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Once upon a time I had a cranky calico cat. Her general misanthropy, indeed, her overwhelming dislike of most everything except food and a warm lap, masked a fine aesthetic soul. She was terrifically sensitive to sound, and there were about three things that would flatten her ears and send her scurrying from the room:

1. Bagpipe music.

2. Me singing "Loving You." It's easy 'cause you're beautiful. Dooot doot doo doo...waaaaah! Okay, this song annoys practically any creature with the ability to hear, so maybe it doesn't count.

3. Philip Glass.

So if said cat were still alive I could, if I were so inclined toward such cruelty, torture her with a double whammy of the soundtrack of not only The Hours, but also Notes on a Scandal.

We saw Notes last week, despite my apprehension--when I'd heard the plot of the film, I worried about the implications of the Judi Dench character: Another portrayal of a frigid, chilly lesbian (with a cat!) who becomes obsessed with a beautiful, unobtainable straight woman. (Although now, having seen the film, I'm not entirely convinced that Dench's character is really lesbian, perhaps just polymorphous perverse? She may have latched onto a man who demonstrated any kindness or superficial interest toward her as did Cate's character.) The subtleties of the acting, however, counteract what could have been stereotyical portrayals in the hands of lesser actors (and a lesser writer/director). Because you have all these melodramatic elements a-brewing--the teacher/student relationship, the wronged husband. Handle with care! (And I also have to give 'em props for a matter-of-fact affectionate presentation of a family that includes a child with Down's syndrome and not making a big "statement" or sentimental muckup of it.)

The only thing that bugged about the film was, you guessed it, the goddamn music. In quiet moments, in tight closeups, it was suddenly there. In Cate Blanchett's big "I'm chanelling Siouxsie and the Banshees, and I'M WRECKING THE FLAT!" moment, it was there. They probably used the music to trigger Cate to heights of psychotic rage:

Director: Oi, Cate!

Cate: Yes?

{Turns on music: DOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOODOO]

Cate: Oh JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! [rips apart set]

Judi Dench [wearing earplugs]: I see somebody wants an Oscar very badly.

It was there, spoiling the moment, soaring and crashing wildly and overwhelming everything, as if at the last moment the filmmakers decided they could not trust the audience to think or react or feel anything but a repetitive and oh-so-respectful string drone that tells you: This is a big moment and boy oh boy, you are a fucking idiot if you miss the significance of this. Did you get it? Look, there it is, riding the crest of that music you can't stand! Oh, oops, it's gone. SOWWY.

(I have to admit that Glass's music in The Hours bugged me even more in that film; it was the sonic equivalent of the putty shit on Nicole Kidman's nose: WHY IS IT THERE? But that's a rant whose time has come and gone.) Music does have the power to make or break a film, and that being said, I think I'd rather watch this (if it existed) rather than sit through The Hours again...unless I can mute the sound.

And there's this, which, like one of the commenters notes, is funny for about a minute and then notsomuch.

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theholyinnocent

May 2013

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