~ ONE JOURNEY ~
~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Melinda's All Gone Pete Tong ~ Thursday, April 20, 2006
Several nights ago, Tom and I were faced with a minor conundrum. Our movie channels presented two slightly intriguing offerings: a recent Woody Allen effort, "Melinda and Melinda" and a Brit-Canadian mockumentary "It's All Gone Pete Tong."
We ended up watching "Melinda" (I missed the first bit, I'll admit--but got the idea about the premise from what I could hear of it in the kitchen). As a preface to my comments: I've pretty much gone off Woody Allen since "Celebrity". I used to be a fan--I still love the vintage stuff like "Annie Hall" and even "Everyone Says I Love You" was a good laugh. But Branagh playing the requisite Woody Allen character grated heavily on me; I ended up walking out of the film, and haven't really looked back since (the romance had already soured with "Deconstructing Harry" which, aside from the premise, was just barely this side of mediocre, IMHO).
So, with all that, I felt somewhat cautious going into "Melinda." And alas, the caution proved justified. The premise (once again, a clever one, worthy of an Alan Ayckbourn play--just as the premises of so many of Allen's other works have that often-absurdist, PoMo, off-the-wall charm) is that there are two playwrights debating about whether a given story would work better as a comedy or a tragedy.
There are common, sweeping strokes--represented by the eponymous character's appearence as the catalyst in the lives of two different couples. Love triangles ensue, one with a tragic and the other with a comedic outcome. Kind of neat, non?
Alas, despite the fact that the two interlocuters are apparently playwrights, the proponent of the tragic version of the tale rarely strayed from cloyingly trite dialogue and tedious melodrama that left me disengaged and impatient (I think it was meant to be played for laughs with a "wink-wink" and-isn't-this-sooo-over-the-top kind of humour that wore thin after about one scene). In small doses, it's funny, but that sort of thing is difficult to sustain. 'Nuff said.
The comedic component was a recycled Woody Allen standard that was done far more effectively in such classics as "Manhattan"--even "Mighty Aphrodite" at least had the benefit of featuring a Greek Chorus that did song and dance routines of old standards. At any rate--the comedy featured Will Farrel as the Woody Allen figure: married, and lusting after Melinda. His version of Woody Allen was slightly less annoying than Branagh's, but somehow only Allen himself manages to deliver his more obnoxious retorts without being insufferable.
So, both versions were kind of yawners and just reinforced my disinclination to go out of my way to see any of Allen's latest films. Though, I'm told that "Sweet and Lowdown" is pretty good--and having seen Sean Penn in "Mystic River" and "21 Grams", I'd actually be willing to check that one out.
We caught "It's All Gone Pete Tong" a few days later on the NOD (=TMNOD=>The Movie Network On Demand). The premise: a top DJ discovers his hearing is going. The title is Cockney Rhyming slang for "It's all gone wrong." It features some rather good quotes, the standout being "Aside from the obvious example, the music industry has generally been dominated by people who can hear."
Clever, clever. At any rate, though the first act (in which we see DJ Frankie Wilde's life before he discovers his hearing is going) is rather offputting--or was to me, at least. In that sense, it reminded me of "Bad Santa"--where the opening act almost had me turning it off, but I was glad I didn't because I found subsequent bits absolutely hilarious in a really, horribly politically incorrect way. Though I didn't find "Pete Tong" quite as funny as all that, through the second and third acts, it shaped into an engaging, amusing film that was ultimately--and unexpectedly--sweet and rather heartwarming. Again, it hit all the standard turning points along the story arc--but was nonetheless rewarding and likeable. I'd definitely recommend it over "Melinda", if you can manage to get through the first act. ::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 11:58 AM::::