Friday, December 27, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Sixty-one - The Shipping News, "Magical Realism... in Newfoundland?"

Even when he makes bad movies (like, say, Father of Invention), I'm willing to give him the benefit of his years, cause he's made tremendous films, played tremendous characters... and he's sort of doing that here.

For the first thirty or so years of his life, Spacey's character Quoyle didn't do much at all, living a failed life and being a disappointment to his abusive father. Then Cate Blanchett comes along. She's a free spirit (or manipulative whore) who works her way into his life, has a daughter with him, and abandons them both.

To recover, Quoyle and his daughter Bunny go with their long lost aunt Agnis (Judi Dench) to their homeland, Newfoundland, where Quoyle sort of falls into a job as a writer at the local newspaper. Oh, let's not forget that Julianne Moore is there as well, tempting Quoyle with a real romance/friendship. And Scott Glenn and Peter Postlethwaite and Rhys Ifans.

Running in the background is a story of the almost magical things that happen to and around the people of town. Bunny is a bit psychic, Scott Glenn is a little immortal, there's a curse, and flashbacks, and thin ghosts, oh my. The house moans and that's important, from a metaphorical standpoint, and it makes for emotive filmmaking. All of it does, really... and while I enjoy it, I can't exactly say it's great.

It's all the little tricks, I think. The small, spiteful things along with all of the tiny, beautiful ones. It feels human, it feels familiar, but it also feels artificial. I do like Lasse Hallström's filmography, but he's always this way. Nothing ever feels natural in his pictures, there's always this gremlin sitting on your shoulder when you watch them telling you it's all real when it's clear to see that in never is, no matter how poetic or quaint or funny is, my suspension of disbelief is always shaky.

Still, despite that fact, I find it a much more enjoyable watch than most movies available on the Instant Stream. Watching Judi Dench piss on her brother's ashes is a delight and seeing Quoyle develop as a writer, no matter how artificial, is still like seeing my own wish fulfilled. I'd expound on that, but really not in the mood for tears.

It's shaky, this film... and I wouldn't give it the Oscar, but I'd probably be pretty close to giving it a nomination.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~


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