Friday, April 23, 2010

No Fly Zone Friday #4

Back on track for No Fly Zones after March's was spent with the family in lovely Atlanta.

Today's agenda was completely spontaneous. First an iPhone calendar alert reminded me to take in my old VHS tape of the "Bee Slippers" music video (made by my college band) for digitizing and eventual YouTubification. The deal is done. I'm paying way too much money. And the product should arrive in the first week of May. (Mid-life and nostalgia are a toxic combination.)

Next it was off to my office for a quick drop off. That left me strategically situated between the Twin Cities, so I opted for caffeination and the unique currant scones at Taraccino Coffee (Nordeast, across from Kramarczuk Deli) with a side of the New York Times. Did you know that the U.S. is exploring a conventional (non-nuclear) weapon that can strike any part of the globe in an hour? Did you know that Wall St. traders are pushing for the right to bet on Box Office futures? Did you know that Al Pacino is starring in an HBO biopic on Jack Kevorkian airing tomorrow night? Did you know that there are now ever-growing social media tools that enable you to post, among other things, everything you buy, and your decoded genome, and that basically the Digital Native population doesn't give a rip about privacy? It's all there in something called a "newspaper."

I was strategically positioned to take in the International Film Festival over at St. Anthony Main, but the earliest movie started too late. I opted instead to see "The Ghost Writer," a new Roman Polanski/Ewan McGregor/Pierce Brosnan vehicle that has largely flown under the radar. A brief review ...

The movie is essentially a political thriller in which one ghost writer replaces another (who apparently drowned in a suicide attempt) in drafting the memoirs of a controversial former British prime minister. It's a well-crafted affair that moves at a deliberate pace, strikes the right tone with its Cape Cod island setting, includes one of my favorite final scenes ever, and is definitely worth seeing, renting or streaming.

My only knocks are kind of picky. I hate it when movies are obviously based on real people and events, but use cheeky names to disguise them. Brosnan's character is obviously supposed to represent Tony Blair. His name is Adam Lang (not a bad effort, but trust me, the two-syllable/one-syllable similarity is no coincidence). When Lang is shown on CNN shaking hands with the Secretary of State, we see a Condoleezza Rice lookalike. Instead of "Halliburton," we get "Hatherton." Really?

The movie's other curiosity is its rather embarrassing attempt to move down from an R to a PG-13 rating. Little known fact, but if you want to write a PG-13 script, you get exactly one F-bomb. "The Ghost Writer" was written to be an R-rated movie, with maybe half a dozen effenheimers. But I noticed early on that they were being dubbed over ("Sod off!"). Sure enough, toward the end of the film, someone finally got to use the word unencumbered.

These nitpicks asides, "The Ghost Writer" is squarely in the classic thriller genre ... definitely too slow for the action movie crowd, but good fodder for those, like me, who are fans of the Hitchcock School of Suspense.

2 comments:

SINVILLE said...

Do you think the movie has flown under the radar because of the Polanski story? Publicity, in terms of abuse, is the kiss of death for any venture. I can't remember any appearances or the stars promoting the film. I love Hitchcock too and I can still feel mesmerized when you watch his movies today. I also still learn fascinating anecdotes: I just read about the Lifeboat cameo appearance. I agree to your point of couching the real characters resulting in a distraction. It releases me from the fantasy process, when viewing any film. I'd rather contemplate on characters/plot after I have seen the film. In fact, I always think a movie borders on genius when I find myself reflecting on its contents, after a few days. Your review makes me want to view the film but as a mother I don't want to support RP. Btw, brilliant sentence: "Mid-life and nostalgia are a toxic combination".

Tyler said...

In addition to creative work and drywall installation, I also digitize old VHS tapes.