Saturday, July 19, 2008

Two kinds of cheese

The only woman in film who's smooched with Dirty Harry and James Bond.

When I saw Moulin Rouge, my first thought when the credits were rolling was: "Can I like duck into the bathroom and stay and see this again?" I had the same feeling when I saw Mamma Mia. It’s silly and mindless and cheery and relentlessly catchy, just like a good pop song -- like, in fact, the Abba songs that make up its score. I defy you to see it and not have a good time on the same grounds that I would defy you to listen to catchy pop and not walk around humming the tune for the next 24 hours. In other words, google “Noel Coward” and “cheap music,” and then file this movie under P for Potent.

You can also file it under O for over-the-top. That pretty much describes Meryl Streep, who gives a master class in mugging and still makes you feel like the character is grounded. Christine Baranski is her usual brilliant self, Julie Walters is pretty much wasted until “Take A Chance On Me,” Colin Firth looks really gay in a dog collar, Stellan Skarsgard is like a post-punk Father Goose, and Pierce Brosnan has the singing voice of a laryngitic hound and could give a shit what you think. They’re all totally fearless in their total silliness, and there’s nothing more silly than the credit sequence music number when the guys don disco outfits and sing with the girls to “Waterloo.”

Zeitgeist note: this is officially the movie summer for Women Of A Certain Age, and I say yay. In a typical Hollywood scenario, any film with three male leads in their 50’s would have at least one of them wind up with a girl he should be adopting instead of dating. Not here. Think it had to do with the fact that executive producers and the director were women? (Yup.) (Double yay.)

I just wish the large-cast musical numbers had been better directed. There’s no real flow to them. I have seen few scenes more delightful than an entire Greek island of women dropping whatever it is they’re doing so they can join in with Streep, Baranski and Walters as they sing "Dancing Queen." But because it’s not shot and edited to give you the build, there’s no payoff when everybody ends up on the pier singing the chorus. It’s the pop tune equivalent of fucking up the channels when you do the mix.

Oh, and the blog title? There is good cheese and stinky cheese. This is good cheese.

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