Writing is more of a self conscious exercise for me now than it used to be. I was much more of a first draft person when I was younger, letting things spill out in a stream of consciousness and then calling it good. Now, however, my mind is constantly analyzing itself regardless of what I’m doing, but especially if I’m writing.
One side effect of that self consciousness is that I'm more and more aware of what my go-to tricks are. One of my favorite ways to dissect a film is to talk about it's tone, because that moves my negative comments away from any specific people while still allowing me to be critical of a project that didn't really work. Star Wars comes up a lot when I need an example of a well made blockbuster. I compare a lot of directors to Steven Soderbergh, not because Soderbergh is my favorite director but because his output is so diverse that there’s some appropriate comparison to almost any type of movie you can think of.
You know what is absolutely not a go to for me? Hats.
Well, fashion in general. I couldn’t take my eyes off Amy Adams in American Hustle because the dresses she was wearing were so provocative. Mirror, Mirror's designs were so eye popping and fun that they boosted the rest of the movie, whose plot was not nearly as inventive as it's ball gowns. But outside of a small handful of exceptions the costuming tends not to be in the top ten things that I notice. But when you have Mae West wearing the hat in the picture above - well, a hat that ostentatious erases any potential conversations about tone, Star Wars, or Soderbergh.
What in the hell is going on with that hat? Is that really the sort of thing you should wear when you are going to visit a man in prison? Especially if he is in prison because he was stealing diamonds to satisfy your lust for jewels? What animal has feathers that big? Do you think the person that made that hat did it as their masterwork, as their ultimate piece of craft? Was that hat an accident that an apprentice hat maker made which the boss somehow managed to unload on her? That hat raises so many questions, none of which I can answer.
The rest of this movie might be flimsy, but it has that hat! It also has a scene where a woman trips over the head of a bear skin rug and stabs herself in the gut with a knife blade that’s three inches long, a wound so brutal that she immediately dies without losing any blood. Two hearty laughs in a movie this short and unchallenging is honestly not that bad. I mean, it could have been better; a Wookie could have been wearing that hat. But not that bad is still pretty good.