Friday, July 30, 2010

très jolie

I just watched Wanted on-demand the other night. It was Matrix-y to the max. Beyond absurd. At times downright stoopid. Way too profane. Unnecessarily gory. And a whole lotta fun.

Before I go any further I should say that I have always loved Angelina Jolie. I just don't get the haters. Too skinny? Maybe. More than any other Hollywood actress at the moment? Nope. She's beautiful, interesting and a good actress. But most importantly, when it comes to her film choices the girl kicks ass. I mean, seriously. While I was watching the umpteenth completely impossible yet riveting-to-watch special effect stunt in this mayhem-fest, it struck me—what other female star could pull off any of the scenes that Jolie just did? Nicole Kidman? I think not. Maybe Uma, but I'm not sure she could go as dark as Angie.

Jolie seems torn between two kinds of movie roles—the serious, "important pictures" (A Mighty Heart, Changeling) and a certain type of action movie—the kind where she gets to shoot big guns and kick serious butt. The first kind of movie got her an Oscar, but frankly, doesn't necessarily bring in the crowds. The second kind of movie is truly where she excels. You can tell she is having s great time and she's such fun to watch. Her latest release, Salt, Lara Croft, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the silly one about cars with Nick Cage—these are all movies to watch more than once.

One of my favorite guilty pleasure movies showcases the rare combination of both sides of Jolie's film persona. The Bone Collector with Denzel Washington and Queen Latifah is a lot of fun. It's a far-from-perfect film. I have major quibbles with the gratuitous gore and some stupid re-plotting (compared to Jeffrey Deaver's novel) concerning Latifah's character. But what it does right is very right, and that mostly involves Jolie's interaction with her fellow actors. The chemistry she has with Denzel is off the charts. It's unfathomable to me why these two haven't worked together since. The way the characters together try to puzzle out the mystery is fun to watch. You don't really care what the solution turns out to be as much as enjoying being in this group's company.

But back to Wanted. Again, Jolie is working with some fun, good actors—Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, James McAvoy. But what makes it over-the-top fun (besides her tattooed step out of the bath) is her willingness to go all out. The scene that did it for me was a chase scene in the last third of the movie. Angie's car is racing alongside a train where hero McAvoy is trying to kill an assassin before the assassin kills him. At one point in the chase she decides the best way to get on the train is to swerve her car into the train, driving it into a passenger car not far from the hero. She then steps out, only slightly disheveled, with a few scratches, looking fabulous and ready to cause trouble. As I said before, who else could pull that off? Très Jolie.
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