Lizz and I are back in Omaha after 4 glorious days in California. We flew in to Palm Springs on Friday to visit Lizz’s grandpa. Considering it snowed in Omaha last week, it was a bit of a shock, although a pleasant one. We ate great food, enjoyed the sun, and even took a couple dips in the pool. On Saturday afternoon, we drove to LA to visit my best friend from high school and his wife. That night we went to Santa Monica. We walked the beach and stepped in the ocean just as the sun was setting over the mountains. Glorious. Then, I was roped into a street performance before we ate more good food. On Sunday, we visited Griffith Park, went to a fantastic street market, and ate even more fantastic food (I overloaded on fish tacos all trip). Yesterday was a long day of traveling and now we are back in the Midwest and real life.
My UNO class is over for the summer, so I’m going to be a little less overloaded with papers to grade. It will be nice only teaching one class for a while, once this quarter ends at Metro. I’m looking forward to having a little more time to read, watch movies, and write.
I thought I’d also give a couple blurbs on some movies I’ve neglected to write about on here. Hopefully I will get back to more extended, more regular reviews in the coming weeks.
Film #13 – Cosmopolis
(Writers and Director: David Cronenberg; from the novel by Don DeLillo)
It’s always dangerous to watch the film adaptation of a book you love. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, thinking about, and writing on DeLillo’s post-9/11 output. Although Cosmopolis is one of DeLillo’s least popular novels, I love it. It’s more of a theoretical treatise than a novel, and I can certainly understand why it grates on people. But I love the man’s prose, regardless of its pretentiousness.
Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of Cronenberg’s adaptation. It just feels wrong on so many levels, the primary one being the casting of Robert Pattinson as Wall Street mogul Eric Packer. He just doesn’t have the chops for this weird of a role. He plays Packer as borderline stupid, whereas in the novel he is clearly a genius, just a really disaffected one. It doesn’t help that DeLillo’s dialogue sounds so ridiculous coming out of actual humans, but it just seems ultra-stunted here. My biggest concerns are thematic. I just think Cronenberg misses the critical edge of the novel. The book has this momentum to it that border on surrealism. Cronenberg doesn’t quite match that here.
Crucially, the most fundamental aspect of the novel is missing in the film: Packer has moments where he seems to see the future, even just a couple milliseconds ahead of time. For me, this aspect is so critically tied into DeLillo’s critique of modern capitalism that to leave it out, or merely have Pattinson mention it once, defeats the whole purpose of the story.
I have no doubt my lack of objectivity is a problem here, but you adapt something I love, you run the risk.
Film #14 – Magic Mike
(Writer: Reid Carolin; Director: Steven Soderbergh)
I’m not even going to pretend I wasn’t excited to see this. I love Steven Soderbergh, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a movie about male strippers or Liberace, I’m down. It also helps that I had heard quite a bit of good things from people I actually trust, and unsurprisingly, Soderbergh delivers a really entertaining Hollywood film. Channing Tatum continues to prove himself a charming actor (remember his brilliance in 21 Jump Street) and he really carries this film. For his part, Soderbergh and screenwriter Carolin work to give Magic Mike a more relatable edge by making economics a key factor in the plot. Unfortunately, they sort of abandon it halfway through. At the beginning, Mike is an aspiring entrepreneur who is unable to get a bank load for his furniture business because his credit sucks (he works in a cash-only business). But this seems to serve more as a plot point than a real character component. We are told of his passion, but we never see it.
That being said, can we really fault the filmmakers for making this an entertaining, if predictable, film about male strippers and not a quiet contemplation on economic recessions and the everyday workingman? I think it pursues those angles enough to make the film enough while also fulfilling its basic promise.