Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Wicker Park vs. Shall We Dance

Today, I officially have to eat my own words. I’m not sure how to do that. Especially since I didn’t officially rip on the movie. You won’t recall me saying anything negative about Wicker Park. But I did, on more than one occasion and Stoker probably remembers all of those occasions, since he wanted to see it when it first came out, early in our dating days.

I remember one occasion in my beloved Logan, Graywhale cd store. It was there that I picked up the soundtrack to Wicker Park and cursed it for having an array of excellent indie and not so indie bands on it. Death Cab, Aqualung, Broken Social Scene and the likes. I was, to put it mildly, very pissed. My contention? That a sweet, kick ass soundtrack featuring beloved and obscure bands (greedily horded by pseudo-elitists like myself) does not make a crap movie better. It soils the name of those bands willing to sell their precious music.

But, I guess the bands need to support themselves. And even if some stupid movie with aspirations to be really great (for example A Home at the End of the World*) features classic songs—Yaz’s “Only You” or Patti Smith’s “Because the Night”—doesn’t necessarily detract from the quality of the song. However, it does affect how a person hears the song. Once the song is associated with crap, a listener will always be able to, or even be forced to, recall the crap it was married to once upon an embarrassing time.

I’m just saying. There’s a price to be paid for associating your song with a movie. It’s a risk. If it’s a good movie or one that gains cult status, your song, like Kenny Roger’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” is reborn to a new generation. And the song will be remembered fondly as an appropriate accompaniment to the moment when Dude was flying over the city at night, bowling ball in hand. Man, that was great.

I guess most artists are willing to risk it.

Anyway, Wicker Park wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be**. In fact, it was pretty damn good. Especially since Stoker and I tried to watch Shall We Dance with Richard Gere and J-Lo a few nights ago. Why? We were drunk. No, just joking. I don’t know why. We were tired from our four-hour trek around the SLC outdoor mall and it was there, accessible (it belongs to my aunt, who lives next door). We didn’t get very far into the show before I couldn’t take the crappy acting any longer. Poor Stanley Tucci (Big Night = ****, that's four stars, btw). I really like him. It was too much to watch him making a fool of himself in one of the worst movies ever. Contrast that horrible piece of crap with the intriguing, nicely filmed Wicker Park.

Wicker Park=

– excellent love story: true love triumphs in the end. Similar theme as The Princess Bride. Let’s hear it for true love. (Not recommended for bitter, jaded, sad jerks who hate true love.) Right now, I love true love because I have it. But I understand hating true love.
– interesting cinematographic techniques. Plus, there’s that whole cool blue-lens thing going on (not the technical term for it). I love that, how it colors everything with a blue tinge.
– Josh Hartnett actually behaves like a person who’s lost someone they loved and his character does believable things, like sneaking into his former girlfriend’s house. My statements may seem tongue-in-cheek, but they’re not. Also, the culminating moment between the evil, sneaky girl and Josh Hartnett is a realistic portrayal of how real people behave (as opposed to Jerry Springer people). It’s not one of those over-the-top dramatic moments with people throwing wine in each other’s faces and smacking one another like the Stooges.
– Stoker compared him to that annoying moron-guy in Napoleon Dynamite (what’s his name? Don?), but I thought he did a good job (and I usually don’t like this guy), but the supporting male actor, Matthew Lillard, wasn’t so bad. His character also behaved in believable ways.

Anyway, most of the stuff I just said was based on what other people did, like the screen-writer, director, and cinematographer. But maybe they didn’t integrate those key-players in the making of Shall We Dance.

*And no, I haven’t seen this lame movie. And yes, I’m making the same (perhaps) mistake as I made with Wicker Park. But I’ll be willing to eat my words (again) if someone wants to challenge me. I’ll watch it, in the end, and if it turns out to be great, I’ll relent and repent. If it turns out to be (as I suspected), crap, I’ll laugh and say, “Shame on you Patti and Yaz. I expected this from Duncan. But really, Patti. Patti.”

**Important note: not all my fault. Note the dvd cover of Wicker Park. Note the trailer for Wicker Park. Notice how the movie was advertised as a sex scandal? I’m not into sex scandals or Harlequin romances. So I didn’t want to see it. Originally. Anyway, the movie is much more than that and actually has an intriguing plot. Stupid advertisements that drive audiences away instead of pulling them in.

1 comment:

liz said...

Big Night. Such a great movie. When I first saw it, I thought it was hilarious. A true, funny, awesome comedy. Then, when I was first dating my now husband, I rented it for him. Played it up as HILARIOUS. And it's actually quite a dark comedy, and he was depressed by the end of it.