Sunday, November 30, 2008

How Do We Feel About Biopics?


Ali Karim reading.

We saw MILK last week and I loved it. Thought Sean Penn did an incredible job of bringing the sweetness and earnestness that was Harvey Milk alive. All the supporting roles were filled well, especially the amazing Josh Brolin as Dan White.
They did a great job of integrating newsreels with new footage. I laughed; I cried.

You can imagine my dismay when neither my husband nor daughter much liked the film. Their principle complaint was that it was a typical biopic that refused to see the subject in anything but black and white. That the film ticked off the events of his last years in a dull fashion. That only the scenes with Dan White skulking around excited them.

So tell me what biopics have done a good job. I think MILK did. What others come to mind?

16 comments:

eviljwinter said...

I liked AVIATOR, actually. There were several points where DiCaprio just vanished and let Howard Hughes do the talking, particularly during the Senate hearings and when Hughes went off on Katherine Hepburn's family.

ink and beans said...

Speaking of Josh Brolin, I thought W. was a surprisingly decent biopic. Some of the Bush administration were caricatured, but the movie didn't beat up on GWB as much as it might have, and actually portrayed him to have a few admirable virtues and endearing flaws, none of which ultimately saved him from a tragic presidency.

The movie wasn't as black and white as I thought it would be.

Why is this post dated Dec. 3, by the way? : ) I have 11/30 by my calendar. That would put you, like 72 time zones away?

paulbrazill said...

I liked confessions of a dangerous mind and Domino.

Dana King said...

I generally agree with your family about biopics, although I hear MILK is different. Most of them show a troubled youth, great talent beset by demons (preferably drugs if an entertainer) then a happy ending that takes place wherever it need to in order to be a happy ending. RAY comes to mind; highly overrated.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN comes to mind as a good one. Fun, but it didn't dress up the damage Abegnale did to others, and how it effected him. The best part is, he turned out all right, and the movie didn't make a big deal of it. Well balanced.

Steve Allan said...

Raging Bull is about the only biopic that was brave enough to throw away the sympathetic character and actually showed the real person behind the story

Naomi Hirahara said...

LA VIE EN ROSE. Beautiful and non-linear.

An essential piece of information was not revealed until the end.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have no idea why this post posted itself today. And it went up with Ali's last name wrong. As I told him, if a name can be mispelled, I will find it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think the less we know about the subject, the better we will find the movie. I do want to see W. La Vie En Rose was perfect since I knew very little about her. Actually all of the mentioned movies here were great.

Ray said...

AMERICAN SPLENDOR, while not strictly a biopic, did a lot of interesting things with the form, and captured the core of Harvey Pekar. THE ELEPHANT MAN? ED WOOD? Probably not biopics either...

ARCHAVIST said...

I thought Chaplin was excellent

pattinase (abbott) said...

These last suggestions, and I loved all of them, are about people who we are not so familiar with and maybe not living exemplary lives. Maybe that's the thing. We don't want to see evocations of perfect people. We want a life with gray and black as well as white patches.
I wonder if Van Sant had filmed bits of Milk's first forty years, which he said were not praiseworthy, would his last years would have seemed less white.

John McFetridge said...

"Malcolm X" was good.

Another good biopic with a Detroit connection is "Net Worth," about the Red wings' Ted Lindsay fight to start the NHL Players Association. A real picture of the 1950's.

Would you call "Eight Men Out" a biopic?

pattinase (abbott) said...

Maybe more an historipic?

Lisa said...

NIXON and RING OF FIRE come to mind. I also liked THE LAST TIME I COMMITTED SUICIDE, about Neal Cassady and when I looked the movie title up I discovered that there's supposed to be another Neal Cassady biopic coming out this year. I have a weakness for these kinds of movies.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The Last Time is a new one for me. Have to check it out as my husband's writing on Kerouac as we speak.

Joe Boland said...

Hi Patti

I've been away, but how about YANKEE DOODLE DANDY