Saturday, November 20, 2004

Ham and cheese.

Kevin Spacey's Beyond the Sea is one of the most gratuitous acts of cinematic narcissism that I have ever seen. It's an unending parade of poorly-directed and laughably-written sequences designed not to celebrate the legacy of Bobby Darin, but Spacey's monstrous ego.
OK, try to follow me here: the film opens with Bobby Darin singing at the Coconut Grove. But it's revealed that this is actually Darin directing himself in an autobiographical film about himself-- a autobiopic within a biopic. As if to outdo Charlie Kaufman, Darin/Spacey just doesn't know the proper way to begin a biographical film about Bobby Darin. This tortured confusion is followed by a stream of characters that walk on screen and start lobbing charges at him, things like "You're too old to be playing yourself." Of course, this is Spacey's meta-way of dealing with the fact that he's pushing 50 and is playing a character that (for most of the film) is in his 20s. It is a huge problem: Spacey looks old and is especially creepy when he's acting opposite Kate Bosworth, who plays his wife Sandra Dee. She looks and acts more like his daughter. (My advice to the Boz: put the bathing suit back on and go get a nice WB role or something.)
Anyway, on the set of the Coconut Grove, Darin encounters the kid who is playing the young Darin in the film. But he quickly realizes that this is actually himself... It's his younger spirit, there to keep him on path, to tell the truth about his past. Or something. Initially, he just keeps saying "Bullshit, that's not the way it happened." And then they sing.
Shortly thereafter, the movie within a movie concept is quickly discarded without warning and the rest of the movie is presented as one long, garish, musical flashback (with the young'in remaining on board to act as narrator).
As for the music, nevermind the fact that Spacey doesn't sound all that much like Darin, no, he decided to re-record all the songs and damn if he isn't going to show you them all. In full. There are so many four minute, static sequences of Darin in recording studios or in nightclubs that serve absolutely no purpose other than to showcase Spacey and his hambone musical stylings.
The dance numbers are overheated and poorly shot, and there's something really cringe-inducing about watching Kevin Spacey, in tight red pants, do high kicking on "the Bronx street set."
Beyond the Sea is the absolute nadir of Oscar-pandering and arrogant pet-project-movie-making. Someone desperately needed to tell this guy that [1] He's too old, [2] The script is a mess (and it should be noted that the print I saw didn't include a writing credit as it appears it's in WGA arbitration Hell) and [3] He's not Bob Fosse (Hell, he's not even Rob Marshall). It's just unbelievably vulgar and awful.
Oh and Bob Hoskins is in it. A lot. He looks like a pickled herring and probably reeks of curry and scotch.


At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Mary H. said...

This is hilarious. I remember when Spacey was somewhat modest, but it was eons ago. Well done! I'll have to watch this stinker, just for laughs.


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