dangermousie: (Cat by maddeinin)
I went and finally saw Ask the Dust, a movie I've been wanting to see for a while. It's got decidedly mixed reviews, but I loved it. It's no masterpiece of the century, but it's romantic, well-acted, and (most importantly) angsty. Oh, and you get to see both Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell buck naked, if that's your thing (I plead the 5th).

The story is set in 1930s LA, where an aspiring young writer (Colin Farrell) is trying to write the ubiquitous Great American Novel. The novel isn't really coming, he is broke, and to top it off (or to start it), he is of Italian descent and his name is Arturo Bandini, which is a liability and a source of shame in the racist America of the time (it's a running theme that he is mistaken for a Mexican, in an era where signs regularly said 'no Mexicans allowed'). One day, he walks into a bar and spends his last nickel on a cup of coffee. This cup is served by a Mexican waitress, Camilla Lopez (Salma), who is as self-hating about her identity and as angry at the world as he is. And the story goes on from there...I won't give any spoilers because I went in cold, with knowing very little of it, and had enormous fun following the story this way.

While AtD tries to be a number of things: a story dealing with race and belonging (the movie's characters are all outsiders in one way or another: through their ethnicities, illnesses, scars, eccentricities or what not), a character study, even a bit of noir in its language use, ultimately it's not really any of these. It is, at its base, a love story, and a love story of a kind which, if you replaced race with something like class, could (and had been) made so well in the era the movie itself is set in. There is even a plot element which made me sigh in satisfaction because it was precisely like meeting an old friend, making this even more like those MGM starrers. Make Camilla a working-class girl (or a vagrant) or a European immigrant, and this movie would play starring Tyrone Power and Ingrid Bergman, and George Cucor would direct. Whether you find this really cool or not depends on what you think of movies like those old classics. I love them, so I loved this, especially since it does have a sharpness of language, the issue of race, and yes, the nudity (which doesn't feel gratuitous) to make it seem fresh all over again.

And the other thing I loved a lot was the acting. The movie is all about Camilla and Arturo, and their interactions with each other and the world, and basically Hayek and Farrell make or break the movie. And they make it. Not only do they have gobs of chemistry, this is the first time I've ever found Colin Farrell attractive. But he is, here. In the 30s clothes and haircut, he is actually gorgeous, and he looks like a movie star of the time. Unlike a lot of actors in period flicks (or himself in Alexander), he just fits into the period, as if he really could be another heartthrob at MGM or RKO or Fox. And, also surprisingly, he actually acts quite well. I generally find his acting hit and miss, but he manages to portray not just Arturo's nastier side, but also both vulnerability and a certain degree of inexperience with the world which, seeing that it's Colin Farrell, is quite impressive. I really don't need to go into praise of Salma Hayek's acting or looks (she is prickly and wounded and irresistable), because I've always loved her, and boy, she is one of the few women I'd switch sexual orientation for. In fact, both of the leads act so well, that you end up wishing the script was different. More complex, better. This is a good, literate, well-written love story. But it makes you imagine what kind of movie it could have been if it had an amazing script, another L.A. Confidential or Sunset Boulevard or whatever.

So go see. It's gooooood.

The funniest thing was a bunch of 19 year olds behind me, who must have been hard-core CF fans, because every time he did anything nice or angsty, they would sigh and go "awwwwwww" collectively. It certainly added an extra 1930s touch to the movie.
dangermousie: (Cat by maddeinin)
I went and finally saw Ask the Dust, a movie I've been wanting to see for a while. It's got decidedly mixed reviews, but I loved it. It's no masterpiece of the century, but it's romantic, well-acted, and (most importantly) angsty. Oh, and you get to see both Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell buck naked, if that's your thing (I plead the 5th).

The story is set in 1930s LA, where an aspiring young writer (Colin Farrell) is trying to write the ubiquitous Great American Novel. The novel isn't really coming, he is broke, and to top it off (or to start it), he is of Italian descent and his name is Arturo Bandini, which is a liability and a source of shame in the racist America of the time (it's a running theme that he is mistaken for a Mexican, in an era where signs regularly said 'no Mexicans allowed'). One day, he walks into a bar and spends his last nickel on a cup of coffee. This cup is served by a Mexican waitress, Camilla Lopez (Salma), who is as self-hating about her identity and as angry at the world as he is. And the story goes on from there...I won't give any spoilers because I went in cold, with knowing very little of it, and had enormous fun following the story this way.

While AtD tries to be a number of things: a story dealing with race and belonging (the movie's characters are all outsiders in one way or another: through their ethnicities, illnesses, scars, eccentricities or what not), a character study, even a bit of noir in its language use, ultimately it's not really any of these. It is, at its base, a love story, and a love story of a kind which, if you replaced race with something like class, could (and had been) made so well in the era the movie itself is set in. There is even a plot element which made me sigh in satisfaction because it was precisely like meeting an old friend, making this even more like those MGM starrers. Make Camilla a working-class girl (or a vagrant) or a European immigrant, and this movie would play starring Tyrone Power and Ingrid Bergman, and George Cucor would direct. Whether you find this really cool or not depends on what you think of movies like those old classics. I love them, so I loved this, especially since it does have a sharpness of language, the issue of race, and yes, the nudity (which doesn't feel gratuitous) to make it seem fresh all over again.

And the other thing I loved a lot was the acting. The movie is all about Camilla and Arturo, and their interactions with each other and the world, and basically Hayek and Farrell make or break the movie. And they make it. Not only do they have gobs of chemistry, this is the first time I've ever found Colin Farrell attractive. But he is, here. In the 30s clothes and haircut, he is actually gorgeous, and he looks like a movie star of the time. Unlike a lot of actors in period flicks (or himself in Alexander), he just fits into the period, as if he really could be another heartthrob at MGM or RKO or Fox. And, also surprisingly, he actually acts quite well. I generally find his acting hit and miss, but he manages to portray not just Arturo's nastier side, but also both vulnerability and a certain degree of inexperience with the world which, seeing that it's Colin Farrell, is quite impressive. I really don't need to go into praise of Salma Hayek's acting or looks (she is prickly and wounded and irresistable), because I've always loved her, and boy, she is one of the few women I'd switch sexual orientation for. In fact, both of the leads act so well, that you end up wishing the script was different. More complex, better. This is a good, literate, well-written love story. But it makes you imagine what kind of movie it could have been if it had an amazing script, another L.A. Confidential or Sunset Boulevard or whatever.

So go see. It's gooooood.

The funniest thing was a bunch of 19 year olds behind me, who must have been hard-core CF fans, because every time he did anything nice or angsty, they would sigh and go "awwwwwww" collectively. It certainly added an extra 1930s touch to the movie.
dangermousie: (Cat by maddeinin)
I went and finally saw Ask the Dust, a movie I've been wanting to see for a while. It's got decidedly mixed reviews, but I loved it. It's no masterpiece of the century, but it's romantic, well-acted, and (most importantly) angsty. Oh, and you get to see both Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell buck naked, if that's your thing (I plead the 5th).

The story is set in 1930s LA, where an aspiring young writer (Colin Farrell) is trying to write the ubiquitous Great American Novel. The novel isn't really coming, he is broke, and to top it off (or to start it), he is of Italian descent and his name is Arturo Bandini, which is a liability and a source of shame in the racist America of the time (it's a running theme that he is mistaken for a Mexican, in an era where signs regularly said 'no Mexicans allowed'). One day, he walks into a bar and spends his last nickel on a cup of coffee. This cup is served by a Mexican waitress, Camilla Lopez (Salma), who is as self-hating about her identity and as angry at the world as he is. And the story goes on from there...I won't give any spoilers because I went in cold, with knowing very little of it, and had enormous fun following the story this way.

While AtD tries to be a number of things: a story dealing with race and belonging (the movie's characters are all outsiders in one way or another: through their ethnicities, illnesses, scars, eccentricities or what not), a character study, even a bit of noir in its language use, ultimately it's not really any of these. It is, at its base, a love story, and a love story of a kind which, if you replaced race with something like class, could (and had been) made so well in the era the movie itself is set in. There is even a plot element which made me sigh in satisfaction because it was precisely like meeting an old friend, making this even more like those MGM starrers. Make Camilla a working-class girl (or a vagrant) or a European immigrant, and this movie would play starring Tyrone Power and Ingrid Bergman, and George Cucor would direct. Whether you find this really cool or not depends on what you think of movies like those old classics. I love them, so I loved this, especially since it does have a sharpness of language, the issue of race, and yes, the nudity (which doesn't feel gratuitous) to make it seem fresh all over again.

And the other thing I loved a lot was the acting. The movie is all about Camilla and Arturo, and their interactions with each other and the world, and basically Hayek and Farrell make or break the movie. And they make it. Not only do they have gobs of chemistry, this is the first time I've ever found Colin Farrell attractive. But he is, here. In the 30s clothes and haircut, he is actually gorgeous, and he looks like a movie star of the time. Unlike a lot of actors in period flicks (or himself in Alexander), he just fits into the period, as if he really could be another heartthrob at MGM or RKO or Fox. And, also surprisingly, he actually acts quite well. I generally find his acting hit and miss, but he manages to portray not just Arturo's nastier side, but also both vulnerability and a certain degree of inexperience with the world which, seeing that it's Colin Farrell, is quite impressive. I really don't need to go into praise of Salma Hayek's acting or looks (she is prickly and wounded and irresistable), because I've always loved her, and boy, she is one of the few women I'd switch sexual orientation for. In fact, both of the leads act so well, that you end up wishing the script was different. More complex, better. This is a good, literate, well-written love story. But it makes you imagine what kind of movie it could have been if it had an amazing script, another L.A. Confidential or Sunset Boulevard or whatever.

So go see. It's gooooood.

The funniest thing was a bunch of 19 year olds behind me, who must have been hard-core CF fans, because every time he did anything nice or angsty, they would sigh and go "awwwwwww" collectively. It certainly added an extra 1930s touch to the movie.

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November 2012

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