Saturday, July 4, 2009

Little Ashes Does Not Dazzle

Another spectacular sunny day in Vancity. So of course I drag my pasty freckly self to the dark air conditioned comfort of the movies. This is one flick I have been waiting a while to see (for reasons that are pretty obvious) and also one that I do not think will be in cinemas for very long.

Set during a period of extreme unrest in pre-Civil War Spain, Little Ashes is the story of the friendship between artist Salvador Dali (Robert Pattinson), writer Frederico Garcia Lorca (Javier Beltran) and filmmaker Luis Brunuel (Matthew McNulty). I freely admit to knowing very little about the history or works of these artists or the period in which the film was set. I fear that this lack of knowledge may cloud my opinion of the movie, which seemed to assume that the audience had more than a basic understanding of this period in Spanish history.

This was made before Pattinson's star making turn in Twilight, and I am sure that this movie will be seen by Twi-hards everywhere who will demand that Robert receives every award under the sun for this performance. But while he does look pretty on film, his performance was kind of Meh for me. He was okay. I think he only scratched the surface of the oddity that was Salvador Dali. I found all of the performances kind of meh. Not bad, but not good either. It was partly the script, partly the accents (would have been better in Spanish, but I know that would have alienated even further a potential audience) and partly the disjointed direction given to the young and pretty cast.
The setting was beautiful, lots of cobbled streets and sweeping vistas, and the costuming was solid, but over all the film felt pretty flat to me. The movie doesn't really give you enough of a reason as to why Lorca falls for Dali, and Lorca's involvement in the anti-Franco movement (which apparently led to his death) is completely glossed over and only brought up in the last 10 minutes of the movie. It is is as the filmmakers wanted to find a way to end the movie on a big note and that is what they come up with.
Little Ashes tries very hard to be a film about lots of things: the wacky crazy artists of Spain in the 1920's pre Civil War Spain and all the crazy wacky things they did, homophobia and repressed homosexuality amongst said crazy wacky artists, the crazy wacky artists involvement in the anti-Franco movement, Dali's increasing crazy wackiness as he becomes more and more famous just to name a few. Sadly I found that the film glosses over all of these stories and leaves you wondering what the heck just happened. This was a miss for me.
One good thing though was that Robert Pattinson didn't totally suck so I am hopeful that he will be capable of a lot more than being all broody and dazzling if he is given better material and direction.
I finally read the script that I have for "Remember Me" - back when it was called "Memoirs" so there have likely been substantial changes. I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised. The character of Tyler is very interesting and deals with a lot of heavy heavy stuff. I hope that Rob does it justice. And just because he is so pretty, here are some snaps of Rob and the rest of the cast filming in NYC a few days ago. These are the first images I have seen of the fabulous Chris Cooper on set - he is playing Ally's (Emilie de Ravin) father. And as an extra bonus, see the crazy he has to deal with. The number of fans watching his every move? Ugh.


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