Saturday 30 October 2010

And Ham!

Saturday 30 October

A ham is a performer who overacts or exaggerates.

Michael O’Sullivan is not a ham, as far as I know, and I didn’t meet him in a church.

By the way, I went to church last Sunday.

I had heard that the Lord’s magnanimous will to forgive was unceasing and I needed to test it.


As the earth beneath my feet shifted, I found myself thinking about Woody Allen’s latest film – A Tall dark Stranger.


God knows why - I’ll ask next time –but the possibility exists that it is a better film than I suspected when I first wrote about it 11 days ago.

So went to see it – again.

No ham here either, only good solid acting.

Though my wife didn’t like the female lead – “too drama school”

I thought she was pretty.

Krissie is the best person to watch a film with. Not only because she usually has chocolate in her pocket but also because if a film is funny - and secretly we all hope a Woody Allen film will be - she is certain to find it and lets everyone know.

She did.

I’m not sure Michael O’Sullivan did.

Mr O is a writer, I think, and reviewed the film in a (possibly) recent article published by the Washington Post, reprinted in The Guardian Weekly – a newspaper that I buy after church on Sunday’s, leave on the sideboard until someone moves it, I can’t find it and I waste hours online trying to find a link to it.

His review runs for about 520 words – though to be honest I didn’t count all of them. To be honest I didn’t go to church last Sunday either but I counted the words in the first two lines, averaged and multiplied by the number of lines in the article.

Of the 520 words he wrote a maximum of 40 contribute opinion, the rest is descriptive.

Descriptive to the point of - what’s the point of going to see the film?

I don’t know, call me a ham if you relish, but surely a review should tell you more than the Wikipedia site can? And surely there is a duty to hold something back for the viewer to discover themselves, at the story teller’s pace, in the darkened light of the cinema?

Mr O even makes the cardinal sin, in my church anyway, of saying in the first paragraph that there are no laughs, and then in the third giving away the best joke in the film.

At least he had the inconsistency to describe it as a great crack.


It is in fact the hilarious punch line of a small comic scene that, although very black, is a masterpiece of comedy.

Ok, ok, maybe as a masterpiece it is the only one in the film, among a few chuckles and several guffaws – but how many of us can lay claim to producing the occasional comic masterpiece?

One of the qualities of this film is the understated mastery. It is never arrogant, and seems so effortless that it is easy to miss the diligent craft that underlies it.

It is a farce, it would read well as a book and the fact that it is film is perhaps more a criticism of film as a medium than the filmmaker who made it. Like a good book there are layers within layers; the ideas resurface as thoughts days later, (11 in my case) and there are a few things worth discussing at the end of the day – like morality, faithfulness, illusion and reality.

Yes I can be critical too, I stumbled across one of the opening scenes in Allen’s film Manhattan a few days ago and was surprised to see a sub-plot and characterisation that was exactly the same as in A Tall Dark Stranger – then again I think it was Stephen King who said that basically he has written the same book over and over.

The review in the Washington Posts concludes with –“ending his film with an abruptness that will leave many unsatisfied.”

This was my initial reaction the first time I saw it.

The second time I was just left with a feeling that I am looking forward to the next one.


Mary said...

Went to see the Woody Allen film in question today. I enjoyed it. He is always thought provoking. Solid acting -- especially liked Anthony Hopkins and Gemma Jones. His themes have become darker and darker since Crimes and Misdemeanors -- it's all illusion, delusion, and treachery.

Am still hoping to get out this week to see Never let me go and Tamara Drewe.


popps said...

Krissie had a theory about the choice of song at the beginning and end - When you wish upon a star - only the mum (who goes to the psychic) gets what she wants, and she is wishing on a star.
Could be?

MARY said...

Could be -- The mum was a child-like believer as was the owner of the occult book store. Still, even in their innocence their belief in seances and phony psyhics seems to say that illusion is preferable... but to what?

Not sure the story was entirely successfully told. Also did not think that the use of the narrator added much. Still I could have watched it for another hour.


popps said...

Well. i think the narrator should have been MR Allen - as for the illusion - better than reality was the message no?