June 12, 2010

Saw the movie "Changeling" last night but I don't like to write movie reviews...

... so let me do what I did for the last Clint Eastwood movie I saw and challenge myself to write a list of 10 things. Here goes:

1. There were several points in this movie where, if I didn't know it was a true story, I would have turned it off. It's incredibly melodramatic. But if it's true, it's not incredible. It's credible.

2. I loathe movies about children in danger, both because I don't enjoy seeing children suffer and because I don't want to watch an actress ham it up pretending to be a mother who is agonizing over her suffering child. But I shielded myself from knowing what the story was going to be because I was told — by my son Chris — that the movie contained the greatest acting performance of the last decade and once I decide I will see a movie, I avoid reading anything about the plot.

3. I'd never seen an Angelina Jolie movie before. Looking at the list of movies she's made, I can see why. Although she seems like the biggest movie star in the world, she hasn't made many movies, and they aren't very good. She's done genres that I don't much follow (anymore). For example, she did one of the voices in "Kung Fu Panda." When I think of "Kung Fu Panda," I think of the Joshua Ferris short story "The Dinner Party":
“They just got their dates wrong, is all,” he said, “and tomorrow, when they call, they’ll tell you how sorry they are. They had to turn their phones off during the late showing of ‘Kung Fu Panda’ or something.”

“So they went to see ‘Kung Fu Panda’ tonight,” she said.

“Or something like it.”

“And they turned their phones off so they wouldn’t ring during ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ ”

“Or,” he said. “Or.” He put his finger up. They were standing near the bedroom doorway. There was dim light coming from the dark room and he was suddenly irrationally afraid, as he had been as a child, that if anyone stepped inside, if she stepped inside, she would plummet to the center of the earth. He lowered his finger. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t think they went to see ‘Kung Fu Panda.’ ”
One wouldn't see "Kung Fu Panda."

4. Jolie emotes. That's for sure. It's what's called for and she does it. She goes all out and does it. She's the female Jack Nicholson. And this movie has a good dose of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in it. Now, take your medication. Or we'll give you an electroshock treatment. "Changeling" also made me think about another great Jack Nicholson movie, "Chinatown." Lots of L.A., lots of corruption.

5. Did Jolie out-act Kate Winslet? Winslet won the Oscar that year — for "The Reader." "The Reader" is also a melodrama, but it presents itself in less of a melodramatic style. Although "The Reader" is set in the Holocaust, the character is fictional, and her story is presented in a more dignified Oscar-worthy vehicle.

6. Quite oddly, there is a scene in "Changeling" in which the main character is listening to the Oscars presentation on the radio and rooting for her favorite movie to win. The movie is "It Happened One Night," and Jolie's character expresses her fondness for Claudette Colbert, who won an Oscar for her role. "It Happened One Night" swept the top 5 categories at the Oscars, and it wasn't until "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" that another movie swept the Oscars. I wondered what Clint Eastwood thought he was saying to the Academy by putting that Oscars scene in "Changeling." I don't think he was kissing their ass trying to get Oscars. Maybe it was a way to say Oscars are amusement for the people and they don't really matter to me anymore. But it would be pretty funny for Jolie to win an Oscar for a role where we'd have a clip of her in character getting excited about an Oscar win. It would be cute. Maybe she got some votes from Academy members who liked that.

7. Like "The Reader," "Changeling" has a scene that depicts
a hanging and uses a closeup of the hanged person's dangling feet — or is it just the shoes on the floor in "The Reader"? I forget.
(Mouse over Highlight to reveal spoiler.)(I think that's the first time I've used HTML that way.)

8. If you like red lipstick, this is the ultimate red lipstick movie. You've got, first of all, Angelina Jolie's famous, immense lips, and then you've got red red lipstick — of the historically accurate matte texture. And it looks like it was put on amateurishly by the character.

9. You like cloche hats? You will see cloche hats. Angelina Jolie's character seems to require a cloche hat — and gloves. (I couldn't figure out how she avoided getting red lipstick all over her gloves.) This is the ultimate cloche hat movie. What does the cloche hat mean? It speaks of the character's vulnerability and need for armor, which makes it
especially painful for us to see her without its protection when she's thrown into the psycho hospital.

10. What's with Angelina Jolie's hands?

11. Jolie calls Clint Eastwood "very much the ideal man":
Maybe it's generational, but I think we could use more of it. People look up to him. He is absolutely who he is. He doesn't apologize to anybody. He has very, very strong, decisive opinions and is very gracious as a man, as a friend and somebody on set as a director, too.
She tags on the wifely niceness — "Brad knows that he's my ideal man" — but, reading that, I hear the emphasis on "my." Brad may be her ideal man, but Eastwood is the ideal man.

Oh! I went to 11. I thought it would be hard to get to 10. Ha. I guess I enjoyed that movie. Maybe I'll watch it again with somebody who hasn't seen it before. Back in the 80s, we used to love showing "The Terminator" to people who hadn't seen it yet. All the surprises would be new again. Last week, I was flipping channels and came to rest on "From Dusk to Dawn," which had just started. I'd seen it before, but Meade hadn't. Great vicarious fun for me.

43 comments:

H. Gillham said...

Ugh.

Angelina Jolie.

But, I know others like her.

I can't watch movies about children in danger, domestic or animal abuse, or sexual psychopaths.

Keeps me out of Hollywood.

Might be a good thing.

Big Mike said...

The mouse over didn't work for me. Anybody else have that problem?

Fred4Pres said...

Angie Jolie is overrated. Got it.

I saw Karate Kid. Actually very good, for what it is. Jackie Chan can act as well, or better, than Jolie.

Big Mike said...

Last week, I was flipping channels and came to rest on "From Dusk to Dawn," which had just started. I'd seen it before, but Meade hadn't. Great vicarious fun for me.

You want to dance on tables and turn into a vampire?

Ann Althouse said...

Click while mousing over.

Ann Althouse said...

"You want to dance on tables and turn into a vampire?"

I wanted to watch that movie and not know that was going to happen.

Ann Althouse said...

Just as I would like to watch "The Terminator" and not know that Schwarzenegger would "be back," etc. etc.

GMay said...

The Althouse scale goes to eleven.

Trooper York said...

Just don't show Meade any porn.

You might get indicted.

Big Mike said...

Okay, that worked. Thanks, Professor.

Oh, and on that second comment. I did get it, but I couldn't resist being facetious this morning.

William T. Sherman said...

"The Changeling" was made from an original screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski. Clint Eastwood didn't put that Academy Award scene in the film, Straczynski did.

Ann, you make several references here to how Eastwood created "The Changeling". He didn't. Please remember that everything starts with the screen writer (especially on an original screenplay).

edutcher said...

You're being too analytical. A conlawprof thing, I suppose. A movie is a movie, you just watch.

And hopefully enjoy. Not a whole lot of mise en scene in 'Rio Bravo', but when the band in the saloon starts playing the Deguello and Dino stuffs the cork back in the bottle saying, "I forgot how we got into this...", and the Duke just leans back and smiles, knowing he's saved his friend...

They don't make 'em like that no more.

Trooper York said...

Just don't show Meade any porn.

You might get indicted.


Or elected.

PS There was an hilarious review of 'Tomb Raider' in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in which the critic did the whole piece from the point of view of Ms. Jolie's breasts.

Lem said...

On the DVD extras I believe Angelina said Eastwood was the best director shes ever worked with and would love to work with again.

My only critique is the beginning (b4 she lost the kid) was long and slow. Later the movie seemed rushed because they had to get the rest of the story in.

PatCA said...

Jolie was amazing in an early role as George Wallace's young wife in a TV mininseries. Good in Girl Interrupted. Her other sci-fi things don't interest me.

I thought Changeling (Cops are Bad!) was okay, but what was the great acting performance??

Ann Althouse said...

William T. Sherman said...""The Changeling" was made from an original screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski. Clint Eastwood didn't put that Academy Award scene in the film, Straczynski did. Ann, you make several references here to how Eastwood created "The Changeling". He didn't. Please remember that everything starts with the screen writer (especially on an original screenplay)."

I realize he didn't write the screenplay, but I think he has authority over the movie in the end and scenes are changed. Having Oscar content in a movie that might win Oscars is a weird thing that had to be intentional (as a final call) on Eastwood's part.

Also "everything" didn't start with the screenplay. It was a true story.


edutcher said... "You're being too analytical. A conlawprof thing, I suppose. A movie is a movie, you just watch."

By you, you mean me? Speak for yourself. Use correct pronouns. I'll do whatever I want.

"And hopefully enjoy."

You suggest that it isn't enjoyable to be analytical. Speak for yourself. I enjoy it. I enjoy blogging. Do you think I do this as a chore? I have more fun writing about a movie than watching it.

Sheepman said...

Here's the explaination for why Kate got the Oscat instead of Angelina.

EDH said...

I think Eastwood is a better actor than director.

My criticism of his directing is not on the technical side, but on the character development side.

Intentionally or not, I find many of Eastwood's characters lack subtlety, often exaggerated to the point that they consciously interfere with the suspension of disbelief that I need to immerse myself in a film.

“Why Clint, why?” I find myself asking at certain points. “Don’t you know people are more complex, even if they are in ancillary roles?”

Too many of his movie characters seem presented as unambiguous symbols to the point of being one-dimensional props. Character symbolism like that works in a spaghetti western, police drama or cliff hanger, but not in the more subtle stuff, which he’s trying to do lately.

For example, in Gran Torino, the grand kids. Did Clint really have to depict their disrespect for their grandmother at her funeral to such unbelievable lengths? I would have preferred Walt K get upset at less flagrant displays. And the whole bit about his grand daughter asking “what are you going to do with that couch, you know, when you die. I’m away at school next semester…”

That’s just one example that came to mind. Going back, I just remember repeatedly seeing characters in his movies that take me out of the story to ask, “Why Clint, why?”

Richard said...

Maybe the mouse over doesn't work with Firefox (?)

Lem said...

@EDH.. Eastwood is not the only one.. I think they are trying to convey the character, the story to a mass audience.

There is a reason why A Room with a View was not a box office smash, and a 'cult classic' instead.

Hollywood makes movies mostly for people with Aspergers symptoms ;)

T J Sawyer said...

"Mouse Over" displays a gray bar on my Firefox. Click reveals one word or punctuation mark at a time.

Explorer shows the comment totally revealed.

How about a thread on HTML and standards versus randomly developed software like the WWW?

american girl in italy said...

She has made some bad movies, but I've liked the movies I have seen of hers:

Gia, Bone Collector, girl, Interrupted, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Good Shepherd, A Mighty Heart, Changeling. I think those have all been pretty decent flicks.

american girl in italy said...

Oh, and I love the red lipstick and hats in this film and in life!

EDH said...

BTW, Firefox (1982) was the 9th movie Clint Eastwood directed.

And, damn, that Lt. Colonel Voskov character was so hard to believe!

:)

The Crack Emcee said...

"From Dusk To Dawn" was sooooo cool. I knew nothing about it when I saw it, and when it took off, so did I!

What did Meade think?

dick said...

What Firefox are you using. The mouse overs worked just fine for me and I am using Firefox on Linux. No problem at all.

Rialby said...

Maybe someone else pointed this out earlier - what's fascinating about the Gran Torino review is how much you dwell on the emphasis on "manliness" in the film. This, at a time when you were a single woman living alone without a man in your life. Then, in an instant, you turn around and marry someone who - from what I know of him - is a classical manly guy. He's probably good with tools, knows how to bring broken stuff back to life, etc.

Interesting, that.

Revenant said...

I've liked Angelina Jolie in everything I've seen her in. She's always convincing, even if the movie itself is crap. She's sort of the female Russel Crowe or Gene Hackman in that regard.

edutcher said...

edutcher said... "You're being too analytical. A conlawprof thing, I suppose. A movie is a movie, you just watch."

By you, you mean me? Speak for yourself. Use correct pronouns. I'll do whatever I want.


I meant you, but was also speaking generically. As for pronouns, the impersonal you, I believe, works here.

"And hopefully enjoy."

You suggest that it isn't enjoyable to be analytical. Speak for yourself. I enjoy it. I enjoy blogging. Do you think I do this as a chore? I have more fun writing about a movie than watching it.


OK, for me, sitting with a note pad and pencil, ticking off what I like or not, doesn't seem like a ton of fun. The watching is what's fun for me and, I think, for most people.

You seem a little defensive today. Didn't mean to step on your toes.

danielle said...

"By you, you mean me? Speak for yourself. Use correct pronouns. I'll do whatever I want. "

Althouse kickin ass and takin names.

love it !

jamboree said...

You're just getting to this movie?

Eastwood: I got sucked into The Man With No Name Trilogy a few years ago. I had never even condescended to watch a Western before that. I thought Eastwood was synonymous with Bruce Willis or some idiot action figure like that.

What a pleasure to be proven wrong - even the action genre was wry. And then there's the poncho...have to agree with Jolie on this. It's funny, my mom likes Bridges of Madison County Eastwood and I like the younger version.

Angelina's hands: The scourge of a strong workout /weights regimen. And if you grow up with it, you might get man hands as many actresses today have.

Anyway, I thought she was great in Girl Interrupted and even Foxfire - in a teen movie kind of way.

danielle said...

sorry to briefly divert from the subject at hand, but if any of you commented on the Gore split, there are some *hilarious* gems in this article.

T J Sawyer said...

Was using Firefox 3.5.9 on Windows XP but upgraded to 3.6.3 (This on a different computer)

Discovered the problem. By "Mouse over" and later "click", Althouse didn't mean "Mouseover" - she meant "Highlight". Communications error between us!

WV "triable" - the various mouse options were very triable!

fivewheels said...

I've liked Jolie in many of the movies I've seen her in. She's the only good human performer in Sky Captain (a better Nick Fury than Sam Jackson), and I kind of loved Wanted, which is a terrible, terrible, awful and great movie.

But in Wanted, the last time I've seen her, she's so skinny it's distracting and a little off-putting. Her arms are not only thin and bony, they're quite long, which accentuates the issue. I don't doubt that the Hollywood aesthetic has been pretty bad for her body. She still has a lot of charisma, but I don't see a lot of actual beauty. Eh, it's her life.

I've also found that more women see Jolie as a beauty ideal than men. Not sure why, but I think the exaggerated twigginess is part of that.

fivewheels said...

That's a comment on the hands issue, if that's not clear, not just an extemporaneous critique of Ms. Jolie's appearance.

dbp said...

Something I have noticed in Clint Eastwood's action films is the distinctive nature of action sequences. Gunfights (as well as fistfights) in his Sergio Leone films, Dirty Harry films and then films he directed are visually similar. It makes me wonder which alternative is true: 1. Did he learn these techniques while he was an actor? 2. Did he have a creative influence on the directors of his early films?

Ann Althouse said...

"I meant you, but was also speaking generically. As for pronouns, the impersonal you, I believe, works here."

Pauline Kael used to drive you crazy by writing in the second person like that.

Jon said...

Jolie's beauty is definitely overrated.

I've never seen The Changeling.

I actually did watch King Fu Panda, which was ok. except I couldn't get past the fact that the panda's father was a duck.

knox said...

I wanted to watch that movie and not know that was going to happen.

I am always wishing that ...

For example, I never got to see "Psycho" without knowing what would happen. I knew all about the shower scene, etc.

I saw the "Crying Game" and "The Sixth Sense" without knowing what the big surprise would be ... but I knew that a big shocker was coming, and even that changes the experience.

Alex said...

I thought "Changeling" was an excellent film and one of Jolie's better performances. Of course it requires suspension of belief that the mother would look like Jolie, when we know what the real one looked like.

prairie wind said...

I'd bet someone else has already pointed this out, but "mouse over" generally refers to simply moving your mouse over the hotspot. Some ads ask you to mouse over and that action expands the ad. Althouse should have said, "highlight," or "click and drag." There is text in the gray box, and you need to highlight it in order to read it.

prairie wind said...

Got through the comments and yep--TJ got to it before me. And I see too that Althouse is going to do whatever she wants.

So, nevermind.

Robert said...

Unthinkable is a goog movie and won't get the time of day. Samuel L. Jackson - straight to DVD. I'm sure there is no back story here.

Paul said...

Angelina Jolie has zombie hands.

You know who's a famous actress who has done remarkably few movies that weren't mediocre or outright sucky? Uma Thurman. Outside of her Tarantino movies and a couple of early ones like Dangerous Liaisons, not much.