Saturday, May 19, 2007

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good…

As part of Culture Snob’s blogathon on Misunderstood Movies, I thought I’d give my thoughts on three-time Razzie nominee Mr. Deeds, the film that was actually my number 1 movie of all time before I saw The Shawshank Redemption on my 14th birthday. I don’t love it as much as I did then, but it is a film that I hold very fondly in my heart, and feel has been extremely misunderstood.

Firstly, yes, it’s a remake of the Frank Capra 1936 classic, with Adam Sandler stepping into Gary Cooper’s shoes, and yes, Sandler is not exactly an ideal imitation of Gary Cooper. But I genuinely feel that Mr. Deeds borrows the storyline and the storyline only from Capra’s ’36 version, like the British soap "Hollyoaks", Mr. Deeds *knows* how ruddy awful it is, and doesn’t have aspirations of anything better. So it should be enjoyed as that, and not judged by the predecessor. If anything, the producers ought to be hailed for being brave enough to remake such a cherished classic! Furthermore, I get the vibe that lots of critics just groaned at the prospect of “another Adam Sandler movie”, when there really is no such thing. Except maybe Anger Management.

Despite its aspirations of mediocrity, it delivers as promised on most levels, as well as managing to reach moments of comedic genius. Mr. Deeds exploits fully the sort of gags and humour Sandler's previous films have called on with success (Buscemi and Tutorro are both here again in wonderful supporting roles), while adding new, unforgettable moments, such as the hilarious sliding down stairs sequence.

Very misunderstood movie film.

Furthermore, the central character of Mr. Deeds is actually a pretty decent guy. With an endearing character the audience can actually root for, what this movie does is milk the comic elements of Sandler’s acting range, whilst subtly giving us all a lesson on morality, and the ever-lasting message that money isn’t everything. Like Mr. Deeds and Winona Ryder’s character, we come to learn this through the movie. Adam Sandler, who surprised critics with his other 2002 effort, Punch-Drunk Love, is not so superlative here as he is in Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpiece, but his performance certainly is good, I feel.

So, I urge everyone who originally hated Mr. Deeds to check it out again. It is admittedly slushy, it is admittedly cringey, but it’s definitely misunderstood.
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Friday, May 04, 2007

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know.

Favourite cinematic bad boys;
Stanley Kowalski. Streetcar.
Jim Stark. Rebel Without a Cause.
Jim Carroll. The Basketball Diaries.

The writer for you today is John Keats. Here's my favourite poem of his:

MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, 5
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-wingèd Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease. 10

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South! 15
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim: 20

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs, 25
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow. 30

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night, 35
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. 40

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; 45
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. 50

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die, 55
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod. 60

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 65
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that ofttimes hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 70

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades 75
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—do I wake or sleep? 80

Rather pretty, no?