Monday, December 01, 2003

THANKSGIVING MISCELLANY.While the world watched Flight Suit II, I took in much of the Fish at Dallas, and was amazed at how slow the 'Boys looked; even the superpatriotic halftime show, with lots of wildly gesticulating Cowgirls and a giant golden eagle that looked like a Simpsons prop ("From sea to shi-ning sea!") rising from the dry ice, could not rouse the home team from its torpor.

Speaking of shining sea: When I read Patrick O'Brien's Master and Commander last year, I saw Russell Crowe in the lead, and last weekend I saw him again, this time for real, as Captain Jack Aubrey in the movie version. The Crowe/Aubrey I saw in my head was a good deal wilder than the thoughtful Crowe in Peter Weir's movie, and that's the crux of my problem with it. I enjoyed the film, but at times it felt as becalmed as a skiff in the Doldrums, despite a great crowding of lovely incident and detail. H.M.S. Surprise is pursuing a French warship, but most of the screen time is devoted to private crises of conscience, naturalism in Galapagos, and string duets. Couldn't "Lucky Jack" have swashed his buckle a little more? Think what Charles Laughton, who was closer in poundage to the literary Aubrey, would have made of the role! Then it all comes down to one of those modern movie battles cut so choppily and paced so fast that you can't see who's doing what.

All told, a great-looking picture and all hands did their duty, but I prefer Mutiny on the Bounty and the old style of moviemaking that took its cues from stage melodrama. These days its seems all the gasps go to the CGI effects, not to the behavior of the characters (though Maturin's self-surgery was way rad). It's more "realistic," I guess, in a narrow way, but if something's going to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, I'd rather it were actors than nautical models in giant tanks of water.

Finally: I like the way these guys think.

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