Saturday, July 03, 2004

"Two Weeks" is Two Hours of Fluff

Two Weeks Notice. (2002). Dir. Marc Lawrence. Perf. Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant, Alicia Witt, Dana Ivey, David Haig.

Two Weeks Notice follows nearly every traditional Hollywood quirk ever invented, from embarrassing confrontations in the men's bathroom to the typical tale of two enemies who work together and then fall in love. Bullock stars as herself, under the alias Lucy Kelson, and George Wade (Grant) portrays the role of a wild playboy caught in the middle of a divorce who suddenly beins to reform after he and Bullock cross paths.

Lawyer Kelson earns a job with Wade's corporation after Wade's elder brother, the CEO, asks for employees with Ivy League degrees. Kelson agrees only because of a deal Wade makes: if she'll take the position, he'll preserve a community center that his company planned to demolish. As Kelson learns that her job description includes far more than legal briefs, she becomes more and more frustrated, finally quitting (twice) with fervor after Wade calls her away from a wedding to help him pick out a suit. It is only when Kelson sees her soon-to-be ex-boss flirting with her replacement that she realizes just how attached she's become. After a striking company party and the requisite Cinderella scene, Kelson leaves, only to learn later that she made far more of an impact than did most of her predecessors.

The absence of depth and intrigue make this a great film for dates, in which more attention is paid to smooches than to the evening's media entertainment. There are a few interesting shots and Bullock looks better with a clown nose than I've ever seen her before, but otherwise the film is worth skipping.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

"Troy" Destroyed by Wooden Script

Troy. Warner Bros, 2004. Dir. Wolfgang Peterson. Perf. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Peter O'Toole, Diane Kruger.

Biting the thumb at traditional Homeric plot, language, and ideologies, Troy manages to present a cinematographically excellent film surrounded by a brilliant score that would have been brilliant as an early-twentieth-century silent film. Unfortunately, characters such as Achilles (Pitt) and Hector (Bana) are hampered by stilted dialogue and shallow motivations, while Paris (Bloom) and Helen (Kruger) manage to drown their scenes in stiff romantic mush. Any semblance of reality in the film stems from its three sex scenes, which have all the drama and intrigue of traditional Hollywood affairs.

The defining performance belongs to Bana, who manages to fill a poorly scripted role with unexpected strength and humanity. Unfortunately, in true epic style, the camera rarely gives viewers close glimpses into Hector's life or passions, so Bana's striking performance remains rough around its edges. Similarly, Hector's character is one of the few who meets a Homeric ending, as David Benioff manages to contort the Iliad nearly beyond recognition into a predictably ahistoric Hollywood ending.

End results? Fans of Homer will be frustrated by the script's extreme liberties, while viewers who have never read the Iliad will be confused by the rapid plot, poorly introduced characters, and generic themes. The cinematography, sound, and film editing are worth watching, but are among the only redeeming aspects of the film overall.