Submitted by mojo on
So last weekend the hubster and I rent videos for the first time in a long time. We got Shaun of the Dead and De-Lovely.
(I wonder sometimes (not SERIOUSLY, but casually) what the video store people think of us. But the simple fact is, my husband and I have radically different tastes, yet high enough tolerance to sit through nearly anything the other person picks. Me, I tend to go for snotty intellectual things, while he has an admittedly purile fondness for mindless action and horror films. So we both are exposed to things we might not pick for ourselves. It works for us!)
Shaun of the Dead was cute. More dramatic than I was expecting. I thought it would just be a spoof, but the Shaun guy had some good dramatic crying moments. I would recommend it for the non-squeamish. (I mean, c'mon, zombies vs. a cricket bat! It's going to be gory!)
I supposed De-Lovely would be the better of the two because I love Cole Porter and I love Kevin Kline and it got such good reviews, but I came away disappointed. The whole thing is framed in this clunky "Hey, Cole, let's watch your life story like it's a splashy Broadway musical!" which didn't jell. The end finale was "Blow, Gabriel, Blow" which I wouldn't have picked. Not my favorite, even when Ethel Merman sings it, and she wasn't singing this one. Most of the songs they tinkered with, mostly by slowing them down to awfully boring ballads. They did sing like three whole stanzas of "De-Lovely" (the most I ever heard anyone sing it), and it wasn't too bad, so that was okay--though I was hoping they would sing all eight million stanzas...
But my biggest trauma was the travesty they made of "Begin the Beguine" which has to be one of my all time favorite Cole Porters. Granted it's supposed to be a sad song, but they slowed the tempo and turned it into some draggy minor key dirge. I nearly stuck my hands through the television screen to strangle them for that. Stick with Ella, people!
It opened with the PG-13 rating and said it got it for "sexuality". It was incredibly tame by Hollywood standards, so I wondered aloud why it got a PG-13. My husband supposed it was because some of the incredibly tame sexuality depicted was homosexual, but I can't imagine it's that. Is it?
Afterward my Favorite Older Sister yelled at me for getting it. "Don't you remember complaining about the soundtrack when we were on the airplane to Las Vegas?" she said. Once she brought it up, yes, I do remember being excited about having a Cole Porter channel on the plane's headphones and then scandalized by the terrible renditions of half the songs, especially Begin the Beguine. I don't remember it specifically being the movie soundtrack, but my Favorite Older Sister, who evidently remembers the details of my complaints much more than I do, said it was, so it must be so.
Anyway, if given a choice in the video store, go for Shaun of the Dead over De-Lovely. And I never honestly thought I would ever say that. And if you want a DECENT introduction to Cole Porter, get Ella's two Songbook CDs instead of this soundtrack. Or an Ethel Merman CD with Porters on it. Someone--anyone!--who puts some life in the songs, which are really good songs, honest....
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