Good fucking gravy, I haven't seen such a travelogue for Italy
since sixth grade social studies class when we were forced to
watch film strips about foreign countries. While "The Talented
Mr. Ripley" is prettier and more expensive looking than
"Italy: Europe's Dirty Little Cousin!", it's also a
hell of a lot longer and more boring. Almost painfully boring.
Had they shown this in school, I guarantee I would have fallen
asleep and drooled all over my desk.
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" is set in the late 1950s.
Matt Damon is Tom Ripley, a poor pianist in New York mistaken
as the former classmate of a millionaire's son. The millionaire
hires Damon to go to Italy and persuade his son Dickie (no giggling,
please) to come home and work in the company ship-building business.
So, Damon is off to the sunny shores of the Mediterranean. Once
he finds Dickie (Jude Law), he falls in love with him and his
carefree lifestyle of boning fishlips Gwyneth Paltrow and anything
else that moves. While on the pappy's payroll, Damon does nothing
to convince Law to come home, instead he insinuates himself more
and more into Law's swankuluxe (I made up that word, but you
can use it) life. The two of them scheme to keep Damon on the
father's payroll so they can spend even more of his money on
jackets and scooters.
Eventually, Law gets sick of Damon hanging around all the
time and tells him to get lost. But, Damon is too in love with
Law and all the Martha Stewart living they're doing. They fight,
and Damon kills Law. In order to maintain his fancy-pants lifestyle,
Damon assumes Law's identity and cashes his trust fund checks.
Slowly, oh so slowly, one of Law's obnoxious American friends
(Philip Seymour Hoffman) figures out what's happened and accuses
Damon. So, Damon kills him, too, which draws police heat.
Damon's identity as Ripley sometimes, and Dickie other times
helps him hide, but it also creates problems. He keeps bumping
into various people who know him as one or the other. All the
while, the police seem to be closing in on Dickie. Damon must
twist and turn, hiding from some and revealing himself to others.
The story of this amoral poor shit from New York finding his
way into high society and then killing to keep his place, could
be a taut little thriller that should be grim and darkly funny.
But, it's not. It's a dawdling travelogue for Italy that is mostly
meant to tell us ignorant Americans that Europe is so much better.
It's not about Damon or Law or that sickly Paltrow. It's just
First, it's about as taut as an aging porn star's tits. Even
though it's only two and a quarter hours, it feels like four.
Ninety minutes into it, I looked at my watch thinking I had been
there for three hours. The main problem with making a movie too
long is that people lose interest in it as they start needing
to take a piss. By the end, I could barely remember what was
going on on-screen because I thought I was too busy trying not
to wet my pants. Every scene is long, and that's because humorless
director Anthony Minghella wants to make it very clear to us
that this is art. It's high-falutin' PBS shit with more interest
in dazzling us with beautiful scenery and annoyingly high-brow
characters than getting on with the story.
There are probably a lot of people out there who think "The
Talented Mr. Ripley" is a high-class movie because it looks
so damn expensive and epic. But the story is not supposed to
be an epic. It's the pulp-fiction story of a sociopath who can
imitate other people insinuating himself into the lives of rich
people and then having to pay for it. It's like Patricia Highsmith's
novel was a bloated corpse and Minghella ripped the skeleton
out of it and only filmed the fat and skin.
When he occasionally does tell the story, he does it with
less tension or interest than the elastic in one of Mrs. Filthy's
support stockings after she's worn it hard and put it away wet.
What we get is a bunch of rich, annoying and turlteneck -wearing
Americans wandering all over Italy. Hell, I can get rich, annoying
Americans at any martini bar in downtown Denver, so if someone
wants to put them in a movie they better be doing something worth
my admission. By the end, I didn't care who was dead, who thought
who was the killer, or whether Damon would get away with it.
The acting is actually very good, but unfortunately incidental.
Law and Paltrow are effective as rich candy-pant Americans spending
their parents' money. Law is so Goddamn pretty that he outgays
Damon's gay character, even when he's not trying to be gay. He
is the perfect poster boy for gay men and women who don't want
to ever have sex. And even though Paltrow shows her cellulite-heavy
ass, she isn't required to do much but smile sometimes and mope
the rest. Damon is a pretty weird looking guy. I guess the ladies
think he's cute, but I think he looks funny. And in his tight
bathing suit scene, he shows us he's got a very small package.
I think he does a good job with his role (the novel says nothing
about Ripley having a small weiner), but I can't tell, because
he doesn't have to do much but stand around and let the scenery
be the star. His range of emotions is about as wide as mine is
when the Mrs. tells me about a sale at Safeway. Phillip Seymour
Hoffman once again proves that he's the best fucking actor in
movies. That guy comes on the screen and all the sudden the movie
is interesting. He's not a clown and he doesn't even try to take
over. It's just that he makes it look like something is actually
happening. I wish he was in the movie more. Cate Blanchett, playing
a somewhat sad rich American girl, is good too. She would have
made Paltrow's much more worth watching.
This is a Miramax movie. Miramax is owned by two gay
brothers, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who are so afraid that Americans
hate homosexuality that they won't show it in their movies, and
that pisses me off. In "Ripley," Damon is gay but he
never even kisses another man. It's not because the story won't
let him, it's because those fat fuck Weinstein Brothers probably
wouldn't. Last year, they cut out the gay storyline in "54,"
and I can't imagine that movie being worse because of that. Why
the fuck are they making artsy films if they're such Goddamn
cowards? Take a stand and go on some diets, you pigs.
Two fingers for this bloated Christmas turkey. I'll
give it four fingers for everyone who has "The English Patient"
on video and jerks off to the scenes of crispy Ralph Fiennes
(pronounced Ralf Fee-en-es, nomatter what he says) crying. But,
from now on Minghella should leave the thrillers to directors
who actually want to thrill.
On a sad note: The
Ralston Amoco has closed and I am out of work. My boss said they'd
reopen and I'd have a job. But, I went by the station yesterday
and it's surrounded with chain link fence and a backhoe demolished
one of the islands. If you know of anyone looking for workers,
please let me know. I
am open to different opportunities and exploring new employment
worlds, provided they have to do with pumping gas.