It was clear by the opening credits—a pastel cornucopia of fonts you might find on a PTA meeting flyer—that this movie was going to be too much Tyler Perry, not enough Ntozake Shange. It was even more clear by the rape scene intercut with shots of an upbeat opera. I can’t look away from the tonal and moral car wreck that is seemingly* Tyler Perry’s aesthetic, but AK can. And that night I could too because I was falling asleep. I wanted to have a strong opinion about the fact that the movie’s resident slut was clearly going to get a comeuppance or that Janet Jackson’s husband was heading in some kind of trite down-low direction, but I was too tired. We finished our sodas and left.
The great thing about the ArcLight is that they’ll refund your money if you walk out of a movie, no questions asked. I guess that’s what we pay the extra, like, $5 a ticket for. It’s refund insurance.
In the name of using our vouchers (except not really, because we ended up getting tickets online), we met Pedro and Stephen back at the ArcLight on Sunday to see 127 Hours. My interests are actually more up Tyler Perry’s alley: I like meaty moral questions and human drama. True story or not, there was nothing particularly appealing to me about watching a guy spend five days alone in the desert, trapped beneath a rock, and (barely a spoiler alert-->) chop off his own arm. As I told Jamie this morning, I thought the arc of the movie would go: boring, boring, boring, gory.
But I also knew that Danny Boyle knew what he was up against, and probably wouldn’t have made the movie if he didn’t have some good ideas. Just as Tyler Perry substitutes eight million storylines for actual storytelling ability, Boyle knows his story only has like two plot points, so he better have some kickass internal drama and crazy shots of the interior of an arm. It turns out he does, and the movie is, yes, gory, but good (and a teensy bit schmaltzy at the end, but it’s well earned schmaltz). Never boring. A lovely testament to people who need people.
Early on, James Franco’s daredevil character scampers up some mildly steep rocks. Next to me, I heard AK audibly gasp. She doesn’t even like the stairs at Dodger Stadium, and would never see the point of doing anything other than grocery shopping alone. “I’m the anti-Aron Ralston,” she said. And we all agreed that if any of us had been in his situation, we just would have died, movie over.
Speaking of storytelling, Wednesday night I’ll be moderating a panel for the New Short Fiction Series, the long-running series that casts local actors to read shorts by L.A. writers. I’ve been reading the work of the four writers featured, and it’s good stuff. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by!
What: The New Short Fiction Series and KPCC's Crawford Family Forum present An Evening of Emerging Voices
When: Nov. 17, 7:30-9 p.m.
Where: The Crawford Family Forum, 474 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105
Featuring fiction by: Jenna Blough, Luis Garcia Romero, Dana Johnson and Tommy Kim
Starring: Matt Ferrucci, Judy T. Marcelline, Donny Yoon and Sally Shore
Admission: FREE, but please RSVP here.
*Okay, so I’ve only seen one and a half Tyler Perry movies. If there’s a really good one in there somewhere (I Can Do Bad All by Myself?), let me know.