recently released, saying Tree of Life is the hopeful obverse of the other. Holy Moses on a cracker, if this film is hopeful, I’m damned glad I didn’t check out the other one or I’d be searching for a high tower to jump off of about now.
Sigh! Brad, Brad, Brad – whatever happened to Fight Club the Rematch?
I have gotten seriously into Ariana Franklin. I love this series. And — alas — I discover Ariana Franklin died last year and thus will produce no more books. AAAAACCKKKKK!
So I have been on the hunt for more historical fiction/mysteries I can enjoy as much as I enjoy Ariana Franklin. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, I am looking for other authors who can sincerely imitate Ariana Franklin because I enjoy her books so much.
I say “worth consuming” because it is better than wishy-washy, but I say it with a proviso: it is not a 100 percent endorsement. The action and pacing on this film are excellent. The story line could use some work. The film employs all the stereotypes Americans expect in the “lone-wolf takes on the world” genre of action film, but it is less successful in getting us to engage with the characters than similar films such as the Bourne trilogy, mainly because the stereotypes are SO stereotypical. Perhaps the director hoped that the action would carry the film. I just don’t buy a father suddenly deciding after years of neglecting and losing his family to give up a career in which he found his identity to move across the country and reconnect with his daughter. But we are asked to buy that. That he is so paranoid about security and safety that his hostile ex-wife ridicules him, yet his paranoia is the one thing that saves the day when his daughter is taken. That and some very big handguns. And a car crash or two. And gallons of spilled blood. Entertaining, but not exactly engaging emotionally.
Well, if you didn’t get a chance to develop a hankering for this, you’re too late. Wendy’s stopped selling it. Of course. Why not? Wendy’s and Jack-in-the-Box must have spies who follow me around. As soon as I decide I really like something, they stop selling it. Jack-in-the-Box did it with that salad that had chicken and the lime-cilantro dressing. And now Wendy’s has done it with Sweet & Spicy Asian Chicken.
Growing up in the south,where people not only ignore the elephant crapping in the family room, but will turn on and kill and filet anyone crass enough to even notice the elephant crapping — much less talk about it — I can totally get into this film. It is so exquisitely southern and an excellent illustration for anyone who ever did not understand the term “hoist on your own petard.” Glenn Close is brilliant, Patricia Ryan is scintillating — the whole cast is dead-on with a kind of understated deliciousness.
I actually found this series very intriguing. I watched all ten episodes and found the stories well thought-out and the characters compelling. I’m sorry it didn’t continue.
Colin Cotterill is my new best friend, authorically speaking. I love this series.