A totally lameass movie.

July 23, 2006

Review for Ask The Dust.

Tickets for Thank You For Smoking were sold out, so the boyfriend and I caught the only other movie available instead. I didn’t hear about Ask The Dust prior to this, and was convinced the boyfriend was trying to trick me into watching scary movie with him yet again (the title sounds like it could reasonably be a horror film, right). Turns out it was a “romantic movie”, so I guess the only draw for him probably was the R21 rating. Whatever.

It was an entirely sucky movie that appears to have been made in the 1950s (I know it is set in the 1930s depression era, but I’m saying the quality of the production seems backdated to the 1950s). Perhaps it may have been pretty innovative during that era, but in 2006 it is so overidden with clichés that I was chuckling in the theatre at it. On hindsight, that may have been rather rude, especially since I found out that there are people from some quarters (namely IMDb.com) that actually liked it (honestly a pretty absurd concept to me).

(Okay, there are going to be huge spoilers for this, but who cares, as far as I’m concerned the show is a big flop anyway.)

Ask The Dust is an adaptation of a novel by John Fante, and feels exactly like one, meaning not a lot of work was done to turn it into a screenplay (or at least, it feels that way). The voice-over narration technique can be seen the atas way as very film noir, Raymond Chandler-style, or simply just as a really cheapo way of transferring a first person book narrative to film. And it’s not even used discriminately, just whenever the screenwriter is too lazy to find a better way to express the plot and emotions. That, and the protagonist talking to himself (or to a Saint) all the time. My pet peeve!

And then the rest of the dialogue in the film were way cheesy. Lines like, “Don’t let me go, don’t ever let me go.” Talking about it, I can’t believe how she died in the end (see, major spoilers– I told you so). I mean, we all knew she would have to die, of course, the plot was entirely too predictable– you know the drill, guy falls in love with girl who dies of some incurable disease. Yet, the producers somehow still felt the need to foreshadow it a million times over. For example, Girl and Boy are having sex for the first time when, in a totally out-of-point moment, Girl coughs and Boy pauses mid-thrust to ask, “Are you ok?” WTH. Not to mention it was already established early on that Girl’s good friend had gotten TB.

Anyway back to the ending: I’m not so much shocked that she died, but the way in which she did. Girl runs away and Boy finally finds her in a shack out in the desert where they proclaim their love for each other in ultra goosebumpy style. They hug and Girl says that line I was telling you about, “Don’t let me go, don’t ever let me go,” (her second time in the film, third if you count his daydreaming) then conks right away. I could almost imagine Salma Hayek sticking out her tongue, crossing her eyes and making the “conking noise”. And then it cuts to a close-up of a makeshift cross, tilting up to Colin Farell with a spade, apparently having just dug a grave for his beloved. It was hilarious!

There are a whole lot of other things that disturbed me about the film, such that altogether it seemed like an amateur piece of work, although I don’t understand why it would be. Small things, like how the final shot of the book flipping in the winds to the page that he autographs for her (again a most cliché shot) is undermined by the fact that 1) it is still addressed to Camilla Lopez not Camilla Bandini even though she died (immediately) after he proposed, 2) the dedication is not even printed on the dedication page as in most books, but is handwritten (a lack of commitment still, perhaps, and it makes you wonder who he thanked in the dedication page (that particular printed page of the book was prominently seen in shot when the pages were flipping) instead). I don’t claim doing it that way would be much of an improvement, coz those would have been pretty cliché as well, but without which I don’t see how that final shot is oh, so impactful (compare with the closing shot of Brokeback Mountain and you see a vast, vast difference there).

The only saving grace of the film is I think the chunky letter bits, which I am fairly certain (judging from the real flair in writing) were ripped wholesale from the novel. Those were the only parts that made the character of Arturo Bandini believable as a good author.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: