Mystery Fest: Vanilla Sky

2001 mind-warper

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A rich playboy gets involved in a love triangle and has an accident that messes his face all up. Maybe.

This is either a work of incredible genius or the work of a charlatan. I hadn't seen this movie, probably because of Tom Cruise's douche bag face on the poster there. You have to hand it to the guy though. Cruise spends a lot of time doing his action hero thing, but he also involves himself in a lot of more complex projects and roles. His acting in this is all over the place. There are times when he's great, but there are other times when he's overacting. A scene in a club bathroom ("Dude, fix your fucking face.") made me laugh, and that was before he started meowing. And the "What. . .the. . .fuck. . . is happening?" love scene? My thoughts exactly, Tom, and your acting is silly. There were times in this where he reminded me of Tommy Wiseau, and although Tommy Wiseau is one of my favorite people on earth, I'm not trying to be complimentary there. I also find Penelope Cruz annoying ("I'll tell you in another life when we are both cats.") and Cameron Diaz only slightly less annoying. And I don't like Jason Lee at all. However, this isn't a movie that's all about the performances. It's more about the ideas, and Cameron Crowe, playing with this "remix" idea instead of doing a straight remake of Abre Los Ojos (which I haven't seen), has tons of those. He might even have too many of those, like a puzzle that has twice the amount of pieces it's supposed to. As I watched this, I thought there might be too much music as well, but they all seemed to contribute to the puzzle and Crowe's a musical guy. I think I was just jealous that I can't have a hologram John Coltrane at my birthday party. As a big Dylan fan, I did catch the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan cover reconstruction, one of the first clues for me that there was something happening here that Mr. Jones just don't understand. Mr. Jones might claim to understand, but like a lot of great movies, things are open to interpretation. This is definitely one of those movies where everybody's going to bring in their own experiences. This is a movie I'd like to see again, but I think I want to see Abre Los Ojos first. Hopefully, it doesn't have a douche bag in a creepy mask.

I really feel that I half-assed this write-up, but I don't think anybody's reading anyway. I haven't had one guess on the "mystery fest" competition yet. Either nobody cares about winning a pair of Zubaz?


Josh said...

RE: your Mystery Film Fest, I'm an educated guesser, and I have absolutely no education on "Little Fugitive" or "Kids." As for the rest, you've left the field wild open for guesses, and I'm not about to even try and outguess your esoteric, idiotic savantness...

As for "Vanilla Sky," you're right on the money with this film. The acting was simply stupid. If they're not overacting completely (Jason Lee, Tom Cruise), they're delivering their lines like a condom dispenser in a gas station men's room -- rusty and rote. Penelope Cruz behaves as if she's a wet blanket saturated in NyQuil. I think the only two legit actors in this thing were Noah Taylor (who basically had to portray a self-aware hologram...not a stretch, but effective), and Kurt Russell. Russell shows up for work and does his job. At one point, he makes his character's realization more interesting than Cruise's character. Part of the problem also has to do with some bad dialogue, but a great actor can make a bad line interesting. Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin, Jack Nicholson, Ian Holm, Meryl Streep, Matt Damon (the list goes on and on) have all had their fair share of terrible lines, but they do their fucking jobs and make what they have interesting in some way. Hell, I'd pay to see Tommy Wiseau read the god-damn directions on ISTEP to a group of school children, knowing full-and-well that he doesn't even have the first clue what he's even saying. But, if this were just a novel, I think the disjointed and unrealistic writing would come through more clearly.

This movie relies heavily on two things: story and direction. I like what you said about there almost being too many pieces to the puzzle. It's as if the storyteller could have went down so many other rabbit holes in explanation and exposition. It's certainly a big story to tell, and I think Crowe did his damnedest to tell it effectively. That's where the direction comes in. He navigated the plot points pretty effectively. He showed us just enough to help the mystery unfold. And what he did show us, he made memorable and meaningful, so that when it came round again, the audience was able to keep up.

I've never read any of Cameron Crowe's comments regarding this movie and the actors in it. I wonder if he had any issues with the actors and their deliveries. Surely, Cruise's attachment was a must for the studio to produce the movie.

If I were to seriously take a guess on your Mystery Film Fest, I'm gonna say that all of the movies have to do with a common theme...and that theme is "identity"?

Shane said...

I just saw the last line of my write-up. "Either nobody cares about winning a pair of Zubaz?" I'm a notorious non-proofreader, but that one's pretty ridiculous. I'm leaving it because it's as awesome as Tom Cruise's meowing.

You're not right with your guess, but you already know that because I told you while we threw Frisbees around. I just wanted it here so that everybody else would know that those Zubaz are up for grabs. Of course, either nobody cares about winning a pair of Zubaz?

I'd like to see some data on how students perform when Tommy Wiseau proctors standardized tests.

Cruise bought the rights to remake and brought Crowe on board to direct since he liked what he'd done with Jerry Maguire. So there you go.