Tuesday, March 9

The mild side.



. . . Which brings me to the two truest, most brilliant, spot-on paragraphs I have seen written about American cinema in eons, courtesy of you-know-who and you-know-who's BFF:

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

LIVIA:
Oh, Sandra. I really don't know what to say about this nomination. You have brought me so much joy over the years, beginning with your bizarrely compelling performance across from a never-creepier Bill Pullman in While You Were Sleeping. You are glorious, and to be honest, I love you a little. However. That does not mean I will be endorsing you for Oscar gold. If they gave out Oscars for dyeing your hair blonde and acting like a bitch at football games, three ladies on my block would be Academy voters. Color me unimpressed.
NASTINCHKA: This is the only remotely relevant section in which I can point out that the Tuohy's real-life daughter is eons prettier than that tramp-stamped little minx they put in the movie. Who de-hots an Ole Miss cheerleader for filming purposes? If they were going to get one thing right about this festering delta puddle of an adaptation, that one seemed like easy money.


I'll confess right now that I somehow still have not managed to see "The Blind Side," but I did devour the book -- whose author, outrageously, didn't get mentioned once on Sunday night -- and I've seen enough clips and promos of the film adaptation to be confident I got the better end of the deal on that one.

So anyway, all I'll say about Sandra Bullock's Oscar win is this: Not having seen any of the five films to receive Best Actress nominations, I can't say where Bullock's acting job should rank among them. My beef is that she got nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role to begin with. Had they filmed Michael Lewis's book completely accurately, Bullock's character of Leigh Anne Tuohy would only have been eligible for the Best Supporting Actress category. She plays an important role in Michael Oher's awe-inspiring transformation, to be sure, but the story isn't about her; it's about Michael Oher. Flipping the script to give Bullock a shot at a bravura leading performance basically turns the whole deal into Very Very Special White Lady Saves Minority Youth, and I think that trivializes the amazing story of what both Oher and the Tuohys accomplished.

Did race play into that decision at all? Ergh, I'm not going near that can of worms. Not knowing any of the filmmakers, I'm not qualified to say whether turning "The Blind Side" into Very Special White Lady Story was a product of any racial condescension on their part. But whatever the motivation, it sure seems like it made for a less interesting movie.

And no, I can't imagine a reason why they would've had anyone but the Tuohy's actual daughter in the Collins Tuohy role. As cinematic mysteries go, that's right up there with Rosebud.

7 comments:

Universal Remonster said...

As someone who read the book as well, the film isn't a disaster as compared to many other literature to film adaptations, but it certainly isn't flawless either. I can say that Bullock inhabits the role pretty convincingly, and as a film overall it's not badly structured. It's essentially an overdramatization akin to "Remember the Titans." But no one was fooled that Bullock won because "people like her." Carey Mulligan was far and away the best actress nominated for her respective role, and that's saying something when you're up against Streep.

Also, I'd like to thank the gods that Avatar didn't win best picture. Thank you thank you thank you.

Ollllddude said...

Oh come on, Doug, you of all people should know that movies are not made to be faithful to the book. They are made to make money. If they can do that in an artful way, so much the better, but that is why the story was flipped to make Bullock the star: she is very marketable to both men and women, and most age groups. And the idea of taking a basic theme and reworking it to make something new is a time honored technique in almost all art. Copland took s simple Shaker tune and made a symphony out of it. There are literally hundreds of religious paintings/sculptures/frescoes that use the same basic idea, but each interpretation is slightly different. If the Tuohys and Oher are fine with the movie, what do you care?

I have no explanation about the daughter, unless she just didn't want to pay SAG dues. Or maybe she can't act, I don't know.

Holly said...

The crucial difference here is that Appalachian Spring is awesome.

The Auburner said...

I've somehow managed not to read the book yet, but I've seen its cover enough times to know that it's probably not worth reading.

Doug said...

Ollllddude: Yeah, I know, and I've seen enough of my favorite books butchered on celluloid that I probably shouldn't have gotten my hopes up for The Blind Side. I guess I thought that Oher's story was amazing enough on its own that it wouldn't need any HOLLYWOOD MAGIC! to make it a marketable film. When I first posted my uneasy feelings about the film adaptation last summer, some people pointed out that the Sandra-Bullock-izing of the story was probably intended to make what was basically a football movie palatable to female audiences, which on its face is I guess a solid business decision -- but it's also kind of insulting to the considerable population of females who like football (I can think of one in particular). Like, "Oh, no, this isn't some big dirty football film. It's got chick-flick sensibility too!"

But again, it's Hollywood, so . . . whatever. In times like this I always think back to Kristen Wiig's line from "Knocked Up": "This is Hollywood. We don't like liars."

Josh M. said...

The only culla' that matters is greeeeeeen, bitches.

Paul said...

Doug, I recommend picking up James Baldwin's "The Devil Finds Work". You aren't opening a can of worms he pretty much opened, spilled on the concrete and watched fry in the hot August sun. Knowing your politics, you'll love it.

Also, how funny is it that Sandra wins for her role as, in part, a former Ole Miss cheerleader when she played the third wheel to Ashley Judd's Ole Miss cheerleader in "A Time to Kill"? Or maybe it's not funny at all. I just wanted to throw the image of a hot, sweaty and blonde Ashley Judd out there for mental consumption.