Saturday, May 14, 2005

Has CC mentioned she doesn't like Nora Ephron?

So I'm still thinking about last week's Sunday New York Times.

They had an article that is bugging me.

About Abu Gharib, you ask?

The nuclear option?

Nuh uh.

The "Bewitched" movie.

You see, Nora Ephron is being hailed as a genius for her brilliant idea to rewrite the script. (CC is not at all a Nora Ephron fan. Nora Ephron's career started with trying to adapt Katharine Hepburn's worst movie into a TV series with Blythe Danner in Hepburn's role and hasn't improved. Since then the highlights of her career have been movies where Meg Ryan decides she doesn't need what she's worked for all her life, she just needs the man she fell in love with ten minutes ago. Barf.) Anyway, the producers knew they wanted to do a Bewitched movie. But the 1950's style homemaker witch thing just wasn't working.

So they tell Nora Ephron about it, she goes home, and the next day she has a plot idea:

A producer remaking the sitcom "Bewitched" hires a beautiful unknown to play the lead role. And get this..she's a real witch with actual magic powers.

Brilliant, Nora Ephron! You're such a genius!

OK, if you're reading this, and you really are on the "Nora Ephron is a genius" bus, there's a movie you've just GOT to see.

Shadow of the Vampire.

Picture it: Transylvania. 1921. Director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) sets out to make Nosferatu, the "most authentic" vampire movie of all time. He drags the whole cast out to a rundown castle, where they meet Max Shreck (Willem Dafoe) the man who will play ""Count Orlock," the vampire. The movie's premise is that Max Shreck was a vampire.

(Item: Have you ever seen a picture of the real Max Schreck? He's the scariest looking bastard ever. I find it a lot easier to believe that he was a vampire than I do that that a guy like that was a movie star.)

He starts eating the crew, of course, and as the movie plays out is becomes not so much a horror movie as a psycholgical drama and exploration of Murnau's stopping at nothing to create his masterpeice. Murnau is an artist and nothing matters but creating his art. Menawhile, Willem Dafoe is so good as Max Schreck that when they show bits of the 1920's "Nosferatu" you can't tell the difference. His Max Shreck is a tortured creature, an old, decaying vampire who makes us feel his obsession with blood and in one moving scene watches a film of a sunrise with deep poignancy. Both of them are single minded in their persuit of what they want and they both are dealing with the issue of immortality.

Yes, Cary Elwes's German accent has an undeniable "He vas my boyfriendt" quality. But I loved this weird little black comedy of a German expressionist horror movie with lines like:

Our battle, our struggle, is to create art. Our weapon is the moving picture. Because we have the moving picture, our paintings will grow and recede; our poetry will be shadows that lengthen and conceal; our light will play across living faces that laugh and agonize; and our music will linger and finally overwhelm, because it will have a context as certain as the grave. We are scientists engaged in the creation of memory... but our memory will neither blur nor fade.

And Nora Ephron ripped it off for a Nicole Kidman movie.

What a genius.


Ps. Oh, and Salon really hated Shadow of the Vampire.


PeaceBang said...

I LOVED "Shadow of the Vampire," but I can't imagine why I ever saw it in the first place. "Art up the butt" is a pretty funny expression, though.

You have to understand that "Bewitched" was my first pop culture obsession, and that the moment I saw the promo with Nic Kidman attempting to wiggle her nose, I was filled with fear and loathing. LOATHING. Except that, as the ultimate Endora fan, I kinda think that Shirley Maclaine will do it justice.

Little Known Fact About PeaceBang: her red hair (since the age of 18) is a tribute to Endora.

Chalicechick said...

Heard it here first, kids.

who actually thinks Shirley Maclaine could indeed be a creditable Endora. The right casting makes all the difference. (E.g. CC despised the mere idea of a
Garfield animated movie until she saw that Bill Murray was voicing Garfield. Then she thought to herself "That might not suck." She never actually saw the movie, but she remains convinced that there's hope for it.)

Anonymous said...

There was also a wonderful version of Carmen, wherein a flamenco dance troup was doing a version of Carmen (the opera). The woman who plays Carmen is named Carmen. The rehearsal scenes intertwine with the love affair going on between the director and Carmen, until in the climactic scene where he stabs Carmen, you don't know if it's rehearsal or real.
Great movie.

Chalicechick said...

THAT sounds neat.

I still think this Bewitched thing is a ripoff, though.