Thursday, October 13, 2005

Speaking of movie icons: Mrs. Razor and I finally got around to watching "Million Dollar Baby" -- the Clint/Morgan/Hillary vehicle that everyone was so breathless about at the Oscars last March. While it was nicely filmed and certainly more than competently acted, I could not divine from whence the lavish praise and epic comparisons emanated.

Most of it was stock. First, you have Morgan Freeman narrate. It was great in Shawshank -- stupid to a fault in this movie. At the very, very end we are shown why he's been narrating the tale of Clint and Hillary (or Frankie and Maggie as portrayed in the film), but really, all it did was remove the intimacy and make you the passive viewer even more passive -- here's the dramatic part, here's the funny part, here's the sad part, here's the wrap-up. Really Clint, are you reduced to this?

Ms. Swank, playing the down-on-her-luck-since-the-day-she-was-prematurely-born-to-white-trailer-trash-waitress-with-the-heart-of-gold-plus-a-granite-jaw, certainly can do the southern accent, and makes you believe that ummm, life is hard and all, but her emotions are limited to plucky and then at the end, pathetic. Two notes are not what Oscars are supposed to be about.

Clint plays his own worst stereotype -- cranky yet loveable; cynical yet noble. See, he reads Yeats!! He is trying to learn Gaelic! We never know why he's such the intellectual, nor do we learn why he's estranged from his daughter, nor do we really know why ... oh there's too much we don't know. And that can be okay, I don't need to be spoonfed in every movie, but when you spoon-feed everything else, why stop with the director's character?

Back to Morgan. I mean, he does Red from Shawshank perfectly, and let's face it, when you want Red, you don't go get Martin Lawrence. You get Morgan Fucking Freeman. He's wise, he's world-weary, yet he retains his optimism in the human spirit. In other words, he doesn't exist, but this is what movies are for. Still, I was surprised that Clint wanted such an obvious caricature, and that Morgan agreed to provide it.

The point is, this movie only got its props because of Teri Schiavo. If you don't know what I mean, then I certainly don't want to give away the "surprise," but for my money, go watch "Rocky." "Raging Bull" is too depressing...."he said sarcastically" -- thanks Morgan!

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