Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Countdown to Oscar - More Meryl

Out of Africa was my brother's favorite movie of all time. For a long time I felt kinda guilty for not having ever seen it.

Now that I've watched it, I'm reminded why I'd been avoiding it.

As part of my Meryl-Streep-a-thon, I've been watching as many Streep films as I can get, one-at-a-time through NetFlix. I was looking forward to Out of Africa, mostly because I was pleasantly surprised by how "modern" Sophie's Choice seemed. I was in that mode to absorb an epitome-of-an-Oscar-film-film.

Or so I thought.

I really enjoyed the first 45 minutes. I was enraptured by lush landscape and beauty of Streep and Robert Redford. Then I plateaued and forced myself through the remaining hour and fifty-one minutes.

Wow, is it loooooonnnnnnggg.

I mean looooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnggg.

Like I mentioned with Kramer vs Kramer, part of it has to do with an acceleration of culture. Not to be condescending or argue for the hyper-cutting style better. It's just, we as an audience can grasp things more quickly. Or, more accurately, we are growing less tolerant of scenes where characters walk to their cars, get in the car, start and drive the car, get out and walk to where they're going. Unless there is a reason (the audience needs a breather after a tense scene.)

And I was under the impression that it was this great love story. My take (SPOILER ALERT) is, Streep's character gets dumped by her womanizing lover, only to enter into a marriage of convenience (she has money, he has a title) with another womanizer. The guy uses her money to turn what should have been a working farm into a coffee plantation which is doomed from the start. He takes off to God-knows-where right away, leaving her in charge of a whole staff whom she can't really afford, and infects her with syphilis. Eventually, she falls for Robert Redford, another womanizer who comes and goes as he pleases. They have some nice times, and yes he washes her hair, but mostly she's upset with him for not committing and he's upset with her for telling him what to do. Oh yeah, then he dies. And not in some dramatic, deathbed reveal, but in a "by the way, he crashed his plane."

I am glad I did not see this movie while my brother was still alive. I would surely have ruined it for him, much like I try hard to ruin Gandhi and Chariots of Fire.

But, once again, Meryl Streep is brilliant.

Next in the Queue, Falling in Love with Robert Dinero.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, that is pretty much it. But, you forgot about the racism, the poaching, the other characters' slow painful death from disease, the fire, the losing the family fortune, the getting old without a partner and the never being able to have a child.
    Hmmm, but somehow, I really liked it. It was beautiful and sad. It made me cry and cry about the characters and about other things in my own life and times that make me ache with longing and loss.