Thursday, September 11, 2008

Liv-ing It Up

Liv Tyler is a strange one, isn't she? She's beautiful, likable, a fairly good actress... and yet I can't imagine anyone becoming as devoted a fan to her as people are to the likes of Winslet (guilty as charged) or Streep or Moore or... you get the picture. Liv Tyler just seems to... exist. She's kind of always there, but has never really made much of an impact, despite being in big (budget) films like Armageddon and The Incredible Hulk. I doubt anyone really dislikes her, either... she gives perfectly proficient performances but there's just nothing to get excited about.

I say all this because, by pure coincidence, I saw Liv in a film for two days in a row: Lonesome Jim, a 2005 American indie film that was finally released on these shores this year, which I snagged on DVD from the library, and then, the following day, I checked out The Strangers in the cinema (mainly because The Duchess started a bit too early for me to get into that). I had high hopes for Lonesome Jim- mainly because it stars Casey Affleck, who's become a favourite of mine- but it ended up being a bit of a damp squib. It trots along just as expected, not really making much of impression. All the kernels of observation have been made before, the quirky plot twists are unsurprising, the technical work unexciting. I did like the initially unusual line it took between Tyler and Affleck's characters- it didn't put on a flirtatious premise as they met, simply going straight from their awkward meeting to uncomfortably quick sex in the hospital where Tyler works, not having this central pairing dance around each other. Things peter out after that, and, while good work from Mary Kay Place and a scene-stealing Jack Rovello (as Tyler's son) keep interest afloat, I ejected the DVD afterwards with an impassive sense of disappointment. C

The Strangers is an entirely different kettle of fish, but strangely enough I found myself to it reacting in much the same way- initial interest and promise slowly coming to nothing. I always find myself questioning, when I go and see this type of movie (i.e. scary horror thriller types), why I'm putting myself through the ordeal, so I spent the first half of the movie or so fearful of what the film was going to do to me later, as I expected the scare quotient to up itself considerably (I was very jittery during the early shocks, but then I jump at a knock at the door in reality so I'm surprised I didn't actually leap out my seat when the same happened in the cinema...) in the latter half. Instead, I just got quite bored as Liv scrambled around on the grass trying to avoid stepping on her twisted ankle (you can observe this above). This is hardly the type of film that really demands anything particularly spectacular from its cast, so to say Liv was quite good here is actually quite a compliment. She has to hold up much of the film on her own and she really does the paranoid despair thing very well. And I must say, I can't remember being so convinced (and therefore panicked) by a scream as I was when she let out her belter of one (and thankfully kept it there, unlike Jamie Lee). But as it went on the scares just kept repeating themselves ('OMG they're there! Oh, wait, no, they're not. *bang bang* Oh, crap.') and the ending(s) was completely bizarre. However- I thought the sound was super (LOVE vinyls jarring) and I was probably more frightened that I'd admit to anyone's face. So, after much deliberation, it's a B-.

My favourite Liv film, by the way, is probably Inventing the Abbotts, which more people should watch. It also has Joaquin Phoenix in it!

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