Monday Movie Reviews: Quick hits

I may do a few of these three-at-a-time jobs until I get caught up.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981) 7/10
Meryl Streep is a “fallen woman” in Victorian England, and Jeremy Irons is a man who becomes obsessed with her. At the same time, Streep and Irons are actors filming a movie about these Victorian characters.

To a great extent, I Don’t Get It. I really don’t. I didn’t feel like the juxtaposition added anything to the story. I know it has Deep Meaning, but that meaning is obtuse to me.

The Fountain (2006) 5/10
Hugh Jackman is Tomas, a conquistador serving Queen Isabella (Rachel Weisz). At the same time, he is Tommy, a research scientist, and Izzi is his dying wife. There’s also a big bubble with a tree.

Speaking of I Don’t Get It. This is not the same situation as The French Lieutenant’s Woman; this is a purposely obtuse movie so in love with its Big Ideas that it forgets there’s an audience who might like to follow along.

Hugh Jackman naked, though.

Dreamland (2006) 7/10
Audrey (Agnes Bruckner) and Callista (Kelli Garner) are best friends in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere. Audrey cares for her drunk, phobic father (John Corbett). When a cute new guy (Justin Long) moves in, the stress of longing to be more and the desire for the same boy stir things up.

This is a lovely little coming of age movie, very gentle and enjoyable. It relies a tad too much on cliché, and is perhaps not exactly fascinating, but I enjoyed it.


  1. Melville says:

    Re The French Lieutenant’s Woman: The novel by John Fowles (which I liked very much) is very discursive, filled with asides by Fowles where he addresses the reader directly about how the story he’s telling is fictional, and about the difficulties he’s facing in the process of telling the story. I guess the screenwriter (Harold Pinter, no less!) figured that doing it as a film-within-a-film would be somehow equivalent. I agree with you, it doesn’t work. But it does make me wonder what the results would be if Charles Kaufman tackled the problem

  2. Deborah Lipp says:

    Interesting. The Kaufman idea is certainly enticing!

  3. Hazel says:

    The Fountain: that scene in the bath was worth the rest of the film’s wilful obscurity. Hugh and Rachel were hot.

    I saw The French Lieutenant’s Woman in the cinema in 1981 and I remember being embarrassed by the swearing and the sex scenes (which I assume are very tame by the standards of the many films I have seen since then). I was also naive enough to think that if I didn’t “get” a film there was something wrong with me.

  4. Hob says:

    Hmm, I didn’t have trouble with The Fountain at all. The tone is ponderous for sure, but obtuse? I thought I had a good sense of the narrative, but maybe that just means I was confused. (Seriously, I wonder about this because I’ve never read a review of it that described the story I thought I saw.) The generic writing in the research lab subplot was irritating– otherwise a beautiful movie.

    Definitely wouldn’t rate it lower than The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which did absolutely nothing for me. (The novel either, though I agree that with Melville that Pinter’s adaptation wasn’t effective at all. Has Pinter ever done a really good screen adaptation? Why do they keep giving him those jobs? He also gunked up one of my favorite novels, Turtle Diary.)

  5. Deborah Lipp says:

    Hob, I watched the extras that came with the Fountain, and they were talking about Tom’s ship, and I was like SHIP? The big bubble was a SHIP????

    No, I understood nothing.

  6. Hob says:

    For what it’s worth, here’s what I thought the story was, if you unshuffled it. (Possibly entirely wrong SPOILERS…)

    1. Uninteresting doctor guy finds the secret of immortality, while his wife is dying.

    2. She’s been writing a novel about a conquistador looking for the Fountain of Youth. She leaves it for the doctor to finish. He writes an ending in which the soldier finds the Fountain, which is really a tree (based on the tree from which he’s just derived the immortality drug), but instead of living forever as a human being and getting together with his true love, he loses his body and becomes part of the tree.

    3. (Not shown in movie, but I thought it was implied:) The doctor buries his wife under the special tree, figuring that her essence will be preserved in it. He takes the drug and becomes immortal. He spends the next 500 years taking care of the tree and finding a way to get to this particular star which he’s decided (based on her story) is the key to bringing back dead souls.

    4. That’s the same guy in the eco-bubble. This is just how space travel works in 500 years. He’s been passing the time eating bark and tattooing himself with the pen she left him.

    5. He gets to the star, except the tree has died because he removed too much bark. But when the star explodes, the essence of burned-up Hugh sprinkled over the tree manages to revive it at the last minute, implying that he’s been reunited with his wife in some way… same as the ending of the conquistador story, except that now she *is* the tree, so it’s a happy ending.

    Alternatively, it might all be about the gold standard.