Monday, April 24, 2006

The Perfect Movie



Have you seen it? Here is a virtuoso feat of storytelling almost nonpareil. I gravitate towards movies which require viewers to stay alert, and this one rewards rapt attention in spades. It has every element of a great movie (unless one is addicted to Jerry Bruckheimer action, which almost by definition precludes movie greatness): it sports a most engaging story of big and small themes with a thousand deftly-handled subplots, all of which wrap up at the end like a Bach fugue; wonderful characters, each with something to hide, who are brilliantly fleshed-out in spite of having to share screen time with so many other cast members; a brilliant script which bears close scrutiny and delivers new little secrets with each viewing. There is deft use of music, and not as typical Hollywood mood-manipulation, but often as in-scene atmosphere, which serves to place us in the scene. The authenticities and attentions to detail serve to carry one along on a surprisingly broad-ranging experience, from laughable felicity to passing moments of great poignancy. Expectations are set up and dashed, and things unexpected seem to spring out from around each corner. No one is quite who they seem, and yet they all seem true to their natures (if that makes sense).

And such good, good performances, all wrought by God's Own Cast. Helen Mirren is a miracle. Eileen Atkins. Kelly MacDonald. Emily Watson. Alan Bates. Michael Gambon. Kristin Scott Thomas. Ryan Phillippe. Bob Balaban. The deliciously reprehensible Maggie Smith. Jeremy Northam. There's nary a weak link in the whole chain.

Do me a favor. Do yourself a favor. Get a big bowl of popcorn and turn the lights down and the sound up and treat yourself. This is what movies are all about.

9 comments:

The Retropolitan said...

I respectfully disagree. That's how I wanted to view the movie, but all that happened was a lot of boredom.

Joshua said...

added it to my netflix: I guess I just need to come here for my media (I ordered "The End of Faith" too)

wunelle said...

I suspect, Mr. Retropolitan, that there was nothing wrong with Gosford Park that placing cyborgs in the servants' roles wouldn't fix. ;-)

Joshua--let me know what you think of Harris when you're done reading. I'm still working on it, and I have a lot of ideas which probably don't need to make their way here to the blog.

Joshua said...

I will be sure to. The last book I actually got to discuss with intellegent people was "High Fidelity"--which I might point out is a fine book, and I am in no way trying to put it down, but it would be nice to discuss something more "high brow"

Heather B. said...

I f*cking love Maggie Smith but have never seen that movie...

wunelle said...

You MUST see it (my friend Retropolitan not withstanding) and let Uncle Wunelle know what yout thought!

Anonymous said...

I shall borrow said movie and post appropriate comments, as I am renowned for.

Alex Random

wunelle said...

OK, I was in such a flutter of enthusiasm after the last viewing, I had to watch it again. And if anything I've understated the matter.

Watch the special features as well, the cast interview and the "making of" documentary. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous!

Oh, and Helen Mirren is HOT. She's a babe. I should age half so well as her and I'd be happy.

Dzesika said...

You know, even after having lived in Blighty for three-odd years, that film is still so funny. And largely true to form.