De Pits, by Steve Le Boeuf, B.A. in B.S. (Magna Cum Loud)
Above: Should anyone be foolish enough to disagree with film critic Steve Le Boeuf, it'll be clobberin' time!!!
TORONTO (SP) — It's De-awful, De-garbage and De-merde. What kind of piece of unwatchable tripe is this De-Lovely? No less than an esteemed film scholar than Larry King gave it a glowing five star recommendation and called it "the best musical film biography ever, gang!"
That's the last time I trust you, Larry! You might have been right to give five stars to both Bio-Dome and Benigni's Pinocchio, but this time you went too far!! Am I all alone here? Does anyone else out there feel as if Larry King's film reviewing credentials should be revoked? After plunking down my $13.95 for a nighttime screening of De-Lovely and coming out of it completely limp (what with there being no shots of sweet Ashley Judd's anatomy or even Kevin Kline's taut bottom). I am ready to go to the nearest CNN outpost and barricade myself in there until King personally refunds my money (plus all traveling expenses, of course).
What the hell was I thinking going to see this piece of crap? I hate musicals, and how could I have missed all the advance notice on the film's homoerotic subtext. Don't get me wrong, I'm not homophobic, I loved Philadelphia. I foolishly thought that this would be another in Ashley Judd's long list of cliché-ridden interchangeable wronged woman turned ass-kicker flicks. No even her grace and beauty could save this dog. As for Kevin Kline, he's always been one of my favourites, but he seemed far too old to be playing the role of Cole Porter at the film's start. Moreover, I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours, but he seemed to enjoy kissing all the pretty boys in the film a little too much for my liking.
As for the film's depiction of Porter's music, I would have preferred if Irwin Winkler, the film's director and producer, had been brave and gone with cover versions by Norwegian or Scandinavian black metal artistes. That's one creative choice that may have lit an inspirational fire under this mutt's ass.
Winkler is a longtime successful producer who has been involved with many important films. Among his frequent collaborators have been Scorsese and DeNiro, as well as a boxing legend you might all remember, the Italian Stallion. When he attempts to direct, however, he shows why he should stick to producing. 'Though I am a novice to the world of musical biographies on film, all of Winkler's choices (aside from the casting of his two leads) were wrong. From setup to finale, from plot to pacing, Winkler did not get one thing right. This film is plodding and sleep-inducing, where it should be vibrant and alive. Winkler's worst lapse in judgment revolves around his staging of the film's musical numbers. Except for Robbie Williams' charismatic warbling of the title song, all the other performances are rank. The very sight of Diana Costello (I mean Krall) made me instantaneously regurgitate the extra-large popcorn I had earlier consumed, kernels, oil, et al. This woman, and her Elvis-like snarl, have no place but on a black velvet painting, like her famous forefather, the King. Here's a hint: If you didn't like or even know the music of Cole Porter before seeing this flick, then I seriously doubt that you ever will afterwards.
In closing, I'd just like to make a few humble suggestions. Perhaps this film could have been better if it had been directed by another Irwin (or is it Irvin?). Irvin Kirshner directed the 1980 masterpiece The Empire Strikes Back, still the best film in that particular series. He demonstrated a great talent for drawing nuanced performances out of Wookies and Droids alike. To think of what he could have done with this film, it makes my heart beat faster. Can you imagine lengthy sequences on Hoth, or perhaps the Dagobah system? I've always believed that the stormtroopers would make good song and dance men, so it's only logical that they would be a part of this film as well.
Above: A contemplative Yoda is ready for his close-up, Mr.Kirshner.
Much of Porter's best work was created during war time, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch. Add in a career revival for Lando Calrissian and Yoda in finely tailored top hat and tails, and you'd have a bona fide musical smash.
Unfortunately, I think that Irvin Kirshner is either dead or directing Kierkegaard in a parking lot somewhere in Middle America. One can dream, can't they? Just don't go see De-Lovely, okay? You wouldn't want me to come track you down, believe me.
Above: No honest, they really are quite light on their feet.