A bit of perspective

Posted by · 12:44 pm · May 21st, 2008

A day after its Cannes premiere, more “Changeling” reviews are coming through, and while the general feeling towards the film is still positive, some high-profile dissenters are emerging. The inestimable Manohla Dargis at The New York Times, usually an Eastwood die-hard, is surprisingly agnostic on the film, particularly with regard to Jolie’s performance:

Despite Ms. Jolie’s hard work and Mr. Eastwood’s scrupulous attention, the difficult, fairly one-dimensional character fails to take hold. For much of the film, Christine weeps and pleads, begging the police for help and fending off disbelievers. She clings to hope, the problem being that Ms. Jolie, whose off-screen role as Angelina Jolie is so much more vivid and all-consuming than the parts she now plays on screen, this one included, does not come across as a clinger or a whiner or a pleader or even much of a waterworks. Like Joan Crawford, Ms. Jolie seems capable now of only playing variations on herself, which is why she was more persuasive holding back her tears as a steely Mariane Pearl in “A Mighty Heart.”

On this side of the ocean, meanwhile, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw is distinctly underwhelmed, declaring the film “long, self-conscious and cumbersome.” He goes on to say:

The film’s heart is very obviously in the right place, but it is trying to be so many things at once: family drama, cop-corruption thriller, child-snatcher nightmare – and, for Jolie, another flight over the cuckoo’s nest, only this time with far more queenly dignity than in Girl, Interrupted. Accompanied with a syrupy musical score to cushion the dramatic blows (and to ensure that the audience isn’t too horrified or upset too early on) this over-long film fails to convey – is in fact afraid of conveying – the real horror of child loss.

Finally, Jeff Wells has posted his verdict, and while he joins the yea-sayers, he ultimately deems it “not a great film, but a very fine one.”

Make no mistake, “Changeling” still sounds like a helluva contender, but it’s useful to get some balance of opinion. The industry adores Eastwood, which explains the trade papers’ lyrical reviews; but that doesn’t always make for critical consensus. With another 2008 release still on the cards for Clint, it anyone’s guess how the man’s awards season will play out. He sure keeps the game interesting.    

As for the whole title issue, there still appears to be confusion – even Eastwood doesn’t know what it’s called. I say they should take a cue from Awards Daily, retitle it “The Changelina,” and stick with it.

→ 6 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

6 responses so far

  • 1 9-26-2008 at 5:29 pm

    Misha said...

    Sounds like Manohla Dargis is letting her Team Aniston bias and unfounded ill will affect her viewpoint on the film. I know a strong faction of Team Aniston lets their unfounded personal bias spread into an unfounded professional bias.
    Angelina is a great actress with a diverse range and saying that she just plays variations on herself is a sick, utterly false insult that clearly comes from personal scorn. The truth is, is that she did not truly victimize you know who and that she got trapped by that infamous rumor that got started on the set of that movie, and that would lead people to get the false impression of everything. I don’t want to provoke a pointless debate about that because I know the majority bought into that false storyline with great ignorance and passion.
    They would just reject any fact or insight I would share and demean me in the same fashion they degrade her. In fact, I am PLEADING with the rest of you not to bring up a discussion about that. I have coped with that cruelty and injustice for the past three years and I can’t handle it anymore. I had to mention that so my post would make more sense. I need to point out that there are alot of people who have this illegitimate agenda to prevent any sort of success and acclaim for her. They should be aware of spin and it is necessary I warn people about this before they pass judgement on the film. They are bitter about the positive buzz the film is already receiving and are infuriated at the prospect of her receiving an Oscar nomination. You know who has tons of puppets doing her dirty work for her. In fact, what Manohla said was a paradox, it is the woman she is wrongfully supporting and serving who is the mediocre, overrated actress who plays a variation of herself or her persona in every film she is in and who would not have even gotten into the A-list if not for her marriage to a true movie star who she coldly exploited and then destroyed when the tabloids created a convenient and messy circumstance for her to take advantage of that she used to increase her popularity by feeding on the naive public’s pity and playing up whatever fabricated angle the media threw out.
    That woman would not have even been remotely able to pull this kind of role off at all.
    The only great performance she gave was off-screen as this tragic romantic heroine and grand
    victim. Why only has a small minority of people been able to see through her act. I find her to be very transparent. Never bought into any of her false images, never believed she deserved to become America’s Sweetheart, never thought of her as this lovable everywoman, never thought of her as the wondrous girl next door, and certaintly understand that she was not really victimized, mistreated, or wronged in anyway.

    The very fact that Mrs. Dargis made mention of the off-screen Angelina is just indication that she is demonstrating a personal bias. No other celebrity has had to deal with a bias that went out of control like this. Woody Allen is a filthy scumbag who cheated on his wife with his adopted stepdaughter and then left Mia for that
    treacherous whore. The public didn’t seem to let
    emotions coming from morality create any sort of bias against his movies. In fact, I hardly see a any moral response from the public regarding that at all. Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Peter Fonda,Russell Crowe, and etc oddly enough didn’t have to deal with any sort of bias or ongoing backlash. The real scandal mongers get away relatively unscathed while good celebrities who get misportrayed by the corrupt media as scandalous became the targets of an obscene mass hatred and get villifed
    constantly when they did not do anything wrong.
    The same disgust people wrongly feel for Angelina because of their false beliefs, I rightly feel for Russell Crowe because I don’t condone
    adultery. He shamelessly comitted adultery and
    is just an unlikable bastard yet the media & public respects him, even has an affection for him. In fact, I also think he is an overrated actor
    but I don’t let my dislike for him affect my viewpoint on his films and I would not boycott a film just because he is in it. In fact, when I expressed my disapproval of him when that whole scandal was playing out, the reaction I got
    from most people was that I was closed minded and judgemental. Those people even defended him and that sin, they were apathetic to the pain of a true victim like Dennis Quaid. Most of those same people later jumped on the Team Aniston bandwagon. People who lack morals and good judgement connect with other people who lack morals and lack good judgement. It is absurd but a perfect reflection of our twisted society because I know the antagonism is not coming from genuine morality at all but corruption, manipulation, and fraudulence masquerading as virtue and compassion. It is pseudo-morality for a pseudo-victim. The masses rallying behind a
    fake because they find her more relatable so they appear righteous and respectable and the media who has become more deceptive and trashy than ever.

    She gave a heart-wrenching and powerful performance in The Changeling that deserves to be nominated. She brought life, depth, and intensity to Christine Collins which I thought was a weakly written part. She brillantly conveys the tragedy that not just comes from losing a child but the victimization and abuse that she endures from the corrupt police department who rejects her as a neurotic fraud. Her character is thrown into a bizarre situation where she is not even given the opportunity to fully mourn the disappearance of her son. Angelina does a great job of displaying the despair at the right time and showing dignified restraint at the right time. It is also worlds apart from her peformance in Girl, Interrupted. Making a connection to that film because both movies deal with a mental institution is a cheap shot and it is drawing on superficial similiarities. She also did an effective job of conveying the spiritual strength of Marianne Pearl and I think it is disgusting to mock that portrayal which I found deeply moving. A bias or mental block against The Changeling is very destructive
    because it is important for people to connect with the character of Christine Collins so they can feel the essence of the film ,understands its themes, and it appreciates its quality. It will be a crime if she does not receive a Best Actress nomination or if the film does not receive a Best Picture nomination. Even if the film does get nominations in the major categories or even manages to win a couple of awards…the fans of the film won’t be able to completely enjoy the experience of victory because there will be probably be a brutal backlash against the film if it happens. The fans of the film will be mocked.
    I also thought the score of the film was brilliant
    and should receive a nomination also. I thought
    this was a much better film than Mystic River,
    A Million Dollar Baby, or The Bridges of Madison County, or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It would rank as one of Eastwood’s best and it is a modern masterpiece.

  • 2 9-26-2008 at 5:37 pm

    Misha said...

    I apologize for the bad structure of the post and the grammatical errors. What I said was the truth but I know most of the people who read my post will think I am insane.

  • 3 9-26-2008 at 7:18 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Or: perhaps Dargis didn’t find Jolie’s performance all that affecting.

    Seriously, Misha, get a grip.