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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 21, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Waking up in a bar with Hugh Jackman

(That headline got your attention, didn’t it?) Sometimes, I’m sitting in a screening, scribbling an occasional note and vaguely wondering if I had lunch (this only happens during the not-so-good movies, mind you), and then something insane happens on screen that indicates that this movie, for better or worse, has gone completely off the rails. This happened to me the other day in “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which I expected to be a quiet, elegant tale of female friendship set in 19th-century China. (I thought this not unreasonably, as it’s based on Lisa See’s quiet, elegant novel about female friendship set in 19th-century China.) But the makers of the screen version, in their wisdom, decided to add a contemporary story, and then decided to give it as much screen time (or more?) as the historical story, and then decided to make the contemporary story incredibly dull (well, I assume that was their intent; it was certainly the result), and then decided, perhaps in a moment of extreme desperation, to have Hugh Jackman show up and sing a song. Which is exactly what happens, in a Shanghai nightclub, with Jackman giving it his Broadway best and me wondering, hmm, did I nod off and wake up in a different movie? Come to think of it, a lot of movies could do with having Jackman show up for a song, including most of these summer’s blockbusters. But it didn’t help much in this case.
Seen any off-the-rails moments in a movie lately, when suddenly things just seem crazy? The dinosaurs in “The Tree of Life,” for instance (a movie I mostly loved)? The talking dog in “Beginners”? (Actually I loved that one too.) Tom Hanks in his undies in “Larry Crowne”? (Well, not so much.)

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