Thursday, December 28, 2006

If I Saw Judi Dench on the Street, I Would Cover My Down There Parts and Run.

4 stars.
What? 4 stars? Emma, you NEVER give ANYTHING 4 stars. Ah, tis true. It literally happens less than once a year. The Post gave about 10 or 15 of them this year. I'm not about that. 4 stars is supposed to mean as close to perfection as you humanly can get, and I don't think you should be overly generous with such bestowments. However, you give credit where it's due, and it's definitely deserved here - to the point where I have officially forgiven Cate Blanchett for stealing an Oscar from Natalie Portman two years ago. Yes, she was good enough that I voluntarily dissolved the feud that has consumed my soul since February of 2005. I know. Intense. But Natalie is totally going to win one, unless she chooses to have her career highlight in the same year Charlize gets raped in a movie for the umpteenth time.

We forgive, but you still should not be rewarded for impersonating people. Especially Hepdawg.

If you will recall, I mentioned this movie in passing in my review for Babel. Devra and I saw a preview for it and were completely blown away because it looked like a hybrid of The Mary Kay Letourneau Story, Brokeback Mountain and Hush. Now, the Hush aspect WAS there, but not nearly enough to warrant my premature conclusion that it represented a third of the film's genetic makeup. Pretend I said Harriet the Spy, because the destruction Judi Dench wreaks on Cate Blanchett is much more emotional and hinges on written personal thoughts than on any actual physical damage.

If Rosie was Harriet. And 80. Shiver.

First, the Mary Kay aspect. Cate Blanchett has an affair with a high school student with way too many freckles, wolf eyes and the sexiest Irish accent known to man. When Drunk Erin and I saw this with other creatures at the free screening on Wednesday, you could almost feel the audience becoming more receptive and lusting for this Balto lookalike after getting used to his strange features. By the time he's prancing around Cate's artistic hovel naked with an elf hat on, audible murmurs of sexual attraction were swarming around the theater - and most of the people in there were Judi Dench's age. Speaking of age, it turns out the kid is actually 16 in real life. I am officially old. And kind of a pervert, I think.

If this kid came up to you and said, "You smell like cat feces," you would get hot and bothered because Irish accents make everything okay.

Now, the Brokeback theme actually is more dominant than the Mary Kay storyline, as difficult as that is to believe/see. The entire premise for the movie is that Judi Dench is hardcore in love with Cate Blanchett, so a healthy chunk of the film is devoted to Judi's roving eyes sweeping up and down Cate's body. I'm not even kidding. I suppose the Harriet the Spy concept is sort of intertwined with Brokeback, since Judi's diary is just full of crazy (though suprisingly well-written) shizzle about manipulating women and doting over a perfectly cast Maine Coon cat.

Supporting Actress nom?

This is Judi Dench's movie. I haven't seen a character this repulsive and fascinating since the pig carcass in Lord of the Flies. Everything she does is cold, calculated and designed for a future sapphic encounter that you keep praying will never happen. On one hand, you sort of feel bad for her because she literally has no one to talk to except a journal and a dying long-haired cat, neither of which can offer any barely-closested geriatric lesbian advice. However, two-thirds of the way in, it's pretty easy to see why Judi Dench only has feline companionship, and not the sexual euphemism kind. She's a total cunt and appears to be a creepily altered version of Kevin Kline in Sophie's Choice, minus the domestic violence, schizophrenia, and taking advantage of emotionally destroyed Holocaust victims. Her version of love involves doing a weird stroking thing with Cate Blanchett's forearms, blackmailing Cate into spending time with her, watching her take a dump, and then writing about it. (Yes, somehow, Cate has made back-to-back movies involving embarassing bathroom moments. At least this time she didn't have Brad Pitt's pee-stained paw stroking her cheek.)

Generally speaking, when you review a movie, the first thing you try to think about are the weaknesses. Simply put, there aren't any here. Judi and Cate are absolutely stellar, and the supporting cast is just as good. The writing is incredibly witty and intelligent, and no one knows how to deliver pithy, dry bombs like Dench. There was a line Judi uttered towards the end of the movie about Judas and the Book of Matthew that had Erin and I gaping at each other. (The essence escapes me, but if someone sees it and emails me the quote, I will totally give them 3 cents and an official acknowledgement.) Patrick Marber's Golden Globe nomination for the screenplay is well deserved, and expect Philip Glass to get an Oscar nomination for the score.
The one universal complaint that I hear about Notes is that it's uncomfortable. I'm not sure if that's something legitimate you can complain about, because any rational person should go into this movie knowing the basic elements in play. Yes, there's older woman/nubile boy sex, aethetically unappealing sexual desires and Blanchett poo, but with the exception of the latter incident, you should know all of that going in. Therefore, consider this your warning. If you do not like Maine coon cats or Balto-eyed Irish boys having nookie with Cate Blanchett, don't you dare go see this and then claim you were uncomfortable.

"Judi, stop using me as a manipulation tactic for your sordid poon games!"


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