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Only the director let her fall back on her standard bag of tricks. Instead of progressing from tough-as-nails to loving-and-loyal, she starts out pert and ends up perky.
That's not much of a progression.
The script continues to treat her as if she were playing the character as written. But instead, she's pert and sassy from the start. So there's nowhere to go.
This is such a terrible, obvious, destructive mistake that one wonders where the director was. Didn't they rehearse? Didn't he understand that she was wiping out any kind of development in the movie?
For all I know, pert-to-perky was his idea. You never know where the blame lies.
In Enchanted, her perkiness was sarcastic. In Miss Pettigrew, her perkiness was a kind of selfish insanity. I thought she was acting like that because it's what the script called for.
But this script called for some darkness, loneliness, hard edges, meanness. She said all the lines, but she was cute while saying them.
Contrast her with an actress who is often accused of being able to play only cute-and-sassy parts: Meg Ryan. Then think of Ryan in her signature roles – Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. Plenty of pert. But also brooding, angry, hurt, suffering. Anyone who says this actress has no range doesn't understand acting.
But in Trouble with the Curve, Amy Adams appeared to be what Meg Ryan is wrongly accused of: a performer who can play only one tune on her instrument.
Admittedly, sometimes it totally works to be nothing but pert and perky. In this movie, that's all that Justin Timberlake needed to do, and he did it.
Playwright/screenwriter David Mamet, fed up with phony method acting techniques, tells actors, "Just say the lines," because he, as the writer, as already put in the motivations. And he's right.
But he's forgetting the fact that actors bring attitude to the scenes, whether they mean to or not. And when an actor falls back on a bag of tricks, and it doesn't fit the part, it can undo most of what the writer was trying to do.
Let's keep in mind, however, that the director, Robert Lorenz, has had a solid career as an assistant director, second unit director and producer. He's never been the guy working out the main storyline with the actors.
Plus, most film directors actually suck at directing actors. They direct the camera; they direct the script; but the actors are on their own.
So Amy Adams may have been flailing around without any kind of guidance, and so she did exactly what Clint Eastwood did – rely on the stuff that has always worked before. It's just that for Eastwood, his bag of tricks was exactly right for the part. Hers was exactly wrong.
The result is that even though the film's sense of fulfilment absolutely depends on our hearts breaking for her and then rejoicing as she finally ends her loneliness and achieves happiness in a life and career that she is much better suited for, that emotional element is completely missing.
All we get are the note cards.
This sounds like I hated the movie, but I didn't. I enjoyed it as a pleasant evening's entertainment. Most people don't watch the same way I watch; you won't necessarily see the note-card writing or how wrong the pert-to-perky character arc was for Mickey.
But you also won't come out of the movie with an emotional transformation. But since that's what the writer was trying for, however ineptly, that means the movie fails. It strained and strained and delivered adequacy. And with a cast like this, it should have been more.
What's wrong with this movie isn't the baseball. In fact, I could have used a little more clarity in the baseball. I wish we could have heard the other aging scouts actually discuss the players intelligently – or snipe at each other about past decisions. Instead, the writer skipped over the knowing-everything-about-baseball portion of his assignment. He substituted a boring baseball-trivia competition between Mickey and Johnny. Too bad.
I've spent a lot of time telling you what's wrong with a movie that is actually pretty good. Nobody's going to feel cheated out of the ticket price – my wife and I felt fine about spending an evening at this movie.
But when a movie tries to be really good and turns out to be merely OK, I think it's worth spending a little time pointing out why. A lot of movies fail because of the intervention of ignorant studio executives. But this isn't one of them. It clearly had plenty of support. And this movie doesn't fail. It just doesn't become anything.
After my reviews of surrealist painters last week, several people pointed out that my links took them directly to offensive nude art.
I honestly thought I had included warnings about that – I make it a point to do so. And there was a draft that included exactly that warning. But in deleting a section, I deleted the warning without realizing. My apologies. I'm not offended by nudity in art, unless it's pornographic; but for some people, nudity and pornography are indistinguishable. I really do try to give fair warning and I apologize for blowing it this time.
On the other hand, several people pointed out favorite surrealists that I hadn't heard of. One that I think you'll find interesting (and nobody's naked) is the surreal photography of Erik Johansson, a Swedish photographer who retouches photos with results reminiscent of M.C. Escher – or a really bratty kid.
Remember, as you look at these photos, that they are photos. He did not actually bury a bicyclist in fresh asphalt, or break somebody's arms into fragments, or find a road with a 90-degree drop-off. This is art – manipulating and transforming photographic images to form things that could never exist (or wouldn't be worth the effort to try to create) in the real world.
Take a look at http://sn.im/johanssonart
Audiobook versions of Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have long been available on tape and CD, but now, at last, you can buy them and download them from Audible.com.
The moment I got the email from Audible, I bought and downloaded them. That was last week, and while exercising and running errands and doing yardwork, I've already listened to The Hobbit and Fellowship of the Ring, and I'm halfway through The Two Towers.
Rob Inglis' reading remains brilliant.
The worst and best thing about the audio version of these books is that you can't skip the songs, the way most of us do when reading the book on the page. Tolkien had a thing for folk-level songs, humorous and heroic, and his characters burst into songs so often you might think you were in a musical.
Rob Inglis was already doing readings from Tolkien's work during Tolkien's lifetime, and he got Tolkien's approval for the tunes he came up with for the songs. Often they have the feeling of stock folktunes – which is exactly right. But for the songs sung by elves, orcs and dwarves, something different was needed, so Inglis made up quite original tunes. Almost every song is spot on....continued on page 3