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Friday, January 15, 2010

The few things I do remember I donít remember all that clearly, so maybe Iím being falsely nostalgic over the 1980 movie Fame. Maybe Iím remembering it as being better than it actually was, but hereís the key. Thirty years later I can still summon up those characters the way I knew them then. LeRoy, Ralph, Doris, Montgomery, Coco, Bruno. Whether or not the movie was as good as I now think it was, those characters popped off the screen and found a permanent place in my memory.

Iím afraid there isnít anyone in the 2009 remake of Fame that vivid (with the possible exception of Naturi Naughton, and in her case itís the actress/singer and not the character I remember). Here I am an hour after watching this version, and itís like movie popcorn. Gone and not missed all that much.

And itís not even that it was a bad movie. I enjoyed it well enough, but it didnít have the substance of the original. It didnít grab me emotionally, and the only song Iím humming is the title song. We know where that one came from

Maybe itís not fair to compare the two, because they come from different eras and fill different spaces in the movie continuum. If thatís the case, though, maybe they shouldnít have called the new one by the same title.

13 January 2010

On the other hand, last night I watched last yearís Oscar winner for foreign language film, and it blew me away. Departures explores great themes within the small story of a cellist whose orchestra folds, forcing him to take a job preparing bodies for ritual burial (in Japan, where such things are regarded with reverence). Itís about life, death, love, work, and different kinds of loss. Its tone is neither too frivolous (despite the quirky concept), nor too dark (despite all the dead bodies). Itís a beautiful movie with wonderful performances.

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