Wednesday, April 8, 2009

John Adams

Movie: John Adams
Like/Don't Like: Good, despite the weird make-up and heavy pauses.

I have kind of a soft spot in my heart for John Adams. He has always struck me as being short and grumpy. And I can relate to that.

For this reason I've wanted to watch the John Adams mini-series. Plus, I've heard several people rave about it and I can see why. The story, by itself, is incredible. It is broad and covers the highlights of a very fascinating life, starting in 1775, near the beginning of the Revolutionary War to Adams' death in 1826. And in addition to those highlights it focused a lot on the relationships he had - with his wife and children and with the other founding fathers. I particularly loved his friendship with Jefferson. They were friends on opposite ends of the political spectrum who reasoned with each other rather than argued. Politics makes me cringe because usually the discussions are so one-sided they make me want to shout out something controversial just to mix it up, or they're so combative that I want to gather everyone in a hug and feed them cookies to calm them down. It was a relief to see two intelligent people have a respectful and thoughtful discussion on their difference. And I will admit that I openly wept at the end when both of them died on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

I did have a few complaints about it. They aren't in any way major. Most of them are based on artistic choices that, instead of adding realism and depth to the story, just distracted from it. Like the weird camera angles. Anytime there was some kind of discord the cameras would go all wonky. At one point they showed Adams walking through a field of corn and the camera flipped and followed him the rest of the way upside down. Yeah, I get it, his world has turned upside down. Now turn back around before I throw up. It did not help that most of these wonky camera angles were filled with heavy pauses.

A typical scene:

camera tilted to the left
John: (Sigh)(Heavy Pause)
Abigail: (Wide-eyed Stare)(Heavy Pause)
John: I need to go to Philadelphia.
Abigail: (Heavy Pause) But you've just returned.
John: (Sigh)(Slight Stammer)(Heavy Pause) Yes, but the Congress needs me.
camera titled to the right
Abigail: (Wide-eyed stare into the distance)(Heavy Pause) But the children...
John: (Heavy Pause)(Open and Close Mouth Several Times)
Abigail: We will make do (Resolute Wide-eyed Stare)(Heavy Pause)(Cuddle with John)

It wasn't bad, but it got a little old after 7 hours.

One more thing, and this is just pure nit-picking here. But what did they do to David Morse's face? He played George Washington and they put a fake nose on him to make him look more like the General and it was HORRIBLE. It completely sucked the ability to act right out of him. He just stood there with this enormous prosthetic on his face and mumbled a few lines here and there. I suppose one could make the argument that he was just acting stoic, but it looked more like he was trying to figure out a way to breath with his mouth closed.

Alright, that's it. It's pretty long, but it rewards your time with that good feeling of wanting to go out and wave a flag. And coming from someone who is more of "waving a flag in my heart" patriot rather than an actual flag-waving one, that's high pretty high praise.


Chaka said...

Paul Giamatti is a great actor. I enjoy watching him in just about anything. He can even make "Big Fat Liar" into a masterpiece.

Rach said...

I wondered about that show. That's one Tim has probably been secretly longing to watch, but didn't dare ask me to netflix it because it's so long. I will now netflix it. Tim will thank me forever. Plus it sounds pretty good.

Rach said...

This has nothing to do with John Adams, but have you actually managed to not see Twilight yet, or is it that you have nothing to say about it? I am curious...