Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Does The Paperboy Deliver Pulp Fiction?


"The Paperboy" starring Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, John Cusack and David Oyelowo comes out in the states on Friday, October 5; I'm struck by the fact that it's another screen adaptation based on very old book. Not old, like classics "Great Expectations" "Anna Karenina" "Les Miserables" and "What Maisie Knew" all coming soon -  but old like "The Eye of the Storm" which was written in 1973, it seems to have taken quite a few years to make it to the screen. Pete Dexter's "The Paperboy" came out almost twenty years ago, in 1994 and at the time of the book's release, the general consensus was that this was a well written piece of suspense and yet a vaguely disappointing effort from the writer of the 1988 National Book Award winner, Paris Trout. Dexter collaborated with Daniels on the screenplay.

Awards and great expectations are tough to live up to. Just ask poor Lee Daniels, the director charged with bringing this story to the screen, and who earned an Oscar nomination for helming 2009's "Precious". Daniels had just as many eyes watching to see how his next project would turn out and whether he would disappoint or prove himself. As if Monster Ball wasn't enough! It seems like the jury is still out, on this film anyway; at least until Friday when the bulk of the movie-going public finally has a chance to see the film for themselves.

Does the pink poster, the muscle car with Zac Efron behind the wheel, Nicole Kidman looking like a trashy (trashier?) Ann Margaret, and Matthew McConaughey standing in the background make you want to see it as much as they do me? How about this trailer?

Words like raw, sweaty, lurid leap to mind; I really like how the film LOOKS like it was shot back then vs now. The little pink dress that matches Nicole Kidmans' bubble gum pink lipstick, and the overly bleached hair depict the swinging sixties in sordid glory. Kidman  supposedly packed on 15 pounds for the role and did her hair and makeup herself at Daniel's request. In fact Daniels told the New York Post   
It was important that she put on some weight. I said, ‘I want you fat. I want your butt jiggling, I want your thighs moving.’ She put on 15 pounds.” He also told them, “I told Nicole, ‘Look, I can’t get some Hollywood make-up artist to do their Hollywood take on it. You have to do this yourself.’ I thought she was gonna quit because she was so shocked.”

DANCING CROTCH TO CROTCH
Dancing cheek to cheek is too staid
for Kidman's and Efron's characters
in The Paperboy out Friday.
Take the fact that the tarty, ticky tacky much older Charlotte Bless (Kidman)  has a sexual relationship with Jack Jansen (Zac Efron) who seems to parade around in almost indecently tiny shorts and tidy whities while his Bless's lover, Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), her lover, languishes in jail. Ward Jansen (McConaughey) is the investigative reporter who uses his brother Jack to drive them around, looking to get a beat on the story.

I have a feeling that this is going to be one helluva ride. Maybe bumpy sometimes but I remember the thrilling days when you could slide around, seat beltless on the back seat of a car, watching the driver in the rearview mirror as they sent the vehicle hurtling forward down the open road. The pot holes and bumps in the road that jarred and sent you reeling made the drive all the more exciting. When the sliding around on the vinyl finally stopped, giggling and feeling giddily out of control, I would find the driver's eyes in the rear view mirror and seeing the satisfied smile, could relax knowing the man behind the wheel was in charge the entire time. I really hope that's the case with Lee Daniel's and The Paperboy!

Last May when it screened at Cannes, there are stories of audiences booing the film - Mary Corliss at Times reported 
"At the morning screening for critics, the film was greeted with a chorus of boos. Early reviews were nearly rhapsodic in their derision. “Transcendentally awful!” —Robbie Collin, The Guardian. “Sloppy, inept and – sorry – appalling!” —Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere. ”An insipid waste of time and money for the audience and for everyone who made it!” —James Rocchi, The Playlist."

But there were those who came to Daniels' defense like John Frosch in The Atlantic.
"Vivid moments like that one in Daniels' pulpy, sweaty, outrageously entertaining, smarter-than-it-looks Southern noir left a lot of critics huffing and puffing about how something like The Paperboy has no business being at Cannes. I'm not going to wade into the "what makes a film worthy of Cannes?" debate, but people need to lighten up. The African-American, openly gay Daniels is far from the "worst filmmaker of our time," as one critic hyperbolically suggested on Twitter. His previous movie, 2009's Precious, about an obese black teen and her monstrous mother, was an inconsistently modulated melodrama, but it had heart, guts, and an almost operatic sense of grief and redemption."

Frosch who said the film is "part black comedy, part lurid erotic thriller, part socially conscious period drama" also noted that in his opinion, The Paperboy has more to say about race in America than last summer's screen adaptation of The Help.

Here's the book's storyline from Random House:
The sun is rising over Moat County, Florida, when Sheriff Thurmond Call is found on the highway, gutted like an alligator. A local redneck is tried, sentenced, and set to fry. Then Ward James, hotshot investigative reporter for the Miami Times, returns to his rural hometown with a death row femme fatale who promises him the story of the decade. She’s armed with explosive evidence, aiming to free—and meet—her convicted “fiancĂ©.” With Ward’s disillusioned younger brother Jack as their driver, they barrel down Florida’s back roads and seamy places in search of The Story, racing flat out into a shocking head-on collision between character and fate as truth takes a back seat to headline news.

4 comments:

  1. Zac Efron like his fans from High School Musical have never seen him. Looks pretty steamy.

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  2. He was pretty steamy in that adaptation of The Lucky One - be interesting to see if it works or they figure out something else to do with him. There must be something between High School Musical and this, right?

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  3. Oh my God, I am so in love with Nicole Kidman it is NOT even funny -- so I definitely must see this!
    Thanks for the smoke signal about this movie.

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    1. I love your fervor! While I am not "in love" with Nic (ha!) I do love her too.

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