This week – fantasy pinup finds happiness in soft porn (The Notorious Bettie Page), a small screen classic gets a Hollywood makeover (Miami Vice) and the American oil industry crushes its rivals (Who Killed The Electric Car? ).
Brought to us by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho), first up is The Notorious Bettie Page.
As Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian sets out, “50s nude pin-up queen Bettie Page is the subject of Mary Harron's watchable if directionless new movie. Gretchen Mol is excellent as Bettie, the church-going girl from the south who good-naturedly found herself doing naturist and glamour modelling of an increasingly, erm, specialist kind.”
“If it falls short in giving us much insight into the woman beneath the fetish gear and stiletto heels, it at least feels true to the joyful, playful spirit she brought to her poses”, reports Wendy Ide from The Times.
Whatever the contradictions within the film, Anthony Quinn of The Independent agrees that “On the plus side, Mol's smiley, old-fashioned obligingness is irresistibly touching, and the mixture of New York in gorgeous black and white and Miami in lush Technicolor provides, like Mol herself, a sight for sore eyes.”
We think that seems worth it alone.
Next we have Miami Vice, the big screen brother to the classic eighties TV series starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Here, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx take over as Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs in a blockbusting new big screen version described by The Times as “numbingly dull”. Wendy Ide claims to have had affection for the TV series with its “shameless, mindless escapism for a generation raised to revere this most conspicuous demonstration of consumption” but complains that
Michael Mann, the creator of the original series and director of the feature-film version of Miami Vice, seems to take the whole flashy mess very seriously indeed. And if a film this tacky and hackneyed doesn’t invite you to laugh with it, you have no option but to laugh at it instead.
Conversely, Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian gives it four out of five stars, calling it a “bold, powerful and irresistibly thrilling movie”. While he admits that “Many critics have found in Mann's films an excess of macho bluster” he can’t praise the film or the director highly enough, describing Michael Mann as “a heavyweight boxer who talks the talk at the weigh-in and lands the mightiest of punches in the ring”.
The Independent’s Anthony Quinn agrees that
Nobody captures better than Mann the glistening anonymity of the city at night, or frames it with such swaggering precision; he gives a real sense of the city as a character, enfolding its inhabitants in toxic swathes of romance and rot
but shares Ide’s criticisms of the plot, calling it “threadbare”. He concludes that “The movie delivers on the vice, no question; I just thought it might have worn a more cunning disguise”.
The Independent give Who Killed The Electric Car? three out of five stars, calling it a “measured indictment of America's environmental hooliganism”, a “desperately sad story, though not one that looks like shaming America's gas-guzzlers into a U-turn, or even a prolonged sideways skid”.
The Guardian’s Geoffrey McNab doesn’t say much, merely stating that it is “Put together in such a clunky fashion that it mutes its own arguments”.
Ian Johns of The Times sums it up a little better:
Starting out as a partisan tribute to the EV1, the film then indicts, among others, the motor industry, a Bush Government lashed to the oil industry and SUV-loving consumers, for the car’s demise. It’s such a shame that Paine answers his worthwhile question in such a dry and preachy manner.
Didn’t people say the same about Bowling For Columbine at first?
Also out this week: Paper Clips (a middle school in Tennessee start collecting a paperclip for every person killed in the Holocaust), CSA: The Confederate States of America (a satiric romp based on the South winning the Civil War), My Super Ex-Girlfriend (Uma Thurman as superheroine gets her own back on her ex), and The Ant Bully (animated ant comedy starring Nicholas Cage as the ant wizard).
Trailer of the week - Volver