Hollywood Piffle

This past weekend, as MrStinky & StinkyLu were settling into their seats at the downtown googaplex for a screening of Million Dollar Baby, MrStinky leaned over and whispered: "We shoulda gone to Hitch."

Now, having seen both films, StinkyLulu has to say --
MrStinky was so right.

StinkyLulu found Million Dollar Baby to be a morally vacuous melodrama, ponderous and overwrought in both acting and visual style. Righteous Hollywood piffle at its most lugubrious. Which might have been fine if the whole thing had been obliquely stylized in terms of period, location and setting like some early 50s weepie. What drained Million Dollar Baby of what soul it might have had, though, was the recourse to a thoughtless default naturalism -- especially in the boxing & hospital scenes. Here, the art directors are to blame for the incomprensible inconsistency that make this film not "a noirist masterpiece" but a superficial neo-naturalist exercise in irreality. Most noxious? The product placement on props and costume elements that actually have dramaturgical import -- the most obvious case in point being the luxurious shot of the everlast logo on the ringside stool that just minutes later changes the life of the Hilary Swank character. (And it'd likely be best not to get StinkyLu started on either the brands of beer at the diners or the Unversal studios tee-shirts...)

In contrast, StinkyLulu found Hitch to be surprisingly entertaining, in marked contrast to the insipid trailers promoting the film. Will Smith's a charmer; Eva Mendes needs a real movie; Kevin James stands out as a brilliantly dear romantic star. The movie's able to do the same thing that made Sex & The City (at its best) so entrancing: narrate the pursuit of love/affection/connection without succumbing entirely to sentimentalism or cynicism, all the while using excellent NYC locations to make the whole thing just giddily pretty. Hollywood piffle to be sure but without the insulting veneer of social significance...

StinkyLu loves Hollywood piffle more than most. But some piffle just pisses StinkyLulu off...

1 comment:

Afrofuturist said...

I was unwowed by M$B as well, and like the way you put things. I felt some of the product placement, like an ad for 'The Apprentice' on the side of bus, was meant to remind us that we were in the present, rather than in some period piece. But it felt like a period piece anyway, and a bad one at that.