Monday, November 16, 2009

amelia vanishes in new movie


amelia earhart famously disappeared in the middle of her round-the-world flight and half way through the new amelia movie, i was hoping it would likewise disappear. it's a sickly, thin movie populated by exactly one real person, and a handful of cartoons.

i was looking forward to it - amelia (not exactly as illustrated) is an intriguing pioneer of aviation and feminism and i saw some of the movie being filmed in halifax a couple of years ago - but the movie has been so badly focus-grouped that nothing of her survives. a couple of men snicker at her flying ambitions early on, but she soon shows them - and after that, everyone seems to think it perfectly ordinary for a woman to do what she does. she marries a womanly richard gere, who happily plays second-fiddle to his celebrity globe-trotting wife. she has a high-profile affair with gore vidal's father, and makes no effort to hide it, and gere as her husband just has a good cry and gets over it.

how do we know he is hurting? he breaks out the crystal decanter and throws back some hard drinks. how do we know they've moved past their troubles? he shucks his perma-suit for beige khakis and a white shirt - both rolled up, of course - and they frolic in the waves and sunlight on a beach.

then he invites her paramour over for dinner.

this role-reversal for the times would be fascinating to explore, if that had occurred to anyone involved in the movie, but no. they live in their own fabricated world, untroubled by reality.

hilary swank does a nice madame tussauds's impression of earhart, complete with a goofy kansas accent, but provides less humanity than a clump of wax. what drives her to fly? what makes her bold enough to live a 'man's' life in a man's world? why did she keep risking her life to make those incredible journeys?

who knows?

all we get for motivators is a cheesy scene of young amelia running through cornfields, gazing up at planes. her drunken, abusive father is air-brushed out. as for time-placers, they use an olde voice-over on top of faux black-and-white scenes to dimly remind you it's the roaring 20s. the depression shows up for about 7 seconds, as wealthy amelia motors past a line of starving people lining up at the soup kitchen. she sighs, wonders what it all means, then hops back in her plane to inspire the nation.

at the end, she makes 'tense amelia' faces as the plane.... vanishes. the film-makers skip all the wild stories that have her variously landing on a scrap of land with her navigator and turning up as bones years later, or executed by japan as war spies, or even just hitting the water as they run out of fuel. the movie just stops.

why does hollywood insist on producing this Sheen Cinema? everything is a glossy magazine, with all the interesting flaws removed. who wants to watch this polished garbage?

the only decent turn in amelia is christopher eccleston as navigator fred noonan, who vanishes with her. he's lumped with a caricature role as the good-hearted drunk (there are a lot of drunk men in this movie, though not her father), but he chucks it overboard and turns in a convincing piece - much as he did as the dangerous general near the end of 28 days later.

amelia earhart has fascinated people for almost 100 years now, fueled by her perplexing vanishing act. dozens of people have spent millions of dollars looking for her - they can skip this film, because she's not here.
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