The post title is misleading. When Nice Work is disciplining his figure he does not go to the movies where the temptation of buttered popcorn resides. No, Nice Work sits instead with his iPod and views a movie in the relative caloric safety of his home. Yesterday we viewed Vantage Point.
The critics were really hard on this film. They should have been kinder. It’s a perfectly good mystery, thriller, car-chase, shoot-em-up. Maybe the professional movie watchers — Where they Royal Food Tasters in past lives? — sat down with their X-large tubs expecting The Day of the Jackal. Instead they got an MTV mash-up of Black Sunday and JFK. That is: relentless soundtrack, trick editing, more people shot dead than in the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan, and an impossibly complex assassination plot. I can see how the critics might have felt let down, but I expected nothing and got a swell, twisty-plotted actioner. I give it a couple of handfuls of Dayglo™ stars.
In the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard gives the leader of a troop of actors a speech in which he declares that what actors love to do more than anything is die. It’s a funny speech, but it’s dead wrong. What actors love to do more than anything is to convey the moment of understanding. Great actors do it great; a little light comes on in their eyes; their posture becomes a teensy bit more erect or stooped, depending on the nature of their insight. Regular actors do it horror movie style, like a freight train is about to hit them in the next nanosecond.
The switching on of the light can be funny, as in the final scenes in Tom Jones, when Albert Finney shows Tom going quickly — 1, 2, 3. — through his stages of taking in the news that he can marry Sophie. It can be chilling as in Alfie, when Michael Caine shows how Alfie, for just a moment, understands how awful he is. It can be somewhere in between: Audrey Tatou does a perfect “dawning realization” take in Priceless, when the true nature of her new boyfriend is revealed. (She thought he was a rich guy. He’s not.)
Anyways, the OMG moment (or WTF moment in R-rated films) is demonstrated again and again and again in Vantage Point. See the graphic above: all those shots where taken from the trailer. I could have made a montage of fifty of them if I hadn’t put the rental movie on my iPod and watched it instead on my computer. The characters are gob-smacked more than can be good for their mental and physical health. Multiple assassinations and suicide bombers can do that to you. Depending on your attitude, the repeated “Hokey Smoke, Rocky!” close-ups can be annoying or entertaining. I chose to be entertained, and I was.