Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Travels with Kevin Part 5: Elizabethtown is the Only Movie I Have Seen Set in Kentucky, Sorry Louisville

In 2005 director Cameron Crowe released his  follow up film to Almost Famous, and Vanilla Sky entitled Elizabethtown.  While Almost Famous, was one of the best films of the 2000s,  Vanilla Sky was a huge bomb, and failed miserably.  After an incredibly polarizing film within a year from Almost Famous Crowe had a lot to prove with this film.

Elizabethtown was in the middle between these two films, it was great nor a massive failure. I enjoy Elizabethtown  because of the story.  The film centers on Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) who has a massive failure at work, causing him to question the path he has taken in life. way it centers a son coming to terms with his negative relationship with his father, and the rest of his family.  Drew walked away from that small town life because of his dreams of living in a big city and living the corporate lifestyle.  After Drew is fired he ends up going home for his father's funeral.  On his way home he makes a connection with a flight attendant named Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst).  When Drew goes home he has to come to terms with the life he left behind and where he has ended up.  The film does a great job of talking about roots, family, the value in exploring self.

While I have made this film sound amazingly deep, which it can be the, film offers nothing interesting to the landscape of film.    While I own Elizabethtown, and enjoy it on a personal level there are flaws. The two lead have little chemistry.  Bloom and Dunst characters meet on an airplane where she is the flight attendant, but their chemistry never quite takes off.  Part of the films problem is the casting.  Casting directors and producers think because Orlando Bloom was in the Pirates films and Dunst was in Bring it On they can corner a tween market, but they are mistaken.  They also neglect to test to see if Bloom can act.  Bloom is one of the worst actor to attempt to try and become a leading man; his current career track has proven that even though he made girls swoon he can't carry a film on his own.  Dunst has some raw talent, which was proven in 2011's Melancholia, but ultimately the character falls flattest here.  I think her bad southern accent prevent me from taking her seriously.  When the major problems with a film are the leads are have no chemistry, and their acting is bad you know there is a problem.

I wish the setting of the film played a more integral role, but this film could have been set anywhere in the south and it would have worked.  What does this say about location?  Does location matter?  Yes and more than no.  Take Midnight in Paris for example, the location of the film matters and almost represents a character within the film.  The central character finds himself transported through the different historical time periods of Paris; he interacts with people who help define Paris and the art scene during the 1920s.

I think when a film uses the location properly it can help make a film better.  Elizabethtown represents every small town within a specific area, does this mean cities/places have no depth or meaning.  I view cities as entities defined by their people and culture.  Every city/town has their thing that defines them.  When popular culture takes this away they take away the character of a city.

While I was looking for a movie about Louisville I could not find many, Seabiscuit was the closest thing I could think because Churchill Downs is right there, but I have never seen the film.  Elizabethtown takes place in Kentucky, but obviously in a different city, and I substituted films with different cities. Why are there few movies about this city?  Does that mean the city has little character, did I make Louisville interchangeable like the the film did?  I did.

The city is interesting.  I am currently here for a work conference, ACPA.  The conference is in the early stages, but since I flew into the city I am without a car.  Not having a car in some cities relegates you to a specific area, and unfortunately this one of those cities.  I find Louisville intriguing, we are in the the downtown area which has a lot of life, but i feel there is always more character to explore within a city.

I honestly do not have much to say about the area, but I am glad I live in a major city within the Northeast.  I do not miss limited food options, where a place primarily offers things that are fried with cheese.  I could have also done without my friends being called faggots for holding hands and walking down the street.  I wish that had not happened but my overall city experience was that Louisville offered some good ole southern charm.

The conference itself was a wonderful experience, and I met some great new people, and got to catch up with a lot of my old friends.  Even though I took some time away from this I am glad I was able to explore a city (somewhat) i had never been to, and grow within my career.

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