Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AMELIA, The Movie, Also Crashes



I was looking forward to seeing AMELIA this weekend, the biopic about the late Amelia Earhart, but it is not playing near me. So far, the reviews have not been kind to the movie, and I am disappointed.

Most think the subject is worthy but that neither the director Mira Nair, or the script has the moxie to match that of the late aviatrix. Descriptions of the movie run from cookie-cutter, paint-by-the-number, to generated by a computer screenwriting program. One critic even grandstands declaring, "This movie proves the Biopic is dead."

Director Mira Nair (THE NAMESAKE) is Indian. One of her most recent movies is BOLLYWOOD. I suspect that a cultural divide between the director and the esteem with which Americans hold Earhart could account for some of the negative criticism. In other words, something was lost in translation.

The film is lauded for its beautiful cinematography and for actress Hilary Swank's performance, but passion, probably due to the poor dialog in the script, is lacking. That's sad, because Amelia Earhart, by most accounts, was a passionate woman - - passionate about flying, being the best, love, sex, money, and being a celebrity. Above all, she had to fly!

Richard Gere stars as Earhart's older husband and promoter, Publisher Richard Putnam. Ewan McGregor plays Gene Vidal, father of Gore, who was one of Earhart's real-life flings. Apparently, the only fling she is allowed in this movie.

Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, was very critical of the movie. She asks, "How could so tradition-busing a role model have resulted in so square, stiff, and earthbound a movie?"

All the critics seem to agree that the main problem is with the script by Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan, which is based on biographies by Susan Butler and Mary S. Lovell. However, the director could have changed those things in the script that, as Schwarzbaum states, "overload the picture with a cargo of messages, so much so that she [Nair] deadens her subject's spirit."

Schwarzbaum isn't the only critic that disliked the musical score for the movie which, apparently, telegraphs impending action and makes one wish for the score of OUT OF AFRICA instead.

Also, not one review mentioned that they flew a real vintage Lockheed Electra in the movie, the type of plane Earhart flew. It was the first turboprop airliner produced in the United States. Unfortunately, it gained the nickname of "Killer Airliner" because of so many crashes. Fifteen still fly today, mostly as cargo planes. Apparently, the Electra is the only authentic aspect of this movie.

I went to a local movie theater Monday and noticed that AMELIA was not among the posters of "coming attractions." I asked the manager when AMELIA might be showing. He replied, "Well. I don't think we will show it. The reviewers this weekend clobbered it." I admitted that I had noticed.

Meanwhile, enjoy this:



For more videos about Earhart, click title of post.

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