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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Angelina Jolie Effect

I saw The Changeling this weekend (don't worry, no spoilers) and Jolie really ruined it for me. Don't get me wrong, the girl can emote and also roller skate (nice little period detail). But she does not look like an ordinary person and I just couldn't detach enough from her freakish beauty to lose myself in her story. There's a lot more going on in The Changeling than Jolie (a LOT more, and it doesn't work out well) and I appreciate that Jolie, being a mother herself, took on the role with much gnashing of the teeth and pouting of those crazy lips.

I just wish I could believe, for one red hot second that a woman with that face would be a single mother working at the phone company rather than a starlet or exotic dancer. This was LA in 1928, after all, and the moving pictures were already big business. Amy Ryan, who has a small but memorable part - now that is an actress I would have bought as Christine Collins - not only can she act circles around Jolie, she looks like a regular person. Because I am a regular person I need to identify with movie characters.

I mean, don't get me wrong, most actors are extraordinary good looking people - that's the point, right? They are more handsome, glamorous and have better cheekbones than most of us out here in the unwashed masses. But in some movies, they are supposed to BE the unwashed masses, someone like us who also can't decide between love and career or who struggles with dating or paying taxes or whether to murder our abusive boss. And if all we can think when we look at them is - that is FREAKISH beauty, it distracts from the normalcy and identification that we crave. So I'm asking Angelina nicely to please retire from acting and raise her 16 children and continue her work for the global good and let other less stunning actors play us so we can focus on the story. Thanks Ang, you're a peach.

In other news I went to a meeting last evening that I can't really talk about but if I could you would be HIGHLY entertained - and I mean HIGHLY - to talk about the need for good writers and good scripts. We know by now that having a fan in the business can transform your life as a writer. And you never know who is looking for content in all genres. All I can say is - keep writing Wavers, and know that you are being sought after. Yes, sure, as a cog in the money-making wheel but that's what writing is, for better or worse and it could be YOUR script that is plucked from obscurity and pushed into development by someone who believes in you and in your story. At this mysterious meeting I pitched a particular script and all agreed the concept was great. But. How is the script itself? How is the execution? That is up to the writers. I can work with the writers (and I am and you know who you are) but it all depends on what's on the page. If this script is executed with elan and professionalism, these two writers (now you really know who you are) are going to make a sale and maybe a career. Only time will tell and I'm counting on these guys. And if they don't pull it off, I have other writers who may beat them across the finish line.

Having a great idea is one thing - great execution of that idea, great enough to get several people excited enough to get the script in front of buyers - that is the key. Suffice to say that there are people having meetings in Hollywood every day discussing the need for good scripts. And they come from you. No meeting, no fancy house, no Cuban Cigars, no fine wine and genial conversation about your script is going to go anywhere unless you deliver great page work. Crisp, clean, compelling pages that captivate. Say that three times fast. So go, writers, go! You are needed. Content does not write itself. No matter how crazy the odds may seem, no matter how much competition there is, no matter what you read in the papers about Hollywood - people are looking for content. Lives are built on good content. Theaters are filled when there's good content. Help us help you.

Now get back to work.

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Joe Public said...

What if -- the Jolie character had a speech impediment or some other flaw she had to struggle with that would have not helped her looks? Sort of a blessed and cursed at the same time issue that could have folks in the audience rooting for her.

I didn't see the film, but if she had to communicate with police and really plead her case, eloquently, and succinctly, to see her have to fight through that too... Maybe.

Christian M. Howell said...

It's funny you bought that up as Cinematical had a big piece about that very thing and guess who was the center of attention. Yep, you guessed it, Angelina Jolie.

I actually appreciate a beautiful face on an average person. Believe I've seen my share.

As the saying goes,

Don't hate her because she's beautiful.

Gnasche said...

I remember when the Joan of Arc movies were in development way back when. I was hoping that Amanda Plummer would get the lead in one. She would have been perfect. Instead we got strikingly beautiful Joan of Arcs. Oh, well.

Anonymous said...

Julie, did you see Angelina in a small film about the pregnant wife of Daniel Pearl, an American reporter who was beheaded in Pakistan? The name of the movie escapes me at this moment. Do you find her good look distracted in that movie as well?

Steve said...

I just finished saying “Crisp, clean, compelling pages that captivate.” three times fast. The experience gave me a … Dorthy in Oz … “There’s no place like home” feeling that was kinda cool, refreshing, and totally unexpected. Were you thinking of Dorthy in Oz when you made the say three times fast suggestion?

Anonymous said...

I've never understood all these claims that Angelina Jolie is so beautiful. I'll give you sensuous or sultry or even stunning, but I honestly wouldn't call her beautiful.

I think she's a talented actress with a larger-than-life personality. Unfortunately, she's let the general public see too much of that personality, which makes it virtually impossible for me to forget "Angelina Jolie" and believe she is the character.

So I also find Angelina Jolie distracting (including in a "Mighty Heart," where she portrayed Marianne Pearl), but I think it's because of the hype (a big part of which is talking about her supposed beauty).


Margaux said...

Hey Julie, Even Clint Eastwood, who directed Ang in CHANGLING said, to paraphrase, that she is a terrific actress, stymied by her incredible good looks.

And you bet I'm writing a script for you.......right now!!!

Laura Reyna said...

HW has always placed beauty above believeability.

I'm thinking of all those perfectly lit, perfectly made up, perfectly coiffed screen goddesses...

I don't think Angie (or Nicole or Charlize, etc) is any different.

Same goes for those impossibly handsome men...

It's a contrivance (or whatever you want to call it) of HW movies... you might say it's part of the OTT "production values" you get in HW movies: You know the movie doesn't really represent the real world, but you accept it anyway.

But yeah, Angie has an otherworldly beauty that can be distracting to some.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I am not seeing this movie because of her. Not personal, just can't get the Billy Bob neck licking out of my head and the silly tats. I used to see every movie I possibly could -until every movie from the 20's and then 70's were all being rodone. Now I enjoy Half nelson, or Freeway, or other so called independent films. Meaning, they have an opinion or difference.

Seth Fortin said...

Myself, I'm a huge fan of Ron Perlman, whose not-very-handsome face is obscured by makeup in most of his major roles. He was briefly a sex symbol in the late eighties as a guy with a face like a cat.

But could a woman build a career that way? I seriously doubt it.

Yoda said...

Without Angie, a movie like "The Changeling" would not get made by a studio, period. Yes, it's a compelling story, and as much as I love Clint Eastwood's directing, it's impossible to ignore the fact that there is a segment of the movie-going populace who will go see this movie simply because she's in it.

This is also the season for doing Films That Will Get You Nominated, so Ang must have chosen this project with that in mind. At her level, it's just career maintenance.

MaggieB said...

I've known some drop dead gorgeous women (and men) in my life who aspired to be mothers, wives, pastry chefs and other very "ordinary" careers. That was simply their personality. Of course, even in these everyday roles their beauty was a distraction.

My husband commented that the target audience for "The Changeling" was young men! I don't think he even had a clue what the plot was.