Julie Taymor

Stage gal and costume designer who brings very theatrical and daring visualizations to her movies.  Unfortunately, she's only made one good one.

Really Like It Titus (1999) -- An incredible adaptation of William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus that is outstanding not only for the perfect realization of these characters but for Julie Taymor's ultra-stylish designs and direction.  Each scene feels like a little movie unto itself, but it also tells a larger story and revels in its violent themes (more than preaching against them).  The movie mixes time periods in a way that hasn't worked in most movies, but it does here.  This may be an unpopular play among Shakespeare scholars, but it's one of my favorite movie versions of his work.

Don't Like It Frida (2002) -- All right, we got Julie Taymor, who just blew us away with Titus, making about movie about the very interesting Frida Kahlo.  Should be great, right?  Nah.  If there was anything interesting about Kahlo's life, we don't get it here.  In fact, the movie was more about the Rivera character (maybe because Alfred Molino is a better actor than Salma Hayek).  Even the easy titillation of her lesbianism takes a back seat to the merely mundane.  The only good parts are Taymor's rare little visual flights of fancy, which are simply interstitials.  If you want to know about the artist, watch some PBS thing instead.  It'll be more vibrant.

Don't Like It Across the Universe (2007) -- An incredibly cheesy movie that retains all of the naivety of its fathers such as The Wall, Tommy, and (of course) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The cheese and camp of those movies are somewhat forgivable simply because they were trying something new and are a product of their time.  Across the Universe does nothing that those movies haven't done already, and it has none of the sensibilities and savvy that you would expect from a move made in the new millennium (not to mention one made by Julie Taymor who brought Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus to the screen so brilliantly).  The movie buys the media myth of the 1960s hook, line, and sinker and feels more like an ABC Movie of the Week version of the decade, or worse.  So you get to see a Jimi Hendrix type, a Janis Joplin type, a cheerleader-turn-protester type, etc.  In fact, everyone is a type--if they're not, then they're not even developed enough to be called a "type."  They're barely characters at all, stock or otherwise.  What about the Beatles music?  Is it at least nice to hear the tunes in the movie?  No.  The songs become literalized jokes (taken seriously) that make the Beatles songs appear less than they originally were.  For example, we get the main kid walking into what he feels is a hypocritical or phony war protest office singing "Revolution," screaming "All right!" as they throw him out at the end.  Now, sadly, viewers of the film have to work to get these images out of our head when we hear the songs again.  If someone didn't know any better, they'd think the Beatles were idiots with simplistic ideas.  Of course, there are other jokes that they couldn't squeeze into songs, such as naming people Lucy and Sadie and Jude and Maxwell (who, at one point, is banging something with a hammer for no reason other than the joke).  Some lines are simply thrown in, such as "she came in through the bathroom window," when a character does, for -- again -- no reason except the horrible reference.  I hope the remaining Beatles didn't watch this.

Copyright (c) Feb 2008 - Apr 2008 by Rusty Likes Movies