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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was so awful, it's a shoo-in for Best Picture. I haven't seen
pretentious crap like this since American Beauty. I had the same thought
after that movie too.
To hear Gloria Steinem tell it in her L.A. Times review, this is the greatest movie ever. From a twisted feminist perspective it might be. Virginia Woolf chooses suicide over a suffocating marriage. The movie suggests the Victorian times did not allow her to live her true lesbian desires. The fact of the matter is that Woolf was severely mentally ill. She was no heroine. She was a very sick woman.
Laura leaves her seemingly idyllic life, again, perhaps, for being stifled from her lesbian leanings. She leaves her nice-guy husband and children, without explanation, to "find herself." Though Steinem calls that a heroine, I believe a more apt description is cold-hearted bitch. Sh*t, marriage is hard sometimes; we don't leave when we're feeling a little blue. Just try and imagine making a movie with a man abandoning his family and trying to put that in a positive light.
And our third heroine, Clarissa, a -surprise!- lesbian is finally free when Richard commits suicide. Men just get in women's way.
Any wonder why someone like Gloria Steinem would love this feminist claptrap? Absolute garbage.
When first I saw the posters for the movie THE HOURS, I said that Nicole
Kidman will be nominated for several awards on the basis of her accent
putting on a fake nose. Sometimes it sucks to be right.
The movie centers around three self-indulgent, spoiled, emotionally unstable women who sigh every three to four minutes while pondering suicide. Cheery, huh? Why the movie was not called THE SIGHING, or HEY LOOK AT MY FAKE NOSE AND IGNORE MY BAD ACTING, or simply, JUST KILL YOURSELF ALREADY, I can only imagine had to do with the 13 hour plus running time.
First, a note about the music. The film is scored by minimalist composer, Phillip Glass. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy listening to the same three notes played over and over again on a synthesizer. I find it relaxing, when at home, to put on a Phillip Glass CD and stare into the barrel of a loaded gun while pondering the meaninglessness of existence. However, during the movie I kept wondering when one of the characters was going to say, open a closet door, and find Phillip Glass playing the organ and bludgeon him to death with her shoe. Unfortunately, it never happened. Instead these poor 3 women were forced to have every moment of their lives accompanied by the same relentless repetition of notes. Frankly, I can't blame them for wanting to kill themselves. Anything to make the music stop.
The only way to have a scene between Merryl Streep and Richard Harris not work, would be to have a bad script. Not just a bad script, but a truly awful, phony, wannabe-artsy, pseudo-intellectual, piece of pretentious Hollywood garbage. The theme of the movie, I think, was `Sometimes people have to die in order that other people can appreciate their lives'. The only reason I know that is that Nicole Kidman, I mean, Virginia Wolfe, said that. Talk about pasted on. THE PIANIST, on the other hand, illustrated its themes without ever having to come out and say them. And Adrien Brody's nose is real.
In summary, THE HOURS, is a story about 3 bourgeois women, living in different time-frames, who are in good health and have everything they could possibly want or need. However, because `happiness' is impermanent and momentary, they become depressed and ruin it for everyone else. This movie is clearly the work of a sadist. If you or someone you love are considering seeing this movie, please, don't do it. It may not seem like it at the time, but there are always other options.
"The Hours" (and I suppose the book on which it is based, although I haven't read it and don't much want to), reduces the vigor and complexity of Woolf's novel to some paean to self-pitying "feelings" about, oh, you know, time, life, all that stuff we're supposed to think is "universal." How about Woolf's meditations on war, gender, and violence in _Mrs. Dalloway_ and the facts (whatever one makes of them) that she was sexually molested as a child, that her suicide took place during another war, and that she and Leonard were on the Gestapo's hit list? Stripping away all the actual material facts of people's lives and times leaves all this relentless emphasis on their supposed "feelings" simply meaningless and manipulative. It's also extremely irritating to have the artist Vanessa Bell reduced to some fluttering mother hen looking with incomprehension at her dotty genius sister Virginia, and to have the real erotic memory at the core of _Mrs Dalloway_, the kiss with Sally, switched to a kiss with Richard, and Sally reduced to the dull spousal role that is Richard's in the novel. But even as a film taken on its own terms this was overdesigned and stupidly pretentious.
This is just about the worst piece of cinematic dreck that has disgraced the silver screens in - at the very least - ten years, an abhorrent accumulation of the most atrocious clichés regarding artists, artistry and everything to do with it, a preciously pretentious piece of whiny tripe, a sugar-coated soaper in disguise with a lemony would-be feminist twist or, if you prefer, an old, stale-tasting slice of non-life, smeared and buttered with one of the worst and most nausea-inducing scores these ears have ever had the displeasure to hear, in short, a waste of just about everything: talent, resources, manpower etc, but most of all, a waste of two hours of your life you'll never, ever be able to reclaim, or, less pompously put, a piece of utter, artsy-fartsy garbage that makes you want to kick everyone involved. Yech!
The WORST movie of 2002, this film is politically correct nonsense for the
NOW crowd. If
you identify with NOW--as most of the people on the Oscar nomination
apparently do--you will LOVE this film. Stop reading and rent it now.
Otherwise, let the
Hollywood crowd congratulate themselves, save two hours of your life, and
To set the stage: The film opens with three depressed lesbians (one "out", two not "out"). They are in a tizzy about, well, basically nothing. They spend the majority of the film moping around their homes whining about their relatively easy lives. (Think about how others were living in the world during these periods in history--each one of these women lives a comparative life of luxury.) One of them actually has the unbearable burden of a single (1, one, uno) well-behaved child to raise! Poor dear.
In one particularly disgusting incestuous scene a repressed 1920s lesbian forcibly locks lips with her non-lesbian 50-something sister. (The first woman is one of the "heroines" of the film.) Another "heroine" in this group ends up abandoning her family and ruining their lives, however we are expected to feel sorry for her. Sure. If this JACKASS had been a man, he would have been soundly--and rightly--demonized. But this is feminist cinema, so we can't be that politically incorrect, can we?
Other scenes glorify "noble" suicide. Jack Kevorkian himself could not have done a better job. WARNING: DO NOT let your depressed teen watch this film. You may be profoundly sorry.
The only good thing about this film is the interesting time-shifting transition that occurs between scenes. The effect is quite well done--frankly, the best I've ever seen. But that can't save this otherwise ROTTING PILE OF POLITICALLY CORRECT TRIPE.
So said the gay ex-lover of Richard (Ed Harris) - whose name I
mercifully forget - about a book written by Richard - whose title I
mercifully forget. But while the quote is about Richard's fictional
book, the words serve also as an apt description of this movie, which
goes on and on - and on and on - without anything really happening. OK.
I exaggerate a wee bit. In the last twenty minutes or so some things do
happen, but it sure takes a long time to get there, and the wait isn't
worth the effort.
The story is supposedly about how the lives of three women all revolve around a novel by Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf herself (Nicole Kidman) as she struggles to write the book, Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) as she contemplates suicide, and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) as she deals with her ex-husband Richard (who wrote the boring fictional book) who is now dying of AIDS. Frankly the story is not just dull; it's rather depressing, and I was never able to get into it from the very beginning. There was nothing here that interested me.
I do confess, though, to being mystified by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts. This movie got eight Oscar nominations? And how in the world did Nicole Kidman win for Best Actress when - in my humble opinion - she wasn't even the lead actress in the movie? As far as I'm concerned that "honour" - dubious though it is in this project - belongs to Julianne Moore, whose character was much more central to the story and received much more screen time (and who was credited ahead of Kidman). But who can understand such things? All I know is - this was tedious viewing from start to finish.
I was looking forward to seeing this movie, and once I did I could not believe the good reviews it got. The fine actresses did well with what little they had but the internal monologues from the book did not translate well into screen dialogue, and the pedantic, paper thin faux-feminism weighted the story down as much as those stones in Virginia Woolf's pockets. Also, I laughed out loud at a few of the scenes with Ed Harris talking about his writing, and I thought the score was intrusive. I understand a great deal of talent and effort went into this film, but the result is pretentious and annoying. I'm amazed at how many people don't notice how bad the script is. For a good movie on writers and writing see "Wonder Boys." For a good movie on suicide see "Ordinary People." For a good movie upper middle class female oppression see "Far From Heaven." This movie sadly tries to do all and fails.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In "The Hours" several of our finest actresses get to kiss several of our
finest actresses. Apart from this, there is little to recommend "The
to anyone even remotely intelligent, or, for that matter, awake. Based on
novel by someone, which in turn takes its inspiration from the works of
Virginia [bloody] Woolf, this is one of those movies that wins Oscars,
articles written about it in serious newspapers, and which everyone wants
see. Unfortunately, that also makes it one of those movies which, in a
year's time, will almost certainly be forgotten by everyone who endured
Already, a week after I saw it, I'm wondering just how much of this movie I imagined, and how much of it I really saw. For example, I must be mistaken in my belief that the Woolf sections of this film are intellectually light-weight, emotionally hollow and entirely pointless. At no point in the film, as I remember it, do we get any indication of what kind of writer Woolf actually is (apart from that she's a bit of a looney and uses a fountain pen rather than a word processor) or of what her work might mean to anyone, including her. All we really know of her character from this film is that she prefers London to Richmond. Dahhling, don't we all... This is hardly a serious, in-depth character-study. It's the same mistake we saw in last year's "Iris" - the audience's knowledge of the writer's work is assumed by the film-makers, so no effort is made to persuade us that the writer's work is important or even interesting. Meanwhile, in America, Julianne Moore is reading Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway" and feeling very sorry for herself indeed. Perhaps she should read something else - something better written, for example - to cheer herself up. She leads a typical 50s life of shiny new car, bland husband, spectacularly exotic repressed lesbian neighbour, annoying kid and Philip Glass soundtrack. The usual. Her day consists of kissing the spectacularly exotic repressed lesbian neighbour (played by the spectacularly exotic Toni Collette - how can someone so unattractive be so attractive? Buggered if I know) making a cake for the bland husband and driving the shiny new car to a hotel and attempting to commit suicide, presumably so she doesn't have to read any more awful novels or listen to any more Philip Glass music. Meanwhile, Meryl Streep is in contemporary New York, organising a party for Ed Harris, who is dying of AIDS. She decides to get the flowers herself. Meanwhile, Julianne Moore reads the first line of "Mrs Dalloway" in which the heroine decides to get the flowers herself. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman writes the first line of "Mrs Dalloway"... do you see? Well, yes, but so what? No really, so ****ing what? What do you want me to do at this point in the film? Sigh with pleasure at the way past and present intertwine? Sigh with pleasure at the way one woman's words echo down through the halls of time, or something? Sigh with pleasure at the bland pseduo-intellectual pretentiousness of it all? "The Hours" is the phoniest, silliest, most pointless, pretentious movie of the year, and I recommend it only because it affords us a tantalising glimpse of Toni Collete's cleavage as she bends over a table, in a scene which I found both stimulating and enlightening. For those of you out there who appreciate the sight of Toni Collete's cleavage, "The Hours" is like a dream come true. For those of us who appreciate good writing, characterisation and proper acting (as opposed to the Oscar-fodder on display here) "The Hours" is an endurance test that can make grown men weep with the sheer terribleness of it all.
This film begins with Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) walking down to
river, filling her pockets with rocks, wading in and drowning. This will
the only lighthearted moment in the film. After that it gets really
It should have been titled "Frustrated, Suicidal Lesbians" but I
it would attract an audience. It wallows in misery and self-pity and
celebrates suicide and abandonment as legitimate solutions. It also
suggests that true genius can only come from neuroses.
It is an unbelievable misuse of acting talent. "The Hours" is how much of your life you will waste watching it.
If someone asked me to describe this movie in one sentence, here it is: "A
movie about three women, each one depressed, each one connected by having
read and being "inspired" by Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf), each one
moaning and groaning about her sad life."
WHY would anyone go to watch a movie about being miserable? Isn't life already tough enough outside the movie theater, that we need to go and waste our precious time trying to "identify" with other miserable characters? I believe movies should be inspiring and encouraging; not bring our spirits down at the end of the whole thing. It took a lot to continue sitting there in the movie without getting up and leaving. I had paid for the ticket already!
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