I owe a film update, because I’ve seen new-to-me movies both good and mediocre over the past week and a half, and now, counting video, I’m up to 50 new films for the year, most of which are updated on my Web site. I’ll do theater first. I saw #37 Lords of Dogtown earlier this week. It was… OK. I ended up caring about the characters even though the movie never seemed to know what story it was telling. It wanted to be a documentary at the same time that it wanted to be a cool subculture story. What’s really fascinating to me about the whole thing is that it’s a fictionalized version of reality — the screenplay was written by one of the guys who is a “character” in the movie (Stacy Peralta). I think he managed not to fall into that common autobiographical trap of over-sweetening himself (though he does come off as the sweetest of the three main characters), but… again, I have a hang-up about movies that can’t manage the balance between truth and good storytelling. This one gets close, but doesn’t quite make it. Heath Ledger, though, was pretty cool, even though his role wasn’t huge.
Next, I saw #38 Layer Cake Thursday night at Liberty Hall. Thanks to slightly bad sound and really thick accents, I can say that I didn’t understand about 10 percent of what was said in this movie, but I can also say I completely didn’t care, because Daniel Craig? Whoa. Hot. Let me quote the New York Times on this subject: ” Mr. Craig smolders nicely and, as it also happens, he looks good slipping out of his shirt, which he does in the entertaining gangster flick ‘Layer Cake.’ It’s a measure of Mr. Craig’s allure that when he takes it off, he easily upstages the young actress Sienna Miller, a new It Girl who barely registers on-screen despite wearing little more than lacey filaments that make her look like a gift meant to be unwrapped very quickly.” In New York Times-speak, that’s like drooling. And it’s such well-deserved drool. Basically, it’s a smallish actiony flick about a drug dealer who wants to get out and then gets his life complicated. Nicely done, and Colm Meaney was also pretty cool, but at the end I was still left with a feeling of, “What? Why?” Not just “why did that happen?” but also “What was the point of this movie?” I’m not sure there was one, beyond entertainment and the hotness of Daniel Craig.
Finally, tonight, because it was stormy and I needed a place to be away from that, I went to see #39The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I can’t explain why I went, except apparently I needed a dose of Young-Adult Lit-Movie into my life. Anyway, it was predictable and often cliche — the audience, which was wholly composed of girls younger than me (no, really, it was a small crowd, I can say that with confidence), actually laughed in several places at the dramatic moments. Poor Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”) did her best, but her character’s arc (the girl who goes to Greece for the summer and encounters unexpected love) was just the weakest and dreariest. There were four storylines here, which I can summarize as Girl at Soccer Camp, Girl in Greece, Girl with Dad, and Girl at Home. Without giving away too much, the two storylines that were just killers were Girl with About-to-be-married-Dad and Girl at Home. I wept like a little child. It was like I knew I was being played, by the movie, and I cried a river anyway. There were some sharp echoes of the mother-daughter problems from Spanglish in the girl-dad story (the dad is played by Bradley Whitford). Sobbed and sobbed. Everyone did. People were sobbing to the point of making little moaning noises.
And I’ll update on video some other time, because I’m tired and it’s thundering (it’s always freaking thundering, though, isn’t it?) and it’s time to go to bed.