Friday, July 21, 2006

Devil Has Some Divine Stuff

When I walked out Lady in the Water, I walked into the last hour of The Devil Wears Prada in the theater next door. At the time, I was just trying to flush my brain of Shyamalan's murky mess, but I'm so glad I did.

This is the best film I have seen this year. I mean for me as an adult move-goer.

Now, maybe it is that the arena of Devil - the fashion world - is the evil twin of Hollywood in which I have set up my tent. But no, there was extra stuff in this for those of us who make our living in pop-culture. For everybody else there is still plenty of charm and heart, and fun. I sat there watching a wonderfully choreographed ending scene of the film thinking, "Huh. This is a haunting moment." And also, "Wow. Every Christian in Hollywood, needs to watch this film weekly just as a gut check."

Devil is an entertaining coming of age film which takes us into a world with which our culture is currently obsessed. As Streep's character evilly notes just after she has completely ratified her life-long choice to descend into hell, "They (meaning the audience) all want to be us."

Meryl Streep is amazing here. Truly. She is the focal point on the screen even when she shares the shot with thirty other folks at a banquet. How does she do that?! She is "evil Emperor" evil as opposed to "Jabba the Hut" evil. My philosopher sister noted once when we were both in highschool watching the Star Wars trilogy unfold for the first time, "The Church can work with Jabba evil, because it is still a reaching for substitutes for beauty. We can do almost nothing with the Evil Emperor evil because it is a love of darkness." Anyway, Streep has to get another Oscar nod here. Even though it is just another day's work for her, nobody else in Hollywood could pull it off as effortlessly as she does. Astounding.

The principal weakness in the film is Anne Hathaway. She was miscast here. Or else, she can't even pretend to hold up her side of the scenes against Streep. The film needed a young actress with REAL acting chops - like Clare Danes or Kirsten Dunst.

The script was heavy-handed at times, and I resented the default living in sin arrangement of the main character, but I really left this film wanting to be a more heroic person. It had me wondering what compromises I have made in my career.

That's good stuff.

Devil Wears Prada was good enough for me to delete the 2005 list of favorite films and start one for 2006. Here in July.

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