Sunday, August 08, 2004

Inclement weather in New Canaan, CT

Watched The Ice Storm last night on DVD. It was on sale at Borders for 8 bucks or something like that so I bought it a few weeks back and just got around to watching it again. That's a movie that really defies easy definition and description. It's cool for a lot of reasons. One, it takes place in 1973 and the trouble the filmmakers went to to recreate the time period is just astonishing. They have a reference to The Crying Indian ad, Watergate, macrame vests as well as all the free love and sex that seemed to be creeping into the suburbs during that time period. Cripes, it's probably the only movie I know that has a key party in it.

I think one of the things that really made me think last night was the idea that The Ice Storm really is a period piece. Usually, you think of period pieces being movies that take place in Victorian England or during the Revolutionary War, but the simple fact of the matter is that 1973 was 30 years ago! And a movie made today about that time period qualifies as a period piece as much as anything else. But what struck me is the difference between a movie like The Ice Storm which was made in the late 90s looking back on a time in history vs. movies like Taxi Driver and Saturday Night Fever, which are movies that really are slices of the time during which they are set--the difference being that the latter movies were actually made during that time period. How do they differ? How are they the same?

For one thing, I think that movies that look back on a time period are always going to overdo it a little bit. Saturday Night Fever effortlessly captured Brooklyn during the disco era whether that's what it set out to do or not. The Ice Storm deliberately sets out to recreate an era, and in so doing, goes a little bit over the top. I can forgive this of the movie--it's still a great re-creation of an era, but it's still only that; a re-creation. And ultimately, there's something false about it.

You have to hand it to Christina Ricci in the movie though. She is, without a doubt, one of the most talented young actresses we have. She'll always have a little bit of Wednesday Addams in her for me, and of course, she'll always be my sister Wendy's celebrity double, but she's a very good actress who plays a wide variety of roles quite well.

I love the history of the late 20th century (mostly 1960 on) and this movie appeals to me on that level. Definitely worth a watch if you get a chance, but the book, of course, is better.

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