Friday, June 09, 2006

Midwestern whimsy

• Yesterday I saw A Prairie Home Companion. I had never heard the radio show, though I kind of knew what the shtick is about (which is why I have never heard the radio show).
I don't particularly care for the midwest, nor for Garrison Keillor and his down home shtick. But I do care for the films of Robert Altman. The last movie of his I saw, The Company, about the Joffrey Ballet, was so godawful, that I was thinking Altman should throw in the towel already. Happily, he has returned to form with this new one. As always, it's an uneven deal.
I was entertained by several things, the incredible palette of Ed Lachman's cinematography, the stunning fluidity of Altman's amazing style (kudos to the camera operators), and some of the performers, who were extremely alive amd wonderful.
I loved seeing Woody Harrelson and the great John C. Reilly play two singing cowboys. Both sing and play the guitar beautifully, and were excellent. I enjoyed watching Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin act off each other. La Streep is the kind of monster actress who has 27 emotional reactions in the time the others have just one, and this while singing a song. She is a great comedic actress and her choices are always surprising. She's a bit over the top, but she is amazing to watch. Lily Tomlin is fantastic, landing one liners with fabulous precision. La Lohan deports herself with great professionalism, sings well and does better than anybody has a right to expect. If she is a coke whore, fine, as long as it doesn't interfere with her acting. Tommy Lee jones just has to show up to make me happy. BUT. The movie is way too long. Nothing much happens and what does is quite silly. I didn't care for Kevin Kline playing a bumbling old-fashioned detective. He's funny, but seems way too self-conscious. I also didn't care for Virginia Madsen playing an angel. I hate whimsy. I hate angels even more.
One thing I can say, is this movie is not going to travel well. I can almost guarantee that nobody outside this country is going understand drat about this movie. They are going to shake their heads in bewilderment. It will seem to them like a reenactment of the Waltons or Little House on the Prairie. They will just not get it. Whatever it is that one must get.

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