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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Kong. Also, BPAL (Blood Pearl)

This is a movie that missed shattering brilliance by about this much. There's so much it gets right--Serkis' "realistic" Kong is perfection, the relationship between Darrow and Kong is wonderful, and the thematic elements come together in very nice ways, and Jackson finds ways to point them up and interlace the threads and make this a movie about Carl Denham's final and absolute fall as much as it is a movie about Ann Darrow's fierceness. There's so much to love here thematically, so many little threads that wind back around and come out to be different shadows cast by the same light.

That's lovely.

Lovely too is the soundtrack, both in the moments when it's nearly subliminal, and those when it's fiercely meta. And more than lovely is Andy Serkis, and the Kong animation team. They deserve several Academy awards for that work.

There's a wonderful, masterful bit of cinematographic storytelling when Our Heroes (and Villains) are on the tramp steamer, and a few weeks are elided into a few minutes of screen time. It's beautifully done, directorial and editorial sleight of hand so slick that you never even realize what a tricky bit of screencraft just got passed under your nose--which is just as it should be--and Jackson juggles three major and a few minor plot threads through that bit of film as smoothly as Ann's vaudeville juggling act. Bravo, Mr. Jackson.

Also, the fight with the bugs and lampreys is one of the great OMG they're gonna die moments of cinema history. As one of my co-viewers said, "At that point, even the score has abandoned them."

Then there's the technical difficulties. Some of the blue screening is a little, um, icky. Or perhaps a better word would be kludged. Some of the action scenes demand one's disbelief be not so much suspended as hung by the neck until dead, and I'm pretty sure Ms. Darrow would have succumbed to Shaken Actress Syndrome.

I mostly loved the cast, especially the romantic lead. (I won't spoiler that. You all know the monkey dies, though, right?)

Those are minor points.

Of more concern is a somewhat limping narrative in the middle third of the movie--the tramp steamer works just fine, if the pace is stately, and the New York scenes are fast-paced and shiny. Alas, Skull Island is just Skull Island for a bit tooooo long. I will, however, admit that I closed my eyes during the lamprey scene. Ew ew ew ew ew ew.

I have not actually closed my eyes during a movie since I was completely creeped out by Alien when I saw it way, way too young.

There was some directorial heavyhandedness--I loved the meta (I'm a meta girl) of the line "This isn't an adventure story, is it?" But it didn't need an answer. Just a look. Trust the audience a bit more, Peter. We get it. You also don't need to linger on Ms. Darrow's dewy eyes quite so much. The girl can act. Let her. She doesn't need the directorial assist as much as, say, Liv Tyler.

Also, I felt the movie's iconic final line fell a little flat. It should evoke echoes of both the Heart of Darkness subplot and Denham's earlier comment--"and from that day, he was as one dead."

Because of course, Denham's as dead as Kong. And he didn't die as beautifully.

Despite all those flaws, I leave you with this. It's a movie about a twenty-five foot gorilla. And it's art. It's not a staggering work of heartbreaking genius, mind you--but it is, in fact, art.

It's just maybe trying a little too hard to make up for the gorilla.

BPAL Description:

Lustrous, sanguine, soft and lavish: soft orris, blood musk, and coconut.

My Notes:

Vial: Orris and musk, musk and orris.

Wet: It converts into musk and coconut on contact. The combination, incidentally, smells a good deal like copal. I'm one of the weird people who likes copal.

Drydown: the orris is back, along with the musk. Kind of aggressively.

Dry: Kind of a nice sweet musky suntan oil kind of scent.


A friend of mine said it would have completely made his movie-going experience if Kong flung some poo. I probably won't get to see it until it comes out on DVD. Or I hire a babysitter for hubby and I to go on a movie-seeing spree.
Yeah, I dare you to do better at four AM after having been up since 5 am on the previous day. *g*

Ahhh Mr. Serkis

So... anybody catch him a while ago when he was on NPR one Sunday morning?

Threatened to do a Gollum/Smeagol "Sound of Music" road show.

The interviewer even got him to sing a bit of "Climb Every Mountain" as Gollum... all before 9:00 AM, live... sigh...

A true talent he is.

Re: Ahhh Mr. Serkis

Really. And it's not like the ape needs making up for. He's the best thing about the movie.

One of the reason I liked Jackson's LotR so much is that it never feels the need to apologize for being a fantasy movie. Alas, I think the 25-foot-monkey seemed to need some shoring up in ways that dwarves and elves maybe didn't. And the THEME HAMMER got deployed a little heavily.

Re: Ahhh Mr. Serkis

Now that you've seen it, did you read my very spoilery review? We noticed pretty much the same things, though I was much less impressed overall. I think he jumped the shark.

Brokeback Mountain, OTOH, made me admire Ang Lee as none of his other movies have done.

Re: Ahhh Mr. Serkis

I did see your review. And I can see how you arrived at them, but I pretty much disagree with your conclusions completely. (alas!) I think it was a flawed movie that overall worked, and which could have been a *really* wonderful movie with a little bit more money and a little more self-restraint.

Brokeback Mountain isn't open here yet--if we ever get it.

Re: Ahhh Mr. Serkis

Saw Brokeback the same way I saw Kong...press screeners. I don't know if it's open here yet either.

Self-restraint would have been helpful in Kong, yes.

You're not allowed to disagree with me. We can't be friends if we don't agree on everything 100%. Oh, wait...we're not 13. *grin*

Re: Ahhh Mr. Serkis



Re: Ahhh Mr. Serkis

I should caveat what I said: I'm a viewer who much prefers an ambitious failure to a safe success. So while Narnia was a more successful movie, the fact that it's incredibly conservative in all its choices makes it, to me, a less interesting movie than this one, which grabs widely and reaches BIG and misses it by that much.

You get more points for a difficult routine, even if you tank the dismount.

Re: Ahhh Mr. Serkis


Somebody has a line about how if you aim for the moon, you might at least get to the roof, and yeah. What they said.

Or, in one of my few moments of agreement with Henry James: Let us be flexible, dear Grace, let us be flexible! And even if we don't reach the sun, we shall at least have been up in a balloon.

Re: Ahhh Mr. Serkis

OMG. That inspired me to look for it in the NPR archives.

I found it: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1603751

I'm terribly amused to discover the sound of Gollum was inspired by a cat hurking up a hairball. [And when he demonstrated, that got Boopsie's attention!]
There ain't nothin' wrong with copal! Man, I love that stuff.

Patchouli, though...words escape me to try and explain the displeasure I feel whenever I get a whiff of patchouli oil. Fresh patchouli: good! Patchouli oil: bad! Blasted hippies.

My first BPAL order should be arriving this week. Which is good, seeing as I ordered it two months ago....
Okay - if you put one of these on and discover you hate it, how hard is it to scrub off?

I never wear scents. In fact, they're forbidden at the hospital anyhow. Once or twice a year I use the all-natural rose-scented solid perfume I bought years ago, and that's pretty much it for me and deliberate body odor. And yet, these reviews are fascinating. I find myslef reluctantly intrigrued, especially by the changes.

But I get sort of frantic and near-hysterical if I have a scent on me that I don't like and can't get off. It's a quirk, what can I say. So - does soap and water do it? Alcohol? Prayer?
Nothing ever lasts on me, scentwise, so I have no idea. It comes off with soap and water, or, otherwise, much faster than I want it to.


So I'm curious...

The remake restores some scenes that were cut from the original movie, right? So did it also restore typical simian behavior in captivity?

You know what I'm talkin' 'bout. Did King Kong fling his gigantic poop or tug at his enormous banana?

Re: Okay...

*g* you need a hobby.

It's A Guy Thing...

Apes behave badly, caged or uncaged. If Kong doesn't act like an ape and at least fling his poo... then he's just a CGI ape. Alas, the dream is broken.

Besides which, seeing Andy Sirkis throwing fake poop in the DVD extras would be really, really funny.

Re: It's A Guy Thing...

I'm familiar with great ape poo-throwing behavior. You see a lot of it on the Internet.
I think where the poop throwing could've been included and was missed was in the opening scenes at the zoo... at least Chris Golden coulda included it in the novelization, ya know? ;)

I agree with you that this was a far more satisfying experience than LWW, and that while it wasn't perfect, it was well done. There were occasional moments in the score that bothered me, though. Like when Anne is first stepping on the boat ... to me the music seemed to suggest "will she or won't she?" not "this is a significant step." Which was silly, because everyone in the audience knew she was getting on the boat!
Hmm. Ask me to do it cold, weeks later, why don't you?

Okay, essentially, there's this whole thing about beauty and the beast wound through it, including the lines Jack Black quotes--and to me, anyway, one of the thematic things that happens in the book is that his character *becomes* the beast. IE, him, and not Kong.