Yes, the blog has been having a bit of split personality disorder lately. Or maybe it’s not the blog, maybe it’s me. Hmm, I’ll have to think on that one.
After Joe picked Law Abiding Citizen, it was my turn to roll the cinematic dice – we’re diplomatic that way – if you blow it, you lose picking privileges until forgiven. So, I picked Amelia, which I thought would be a fascinating story of how a woman of her era became such a feminist, a pioneer for women in the field of aviation at a time when women driving cars was frowned upon. No such luck. The film opens with Ms. Earhart’s first trip to New York to essentially auditition for George Putnam, he would later become her husband, for the prize spot of becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic – as part of the crew, but really as a celebrated passenger. Where’d she come from? Unclear. Why does she fly? Who knows. Family? General information about her father having problems with alcohol. Instead of getting to the heart of Earhart, the movie chooses to center around the relationship between her and George, with a side trip to Vidal land – which because we know nothing about her other than she is a freewheeling free thinker not to be tied down, or earthbound, but artificial constructs such as marriage, makes very little sense.
So, what should be an enlightening biopic turns into essentially Titanic in the air – a rather boring, trite romance, with Richard Gere looking all misty eyed — and you know behind his glazed over eyes, he’s just counting the money that he’ll make from this movie, and how much he’ll be able to give to the Dalai Lama, laughing at everyone who bought a ticket to this Oscar contender in sheeps clothing – ha ha, fooled ya! And, I guess in order to perpetuate the fraud that this is actually a good biography and a serious film, it is critical of Earhart – how many times can it tell us that in actuality, she wasn’t a very good pilot, had little training, and probably shouldn’t have been soloing across the globe in the first place? And, because we have no back story, no insight into Amelia aside from her relationship with George, it’s hard to come away from the movie without thinking – silly woman, what was she thinking?
And, Hilary Swank really doesn’t help matters. Sure, she could be Amelia’s twin, yeah, she’s got that strange androgyny thing going – but all of this really serves as a distraction. Like her teeth – I find it hard to watch Swank because of her teeth – just a little aside. Here, Swank affects what I suppose is a Kansas accent – puts on masculine, boyish clothes, and has her eyes permanently affixed straight ahead, in a wide eyed stare, I guess signifying honesty, and a rose colored glasses way of looking at the world. Just doesn’t work for me. And, I don’t believe it – I look at pictures of Amelia Earhart, and the one thing you know from those pictures is that she was a player – and everything she did, she did full throttle – those pictures show hard living – and you get none of that from Swank. The accent, the strange speech patterns, the clothes – she wears them like a Halloween costume – it all seemed very unnatural – she didn’t become the character, she just wore her.
So, will the Academy be fooled – accents are biggies at award time, along with gaining weight, and playing Nazis. Heck, Richard Gere could be nominated for best support actor his “subtle” (he mailed it in) performance, could be a nice enough performance for the Academy to throw him a body of work bone. And her – if she gets nominated, it’s definitely what I’ve called in the past, the Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome – this wasn’t a great performance, but she has all the trappings to fool a fool – accent, teeth, clothes. We’ll have to see.