Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Main Street The Movie: Coming Soon

Before: It's got Mr. Darcy, Luke Duke, and a pirate from the Caribbean.  How can they go wrong? -Daniel

After: He must have agreed to do this before he got the Academy Award -Lara, about Colin Firth

It's neat to see scenes from Durham in a movie, Main Street, with big name actors like Colin Firth, Orlando Bloom, and the guy from the Dukes of Hazzard.  It was filmed on location.  That makes it worth seeing for locals.  It opens in the US in theaters this Friday, the 30th of September.  I don't know why, but we already have it here on DVD in Australia, our temporary home until the Department of Agriculture and the city of Durham allow me to import the kangaroos down the street (1). I don't know art, but here are some thoughts about Durham and the movie.

It makes me cringe when they consistently pick out the sore spots of town. In fairness, it is a movie about urban decay, which is not the current story of Durham.  Indeed, the creators of the movie chose Durham based on a visit more than ten years ago.  That was before the new ballpark, rebuilt Tobacco warehouse developments like the American Tobacco Campus, a new performing arts center, a new 1.3 million square foot mall, and two other redeveloped malls, blah, blah.  All that urban renewal wouldn't help the plot. But the city is still called Durham, North Carolina in the movie, so it's not exactly a postcard for the city. Think positive. Anything to prevent over-crowding is good.

Ironically, the scenes from an office and a restaurant, shown as upscale places outside of Durham, are also shot in Durham.    Your definition of Durham will be defined by the sites you sample.  Even in the same location, there are different stories.  I looked at the stats for generally well regarded Jordan High School, and I found different populations, almost schools within schools.  Some groups were doing very well and going off to prestigious colleges , and some couldn't pass basic reading tests.  So no story is going truly showcase the whole of a city.  But Durham doesn't get a lot of movies to showcase it different facets. Please support HR bill 1891, which will require two comedies for every serious depiction of a city (2).

Back to the story.

I paused in the middle of the movie for a bathroom break.  I hit play, and it was over in 5 minutes.  It turns out that it was almost all exposition.  Develop the characters, the scenery, and the opposing themes.  Then you actually do a story (3).  Or you can slowly do the first part and forget the second part, and just take a few minutes to wrap things up and roll the credits.  It was like part one of a mini-series, but there was no "to be continued..." at the end.  At first I was thinking, the setup seems a little slow.  Just wait and watch like an adult watching a movie that won't be defined by number of sequels it spawns.  And then, poof.

Overall, I thought it was worthwhile, but don't expect an intense story.

(1) I'll also have to wait until I learn how to catch a kangaroo.  I have gotten close to them.  I'm trying to get them used to me, so I walk over there every once in a while.  They really are at the end of the block.  See our blog.
(2) I am thinking of a new Ferris Bueller's Day Off, where Ferris is black and Cameron is white.  Ben Stein will still be played by Ben Stein.
(3) Or in an action movie, you paint the picture using exposition, and then blow up the picture in really creative ways.  In a romantic movie, you paint a picture and then hang Matthew McConaughey's shirt on it.  Women then forget that there was a painting or a shirt.


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