Monday, December 10, 2007

Solo Con Tu Pareja and Across the Universe

I watched two drastically different movies today, it being my one day off and all. And when I mean drastically different films, I mean I watched two films as different as about anything you can imagine.

Both were based on recommendations by people at the office.

The first was Alfonso Cuaron's first feature length effort, Solo con tu pareja. Patrick loaned it to me with his highest recommendation. You don't need much higher a recommendation for than the fact that Cuaron directed it, but I'd never even heard of this film.

This was an incredibly charming comedy with the most outlandish dramatic premise that I can think of. The film revolves around Tomas Tomas, a veritable Don Juan who simultaneously falls deeply in love with his one true soul mate and learns that he is HIV positive. Sounds like a comedy, doesn't it?

The climax revolves around them both vowing to commit suicide, her because her fiancee is cheating on her, him because his swaggering days are numbered.

The problem is that he doesn't really have HIV. The nurse in charge of his paperwork played a cruel prank on him for sleeping with her and another woman on the same night and morning.

It reminded me of the screwball sorts of Howard Hawks kind of comedies that I'm quite fond of but in the hands of a director like Cuaron.

So, I would offer this film quite a high recommendation for anyone who enjoys Alfonso Cuaron (which should be all of you.)

This film was recommended to me by Matt the intern and I'd had a passing interest in seeing it anyway.

Julie Taymor. Okay. Beatles songs. Cool. Love Story. Sure. It seemed like all the pieces would be there. You'd like to think all the pieces would be there, wouldn't you?

Let me describe the movie to you: Take Moulin Rouge minus the heart add it to Rent (with all of it's shittiness) and throw in Buzby Berkeley numbers without any heart, imagination or soul. Now you might start getting an idea as of to what this picture looks like. If I had to sum it up in one word it would be "catastrophe."

My brother described it thusly, "It's like you're trying to play tether ball, but the ball is attached to Alf and you're trying to hit the ball with a cat. It just doesn't work."

I wanted to like it. I like sappy love stories as much as the next guy, but this one was totally devoid of heart or emotion. It felt like Taymor relied on any personal feelings you'd bring to the table with the music already set in place and made a conscious effort to leave anything else out.

The story was all over the place, what little emotion was there was scattered like a roller coaster, but not the good kind of roller coaster that rises to a point and lets you go, this was one of those little kid roller coaster that's just three or four little peaks and valleys on a continuous loop. The script was just truly bad. It's almost as though a studio executive sat down with a script and said, "Well, we've got a terrible script, what do we do to fix it?"

Then his yes-man responds, "You who what isn't terrible? The Beatles."

And the studio executive replies, "Perfect. We'll put 'em together and see what happens. Get me Julie Taymor."

And then, for some reason, they decided to do away with subtlety for the purpose of the motion picture. There's a lesbian girl who literally won't come out of the closet. A group of drafted soldiers storm a model of Vietnam with the Statue of Liberty as a battering ram and all end up as wounded veterans. Just before breaking out into "Strawberry Fields Forever," we cut to a shot guessed it...strawberries... And Bono.... Jesus... Bono....

It was just not good. And at 133 minutes, I can't imagine it being worth anyone's time. And I'm a fan of the Beatles and I don't feel like it was worth my time even for that. Sorry Matt the intern, I just really didn't like it.

At all.


Shelly said...

So nice, so blunt! Now I'm going to have to see both. For Matt the intern's sake.

the old knight of the new morning said...

I loved across the universe. I have seen it twice. I thought it was just artsy enough to be good. I love the beatles and the vesions they did were excelent. I am amazed that you didn't like it, I always thought you liked good movies.

HunterMann said...

Thanks for your enthusiastic review of Cuaron's film Solo Con Tu Pareja.
I had the great fortune to work on that film in Mexico City, 1990. The cast and crew...all very talented. Among the crew, were the great Rodrigo Prieto(2nd Unit director of photography) and Brigitte Broch(art director, who won a shared Oscar for art direction on Moulin Rouge).
See you at the cinema,
Hunter M.