Tag Archives: the devil wears prada


Warner Bros. head Alan Horn has announced that he plans to follow the Harry Potter movies with more comic book movies. “As we ease out of Harry Potter,” he said, “we hope to bring you the excitement of the DC [comics] Library!” He also announced these pictures will be released in 3D. All of them.

It’s only a matter of time before the other studios follow, and the already widened gap between tentpole films and whatever they call the dying breed – let’s say, sideshow films – is widened even further. In time, expensive technologies like 3D, no matter how beautifully employed, will invariably draw asunder the once-valued populist precepts of glamour, wit, and personality. The reason why is simple: 3D is as fit to convey these invisible qualities as 2D is to contain those of Avatar. To those of us who still had a dream of Hollywood quality, this is indeed unfortunate.

Of course many will be unfazed, or at least claim to be, but how will the creative people of vision and virtue justify their endeavors now? Last night, at Genghis Cohen, my favorite Chinese restaurant, friends of mine, quoting a friend of theirs, said, “To have hope for integrity in show business, one must become delusionally optimistic.” But that was last night. After this news, I would revise that statement to read, “To have hope for integrity in show business, one must become delusional.”

Soon studio pictures will be separated into two genres: boy and girl. Fires & Farts and Clothes & Crushes.

How will grown-up people spend their evenings? You would think Hollywood would be eager to answer that question, for as my field research has proven, there seem to be many older individuals out there wandering around in suede jackets. In fact, just yesterday I saw at least seven balding men at Genghis Cohen alone. Seven! Multiply that by the number of Chinese restaurants in town, or the country, then double it (for wives and girlfriends), and there you have just a sliver of the new paying audience. It may not account for the number of older people who stay home, or those at other restaurants unfriendly to shrimp in lobster sauce, but that’s no excuse. I saw them. They’re out there. I promise millions to the executive who thinks on their entertainment needs.

Unfortunately, as the recent Oscar ceremony confirmed, Hollywood’s interests are as far from producing grown-up product as they’ve ever been. Even Nancy Meyers, who has an ostensible claim to restoring adulthood to the screen, fails, time and again, when it comes to treating her characters as actual people in midlife. Her women cry and pout and moan and take baths; they are, in short, a longer-in-tooth product of genre two, Clothes & Crushes. So you see, even when Hollywood tries to “grow up,” it still must have two feet firmly planted in Dean & Deluca.

Let’s stay with Meryl for a moment. Consider Julie & Julia. Grown up fare? Well, yes and no. Yes: to see Meryl and Tucci, as Mrs. & Mr. Child, so completely revel in each other’s pleasure, culinary and otherwise, was absolutely a moment of hope for the Chinese restaurateurians among us. There we saw a relationship. It was stunning. No: Amy Adams.

We can read Meryl’s recent run of fluffier films since The Devil Wears Prada as sign of a major actress growing her palette, or, in light of the state of Hollywood film, as an if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em play for the audience that really matters the most – the kids.



On Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side

Trying to come to terms with Sandra Bullock’s likely Oscar win, I cleared aside a fat portion of yesterday to have a look, once and for all, at The Blind Side.

Right off the bat, I should say that Bullock clearly understands her part. Though light comedy is her forte, she resists every impulse to needle her way through Leigh Anne Tuohy’s rich, suburban existence, and shows instead a kind of Mary Poppins-ish stiff upper lip, spouting ready-made aphorisms with a cheeky Memphis twang. Her gait is brisk, her delivery clipped, and her face – tighter than ever – tells of a compulsive personality driven by down-to-the-follicle precision. She steps to the edge of camp and turns back:  Tuohy is the sort of lady-who-lunches Truman Capote would have loved, and after a few drinks, the sort Tennessee Williams would have sent shrieking into the night. (Close your eyes and you could see, in another version of The Blind Side, Lee Anne sitting on a porch swathed in moonlight, her negligee torn to shreds.) But Bullock, to her credit, doesn’t go there.

Unfortunately, her director, John Lee Hancock, doesn’t help her any. Without much by way of emotional variation, or choice pieces of business to help refine her characterization, Bullock is left alone to draw from a limited reserve. She comes out okay in the end, but with added attention from Hancock, her Leigh Anne might have trounced the limitations of the material (“You can do it, Mike!”) and perhaps even become her best performance to date, which is still Speed.

Hancock should have had another look at Speed. It might have clued him into a few of Bullock’s strengths, like, for instance, how good she can be when she doesn’t have to mind her manners. You want Sandra Bullock to let her hair down – that’s why all of her romantic heroines either start out prude, or overworked and prude. But when she stays tight, as credible as that tight may be, some of her trademark capriciousness is lost. The Blind Side‘s many “meaningful” speeches only make it harder on her.

Still, she’ll probably win. The Academy, after all, loves a converted comedian (“Look how serious she is! Now that’s acting!”) But a converted tragedian is something else entirely. Just look at Meryl. If only she made The Devil Wears Prada before Sophie’s Choice.