Oscar Watch, continued

Corpse Bride (animated feature)

I probably shoulda seen this one around Halloween, when it was released. Maybe then I would have been in the mood for its Gothic story and goth look. As it was, not so very much. I felt it was a pale imitation of The Nightmare Before Christmas - Burton having a great idea for a story, but not really having fleshed it out perfectly.

Why exactly does Victor need to go back to the world of the living for his wedding to Emily (other than because the plot requires it)? Wouldn't it have made far more sense for him to die, then say his vows in the land of the dead? And why does Emily turn into butterflies at the end? Is that what happens when someone's resolved their unfinished business? So then what's the cab driver's unfinished business? The evil lord's? These plot holes kept me from really enjoying the movie - which is too bad, because it's beautifully executed.

Also, there were, like, three songs. If you're not going to have an entire soundtrack's worth of Danny Elfman tunes, then I say don't bother.

I would describe it as "a good start." If some more time had been spent polishing it, it could've been truly great.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (documentary)

This film did a good job of laying out the downfall of Enron in a way that average people could understand. The filmmakers try to bookend the movie with the suicide of Enron executive Cliff Baxter, but since we never really learn more about him or his role in the scandal, it comes off as the filmmakers searching for extra drama in an already horrifying event. (I was especially unnerved by the movie's opening, a dramatization of Baxter's suicide. I'm a documentary purist; I think all the footage should be real.)

Personally, I would have focused less on Baxter and more on the employees who thought they were working for the most successful energy company in the world, then suddenly found out they were jobless and their pension funds were worthless. There's a point in the movie when we see Enron execs on stage taking questions from the employees of a recently-acquired power company. One of the questions is, "Should my 401K be in Enron stock?" The execs (who were already starting to sell their own stock) laughed and said of course, and my heart sank as I imagined my own 401K disappearing, just like that.

In short, I think Enron is an important movie that people should watch to gain a better understanding of the scandal ... but I don't care for it as a documentary. There are too many distracting musical choices and quick cuts to random guys jumping out of planes to symbolize the "dangerous games" being played by executives. It winds up feeling a little like a VH1 "Behind the Music" piece. For the Oscar, right now I prefer March of the Penguins. Its subject matter might be less hard-hitting, but with its 100-percent-real footage and simple narration and music, it's the better documentary. (Maybe that opinion will change if I see Murderball.)

1 comment:

AE said...

I loved The Corpse Bride, but agreed it felt slightly unfinished. All his movies have that quality, though, I think. It's like he can't quite make that leap beyond "it looks cool" to "it makes sense." He's apparently satisfied that she turns into butterflies, but what does it mean?

The scene where the little kid recognizes his grandpa among the living dead was just the sweetest thing ever, though.