Appreciating the Downside
This is a post of two movies. One movie rooted in confusion and not very interesting fantasy and the other rooted in filthy squalor along side waves of metallic shine less than five miles from my home. Both movies star hunky men whom I admit I find attractive. Admittedly, the two more attractive in the mess of a movie Wolverine. The other two attractive stars starring in a movie I think captures my home city in a way that no other has in many a year, The Soloist.
Let's start with the fantasy, mostly because I fantasize that one day I'll meet Hugh Jackman, he'll fall instantly in love with me and I'll become Mrs. Jackman (no offense to the current Mrs. Jackman meant). Well, maybe that's not exactly how my particular fantasy goes, but it'll do for now; I'm sure little eyes are prying. Okay, Wolverine. Where do I start? By now, you've got the picture that I love Hugh Jackman; adore him; think he's hot; think he's supremely talented; loved his Oscar hosting abilities... I love me some Hugh Jackman. I love him enough to say that this movie has got to be the absolute worst I've seen in years.
Now that's tough love.
The official title is X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The problem is that the origins are never explained. Even comic books have rules; they have back stories - why did such & such become whatever???? Right? Wolverine's mutant origins are far from clear; he just has them one day. The movie starts when he and his brother are young boys, but they stop aging when, what 35? Why? No explanation for this is given. They hop from war to war, wearing the same hairstyles - even when in the armies for the Civil War, WWI, WWII & Vietnam? Dude, it's hot there, why would you want longish hair or a beard? And get this - what I've just relayed all happens during the opening credits. As you can tell, by this time, I was really looking forward to the actual movie.
I would tell you the story, but there wasn't one. Something about a special band of mutants - I'm not into comic books, so there might have been some characters that I should have known, but didn't. I can say that Ryan Reynolds is underused in this sequence. He has a few lines to clue us to his identity at the end as the super dooper X dude or something (I know it's some other Marvel character - but by that time, I really didn't care to listen). These dudes go into do a job to find something that the villain (Col. Stryker) wants and it's clear that Wolverine's bro, likes to get his gun off. Why Wolfy didn't figure this out in the preceding 100 years he's spent IN WAR with the boob is beyond me. He's had enough; he won't kill just cause commanding officer says so.
He leaves, falls in love, girl dies, he emotes. Oh, gawd, I don't know why I'm telling you this non-sensical plot. Because even though there's a sequence of events, a plot they do not make.
Suffice to say Origins sucks, kinda like in the Star Wars first episode movies were far inferior to the original ones that told of later escapades. The X-Men franchise really is one that had a very good track record. With this movie, I think they've damaged that meme. A smart movie with a good director could have delivered a returning fan for movies to come. Alas, that is not to be for me any longer. They can continue the struggle without me.
As for Hugh. Call me. Or Tweet. I'll be looking out for ya.
Now, The Soloist, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, is a gem of a movie. Neither of these very virile and handsome men are at their appearance best here - quite on purpose. RDJ plays my favorite LA columnist, Steve Lopez or SLo, as he called himself in a series of columns about JLo a few years back. He's funny, smart, sarcastic and a joy to read. He's one of the reasons I continue to subscribe to the LA Times, besides the fact that reading my daily paper makes me feel smart and informed - but that's another blog post. Jamie Foxx plays Nathaniel Ayers, a mentally ill homeless man, with a love and talent for music living at Pershing Square, five blocks from the gorgeous Disney Hall, the home of the LA Phil (go Esa-Pekka!).
The movie tells the story of how they meet; SLo sees columns and Mr. Ayers sees, well, who knows? I, like many other Angelenos, read the original columns when they were published, so I felt like I knew the players here. I remembered large details, like how Mr. Ayers had a special stick to beat back the rats when he slept on the street, that the movie left out. I was disappointed, but understood the filmmakers had their reasons. Just like they had their reason to show LA in it's beauty, the backdrop of the Disney Hall is breathtaking, as well as to show it's squalor - like depicting the people, including families, who live(d) in the porta potties, on Skid Row to have just a little shelter for the night. SLo, in his columns, wrote about that too, he wrote columns about the other denizens of Skid Row, that the movie does not really touch upon, but rather, depicts a vague essence of their plight. It gives us a few moments to reflect upon those less fortunate than ourselves; those without eyes or health or beauty or faculties. It gives us just a moment's dose of reality. How they live; that they find a way to live in filth, violence, degradation and humiliation; they live. They smile and stop when music, beautiful music is played. They can appreciate talent. They do appreciate humanity when given the chance.
Now that I write this and reflect upon the film, the message, the story, I am humbled. I didn't realize that it touched me so. I told everyone that The Soloist showed my Los Angeles, the ole we don't get to see on the big screen often, even though we see the backdrop of LA all the time. And while others may be embarrassed by our homeless problem (and it is a problem) being unfurled for the world to see, I am proud. For I see people. Alive people.
- ▼ 2009 (30)
- ► 2008 (69)