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If You're on a Diet--TRY IT!
If you don't lose your cookies in the first ten minutes of the movie, you'll be on the edge of your seat looking for a purpose in Perfume: the Story of a Murderer. Besides its value as an effective appetite-suppressant, I could find no merit to this movie. It barely had a plot, its denouement was inane, and there was no protagonist. When a movie has no detectable moral-of-the-story, and the only thing keeping one in suspense is when there will ever come a point at which there IS a point, then, if the content is gratuitously disgusting enough, one can recommend it only as a dieting aid or a purgative.
And, people of Provence are not implicated herein. This was a collaboration of mostly Germans and English, filmed in Spain. I pity the inhabitants of Grasse. Wiping this septic picture from one's mind is difficult--a strong antidote is needed. Dustin Hoffman, I discovered after seeing the credits, had some sort of role. It's not too late for him to take his name off the roster, though, because if no one knows he's supposed to be in this sick flick, it's quite probable they won't know he was ever in it.
Perfume: don't even take a whiff--it STINKS!
Altman and Friends Grasping at Straws
Neither Altman nor his stars understood country music. The author having insinuated politics into the film was both gratuitous and useless--adding nothing to the story but more cynicism. It was as though Mr. Altman threw a lot of balls into the air, hoping one of them would hit. The music was dreadful--might pass for drugged-up folk music but had no melody. Poor Johnny Gimble, Texas's best fiddler, who looked pained but characteristically pleasant while trying to save bad, fake "country & western" music--he doesn't even get a credit on this site, while Vassar Clements does. The movie was full of inaccurate interpretations of the country music style and milieu. While attempting to be a send-up of hicks and small-minded rednecks, they even got THAT wrong! Cartoonish pastiche on that theme, while being hackneyed and unfair, could have been achieved with little effort, but wasn't. It is as though Altman and crew were ALL on psychotropic drugs during the making of this film. I also pitied Merle Kilgore, who is a true song-stylist of high quality, having written many big country & western hits including "Wolverton Mountain". He and Mr. Gimble were cynically invited to participate in a movie that not only had no point, but which, in its stab at ridiculing the country music scene, only succeeded in exposing the bad taste and ignorance of Hollywood itself. The plot sickens--oh no, wait: there wasn't one. Mr. Altman thought he could cleverly use the "One Day's Chronicling" device to conceal that deficit. That dawg don't hunt!
Night and Day (1946)
Glamor and Drama in a Gorgeous Film
This is a beautiful, entertaining film with clever dialogue and a bit of drama. Though Cole Porter himself said that there was little reality in it, his professional career was featured here in a most winning fashion, with both negative and positive elements of it featured fairly. It is appropriate that the film concentrated upon the career rather than the seedier side of the protagonist's private life. It is all too common these days to have to suffer through presumptuous exposés of the most-private affairs of famous people who are no longer with us. At least this film was produced while its subject was alive. The Irwin Winkler "remake" or retelling, "Delovely", was nothing but an outrageous, shallow outing that concentrated on negativity, while subjecting us to the most boring, flaccid dialogue ever--ironic, I think, for a story about one of the most clever American lyricists of the twentieth century! The 2004 outing starring Kevin Kline also featured some hideous modern renditions of Cole Porter's music that did no justice to the genius of the composer. Movies can accentuate the positive while minimizing the negative and still have value. This is one of the most visually appealing films I have ever seen, but it has moments of disturbing realism as well as glamor. The rigors of life as a prolific artist, as well as the trials of an artist's spouse are portrayed with an adequate degree of grim reality. It does not so much ignore the homosexual activities of the subject as it does allude to them very delicately, and that is all that is required if one has good taste and an active imagination. I'll take an original over a remake any day, and this production, co-starring the hilarious Monty Woolley and the lovely Alexis Smith as Linda Lee Porter, is a good example of that preference.