Saturday, March 7, 2009

Snow Angels

In movie adaptations, there are moments that you can't capture, subplots that must be cut for whatever reason, and bits connected to these subplots as well that must be also edited out. David Gordon Green's "Snow Angels" is so strung of these unexplained bits that its like the film is the result of free association. To a point, of course. It's a low-grade adaptation of a much more deserving author's work. I've met Stewart O'Nan, and he's a literary mastermind. "Angels" the film version is unworthy on its own, for the most part miscast, horribly paced, and tinging with convolution. Kate Beckinsdale is definitely the wrong choice to play Annie Marchand, a woman in a terrible marriage to Glenn, played with some gravitas by Sam Rockwell. Rockwell turns in a somewhat nuanced performance, especially in two scenes where he interacts with Nate (Nicky Katt), the second a seriously powerful oasis stuck in a swamp of cliches. I've seen all of this movie assembled in many other places. There is an interesting story in between the lines of a fourth-rate plot: Annie's fellow employee at a Chinese restaurant Arthur (Michael Angarano) likes to play trumpet in the school band, smokes pot, and has a relationship going on with Lila, played by Olivia Thirlby, who'll remain in my mind as Juno's best friend. Arthur has family troubles: his mother and father are separated, and his father offers letters and mixtapes to try to reunite the couple. In my opinion, that's somewhat ridiculous. I'd seen this play out so many other times in other movies, I couldn't really get past it. Since there's so much to focus on, the fact that there is a missing child case embedded in the story has a lessened impact. It's very similar to Clint Eastwood's "Changeling": there's too much of a murky facade surrounding the whole devastation that we are almost challenged to be moved. All I have to say is, pick one story or another and stick with it, focus on it. Then we have a good movie. There is really only one good performance inside of the film, and that's Tom Noonan as the unnamed bandleader. Noonan, unbelievable in Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York," builds a fascinating character in less than five minutes, while others are given an entire film, where they can't do what Noonan does. Of course, 25% of the film is random, unnecessary shots that are not even artistically or purposefully set. Then, when we get into the integral scenes of the film, the camerawork is so obnoxiously distracting, moving left and right, that we can't focus. C-

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