October 28, 2005

The Weather Man

In Michael Caine, The Weather Man has one of the year's great performances. The cinematography is wonderful, the overall craft virtually impeccable. And yet the film ranks among the bottom of my list. Why? Because when I left the theatre, I didn't come away with anything more than I went in with. It's a lot of talent and artistry towards no true end. They're a bunch of likeable interesting losers, yes, but losers none-the-less. The Weather Man is Broadcast News from William Hurt's perspective. The flash is there, but there's no urge or real desire to go any deeper.
The film reminds me of another piece of Oscar bait. About Schmidt also had an interesting script with big name actors doing challenging things. This film is funnier and truer than than that one, but the journey — or lack there of — is essentially the same. Even when Cage's character is trying to be deep, he focuses on the surface issues: he didn't get his father the newspaper, people will think his eulogy was shallow and sucked. He wonders why everyone is so unhappy but makes no real headway into resolving it. Two moments truly affected me: when he broke down in tears in the passenger's seat of his fathers car, and when he kicked the shit out of the man who was making moves on his son. They were the two scenes of advancement and truth, the only whiffs of where a better movie would have gone.
There is a very strong argument to be made that this was the only reasonable path that these characters could have taken. I accept that, to the extent that it's true. I'm not asking for him to become father-of-the-year, I'm just asking that he show some signs of growing from the previous scene in the movie.
Or maybe, like so many dark comedies, I just don't get it. I do know that I look to cinema to show me something new, to inspire me or entertain me or challenge me. This movie did known of those things. It simply spread a blanket of isolation, loneliness, and despair in a world that already has too much of each. ()


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