Sunday, September 17, 2006

Signs of Intelligent Life at the Movies

I saw a great movie last night and would highly recommend it to anyone interested. The movie, Little Miss Sunshine, has received excellent reviews, so it's not surprising that I liked it. The writing was outstanding, the characters were deftly sketched and highly individual without being caricatures, and the acting was very, very good.

It lingered with me on the drive home and I realized that what made it stand out from other movies I've seen lately was that it assumed its audience was intelligent enough that it didn't have to underline or explain anything.

Of course, seconds after I realized that, I was immediately depressed to think that giving the audience credit for intelligence is worthy of note.

[Spoilers ahead for anyone who wants to see the movie and has not done so already]

Three things in particular stand out in a movie full of subtleties:

1) the scene in the field after Dwayne has discovered that he is color-blind and that means he cannot fly jets. In the background is a washed-out billboard with a message "United We Stand" at a moment when the family seems completely fractured.

2) near the end, when Olive is faced with the decision whether or not to perform her dance routine, she chooses to do so. That in itself is not worthy of mention. What stands out for me is that the standard Hollywood approach would have included a flashback of her recently deceased grandfather telling her just days before that losers are people who were too afraid to lose to even try to win. It wasn't necessary for the scene, it would have made it maudlin and the audience had already seen him tell her those words, but standard Hollywood would have put it in.

3) The entire "Little Miss Sunshine" pagent is filled with sexed-up preteens, flirting outrageously and suggestively, whirling their bodies, make-up, hair - the whole JonBonet picture. Yet Olive's dance routine, which the viewer realizes with dawning horror is a strip routine, appalls the 'audience' of people attending the pagent.

The movie just presents the hypocrisy, the contrast between sweet, childish Olive's relatively innocent dance and the tarted up preteens 'acceptable' flirting without comment, allowing the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions.

Now only if Hollywood would sit up and take notice.


Post a Comment

<< Home