View Full Version : The Hours

dave durbin
02-10-2003, 09:48 PM
This actress-y diva orgy is nothing more than a non-intellectual's intellectual soap opera. The performances are fine -if a bit overpraised- but the film is an over-stylized vision of depression that is ultimately reduced to a 'life goes on' philosophy. Kidman has the most interesting character and segment but the director keeps the camera on Meryl Streep's usual tricks -the fidgeting, the darting eyes and constant movement- and highly theatrical dialogue; every line between she and Ed Harris (wasted here like he was in A Beautiful Mind) sounds like a headline shouted to the third balcony. Toni Colette is good as usual but Jeff Daniels's(a good actor) contribution -and character- was not even needed. Julianne Moore gives probably the best performance in the film. The Hours is far from an insult to the intelligence (like Steel Magnolias or Beaches) but it eventually succumbs to its own self-importance and lofty artistic ambitions.

02-10-2003, 10:54 PM
Ed Harris gives one of his best performances, with subtle differences from Pollock make his role even more riveting. The fine drama here really hits deep emotional buttons and the experience washes over the soul with an uplifting positive message by the end of the movie. You seem to miss the feelings, and are looking for something that's not there. Orgy. What orgy? I didn't see any orgy. I think you have let your words run too fast and loose. There is alot more sick PG-13 stuff out there that calls itself action-thriller, teenage skin flicks. No soap opera. There is great editing that connects these three women and their men instead of the choppy, haggard soap opera mis-match of cut em up splicing. Self-importance and lofty artistic ambition have been achieved (not succumbed) with great success with the Golden Globes awards. I believe this movie to be very important in its outward, selfless message to women all over America and its artistry is made self-evident that impact may have on the social and political agenda.

dave durbin
02-11-2003, 12:08 PM
I agree that the film pushes buttons -it's obviously designed to- and that it's more than possible to feel during this film (how could you not?!). But by the end, I found myself thinking about how those feelings really were no different from the ones I have had from certain soap operas, melodramas like the films of Douglas Sirk, certain episodes of Six Feet Under, etc. As far the acting goes, Ed Harris is a great actor who did the best that anyone could with the cliched role of the dying, AIDS-ravaged homosexual. (When I used the term 'orgy' I was referring to the emotions on the screen that were running rampant throughout the film -the overwhelming amount of tears, monologues, shouting, furrowed brows, longing stares, etc. It was a true theatrical actor's indulgence.) I found the most interesting segment to be Nicole Kidman's: she had the power to crack Virginia Woolf and take us places we've never been to but the film's director only took you so far with those moments. What makes an artist tick and where does the inspiration come from can make for a fascinating explorational journey and it's rarely been done successfully -if ever- and he seemed to be coming up with a unique way to present that material yet he focused his lens on the character of Clarissa (Meryl Streep) and her modern Mrs. Dalloway-scenario (and it was stagy, clumsily constructed, and felt almost like a bad play that had no end) and the lonely housewife played by Julianne Moore (who was terrific) and her bout with suicide; it was well-played, but it's all been done before if you think about it. (For an example of a movie covering old ground with a more insightful twist see 'The Piano Teacher' -it contains scenes that tap into your emotions like no other film.) How can I defend myself against a film that resonated deeply with you? Simple. I can't. There's no way. I have many films that have touched certain cords in my soul and felt they said something more than the average film yet others have dismissed them as silly and forgettable and meaningless. I was not unaware of the emotions in The Hours, I felt that if you look closer at it's meaning you'll find that there's nothing really new or that hasn't been said before.

02-11-2003, 11:55 PM
What really enamored me to The Hours was how it didn't preach, it didn't explain simply, it was an movie that was experiential, and it evolved. The feelings, the moods washed over and I began to learn from observing and sensing, not by what was said, but by how people behaved. For me this movie was true acting and it went to the core of the affirmation of women even to the detriment of men. By the end of the movie I was moved with hope and optimism. I enjoyed the splashiness of how the editing seemed on target for me, how each of the Soap Opera like intercutting dealt with a progression that ultimately weaved a complete tapestry that by the end of the movie I was able to see a brilliant whole picture that exquisite for me to come to understand what this movie was about for me. There was a completeness that I never get from simple Soap Opera. There was a deeper message, a wrenching, substantive shift I my perspective of the real world of today. The Hours had a profundity that make is the 2002 Oscar nominee for Best Picture that it is.

Chris Knipp
02-17-2003, 02:59 PM
If you want to make this movie a Higher Soap Opera in which the feelings just wash over you because you want them to, fine, but just admit that all the right buttons are being pushed and that's why you are liking "The Hours," and not because of its validity as a work of art or its accuracy about poor Virginia Woolf, or the relevance of the three segments to each other.

I would gladly say that the movie is better than the book: it has more life in it, and it has some fine acting (though also some dubious acting; and in the case of Kidman I'm beginning to be unsure which, but that's not so much her fault as the filmmakers'--her performance is vitiated by its being a travesty on Virginia Woolf, even though her character and her performance are interesting in themselves). But the structure of the movie is entirely dependent on the book's, and therefore seems just as pointless as the book's. What, I ask you, do these three plots have to do with each other, really? An interest in suicide? So what? This is one of those weepers where you're supposed to start weeping in the opening credits and weep all the way through, like Death in Venice.

02-17-2003, 05:21 PM
The Hours didn't just wash over me, it invaded me and seeped into my pours and penetrated my heart and my mind with its inspiration for this age and its doom for those living in older times. I was lifted by the intertwining and great editing of different women and different eras sharing the same resonance of man and woman relationships - of the search for individuality and their own meaning but caught in their own times but where one woman and era can flow over into another woman and era resulting in growth, evolution, and hope. The cinemography and directing dealt with Virginia Woolfe (in a symbolic way I guess, a metaphoral fiction - since I don't know Virginia Woolfe and never read anything by her) captured elements of light and darkness, of timeless human issues but yet that apparently change over time. This was a lovely, great movie that brought together an excellent cast and promoting deep, meaningful emotional buttons that all good movies accomplish.

Perfume V
02-18-2003, 07:18 AM
Ultimately I felt The Hours ended up being depressing in a way that it didn't intend. Its very message was "Things haven't improved in eighty years for women. You might as well give in now." It was based on a novel by a man, directed by a man and written by a man. Some men can write excellent female characters - Pedro Almodovar is merely the most obvious example - but this just came out as hollow, an empty piece of victim chic that said nothing to this depression sufferer about his condition.

Aside from that, it was one of the most overwhelmingly pompous films I've ever seen, with each tiny action battered into submission by a flatulent score by Philip Glass and an approach to composition so mannered it made Road to Perdition look like The Blair Witch Project. Nothing breathed in this film.

Chris Knipp
02-18-2003, 04:40 PM
I have gone on record saying that there is some fine acting in "The Hours," and it is a beautiful, glossy production. But it does deal with one very famous, very important woman writer, Virginia Woolf (note spelling), and I suggest to anyone who sees "The Hours" and liked it (whether it washed over them or through them) to pay it homage by going out and getting some of V. Woolf's books and reading them. It seems that a goodly number of Virginia's fans and scholarly specialists are not happy with the film, and not so happy with the book by Michael Cunningham by the same name, The Hours, either. The movie follows the book pretty closely in essence, except for being more cinematic in its editing more quickly back and forth between the three stories and for the dubious device of showing Virginia's Woolf's suicide at the beginning, thus showing it twice, when in fact it did not occur till 24 years after she wrote Mrs. Dalloway -- which is seriously misleading. This great English writer and feminist who is seen as a chain smoking basket case in the book and the movie was enormously productive and had much left to do when she finshed Mrs. Dalloway. This is in the Twenties. She got through London during the Blitz!

I find Nicole Kidman's character interesting and intriguing, despite the putty nose that creates a face less beautiful than not only Kidman's but the real Virginia Woolf's aristocratic schnoz and handsome, elegant profile. The trouble is that the character is unfair to Virginia Woolf. The good thing is that a lot of people are going out and snapping up copies of Mrs. Dalloway and reading it. It's one of the great English novels of the 20th century and deserves to find the wide new audience the movie is bringing it.

Michael Cunningham's novel won awards, but is less, infinitely less, important. It rides shamelessly on the coattails of the better, more famous writer. I failed to see what the three separate segments had to deal with each other in the book, and I fail to see what they have to do with each other in the movie. It is all very well to say they show women struggling with problems, etc. The fact is that the book and movie imply an interconnectedness between the three disparate stories that is forced and arbitrary. Combine that with the shameless button-pushing that happens, and you get an annoying package but one well calculated to win hearts at Oscar time.

I would also agree that the story is a bummer, since the common thread is suicide, and it is more a bummer because we can't understand why this should be made a common thread in such otherwise disparate tales.

Chris Knipp
02-18-2003, 05:28 PM
I'd like to refer readers to Patricia Cohen's article in The New York Times February 15, 2003, "The Virginia Woolf of The Hours Angers the Real One's Fans":

dave durbin
02-18-2003, 05:31 PM
Persistent little thing, aren't you?

Chris Knipp
02-18-2003, 05:33 PM
Well, I used the article and I thought I ought to cite it.

02-18-2003, 08:22 PM
This movie presents a progessive evolution of women through different eras of time from suicide, escape, and liberation as I've noted elsewhere. This is positive movie that isn't depressing because it ends on a note of progress, a note of positive change in how women deal with their individuality and role in society.

Perfume V
02-20-2003, 08:20 AM
It was still bloody awful, though, wasn't it? ;)

Just kidding. Don't flame me...

02-20-2003, 09:30 PM
I would think that "Adaptation" was literally "bloody" awful if you know what I mean

dave durbin
02-22-2003, 01:04 PM
This really doesn't have much to do with anything that's been posted recently but I thought I would send it in anyway: a friend of mine was leaving the theater after watching The Hours and heard someone say to somebody else "I haven't laughed that much in a theater since I saw Platoon!".

brian martin
03-06-2003, 04:45 PM
Dave, the person who laughed during The Hours and Platoon - that's crazy! Such a person would be too, I don't know, different from me for me to find interesting. I liked both films very much.

I would call The Hours a good movie, and, at that level, a good movie can affect people differently. It had an inordinately good affect on me. It was certainly sad, but I like that.

I enjoyed Ed Harris's performance very much.

I do understand how The Hours might be viewed as sentimental, and how Streep's performance has been done before - completely valid statements - but it all worked for me. It's the movie I've wanted to see for years.

05-11-2003, 11:45 PM
The Hours is the most pretensions movie I have ever seen. I was so thrilled when Ed Harris jumped. I coudn't bare another moment of his overacted performance of a cliche. I spent most of this movie rolling my eyes and laughing.

Chris Knipp
05-12-2003, 12:38 AM
I just saw a review of The Hours on a new website called http://www.thespoiler.com.uk, and the writer sort of implies the same thing, that he was glad when Ed Harris jumped. I agree that the film and book are pretentious. However, there are things of value. I just think the film is overrated.