The Accidental Vanilla Sunset

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i'll trade france jerry lewis for julie delpy

Keeping with the movie theme, here are some quick thoughts on the last few movies I saw before joining the Blockbuster DVD-by-mail program.

Before Sunset – I was going to wait until I saw Before Sunrise again before saying anything about its sequel, but Blockbuster says that I have a “very long wait” for that one. The missus and I saw Before Sunrise in the theatre back when it originally came out in 1995 (that also makes it Before Sons for us). I don’t remember much from the first movie other than that it was an obvious art-house film. I liked it, but it definitely didn’t make a lasting impression on me. I think that was the point. It was just a quiet little movie about a couple of strangers walking around Vienna waiting for the dawn and the trains that would split them apart. Before Sunset takes place nine years later as they reconnect in Paris. It’s the same concept, this time walking around waiting for a plane to take Ethan Hawke back to his wife-and-child life. The film happens in real time and both Hawke and Julie Delpy are so relaxed and are so obviously having fun, which adds depth to the simple story. It also makes you really like these guys, not an easy task when dealing with Ethan Hawke. Nothing really earth-shattering and no deep revelations but I found myself smiling throughout, and not all of that had to do with the beautiful Ms. Delpy and her wonderful singing voice.

The Accidental Tourist – I took this video out from the same library that I borrowed the Anne Tyler novel from this year. Another quiet movie, technically I guess it’s a chick flick but William Hurt never lets it get mushy (okay, maybe in the very last scene). I’m a big fan of Tyler and thankfully her story does not suffer in the move to the big screen. Geena Davis plays an eccentric without chewing up the scenery, earning herself an Oscar (though for Best Supporting Actress when Best Actress would have been more appropriate). The only bit of criticism would be that William Hurt’s wife isn’t as fleshed out or as sympathetic a character as she is in the book. I think some of this has to do with the time restraints of the movie but is mostly due to a miscast Kathleen Turner. If you want to know what I thought of the story, go back to my post on the novel.

Vanilla Sky – 120 minutes of WTF? followed by 15 minutes of that’s it? Like an overlong Twilight Zone episode, one of those few episodes you forgot about as soon as it was over. Cameron Crowe uses the “what’s a dream and what’s real?” hook to cover up the fact that there really isn’t an interesting story behind it. It didn’t take long for me to stop caring about the characters and just hang on to see how everything is explained. The explanation is so rushed at the end and so unspectacular that it left me unimpressed. Crowe adds some Sixth Sense-like “did you catch that clue?” stuff at the end, but nothing that makes it worthwhile to actually go back and watch various characters say “open your eyes” about a kabillion times. As it often happens in his movies you never get past the fact that Tom Cruise is playing The Smile (as he’s called in the biz), even though he spends most of this movie behind a mask (and after the awful Eyes Wide Shut you would think Tom would stop making movies involving masks, but I guess not).


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