“She’s the greatest piece of ass on earth. With tits like that, you make allowances.” This crude logic proffered by Marilyn Monroe’s (Michele Williams) publicist Arthur Jacobs (Toby Jones) just about sums up how much actual talent it takes to forge an acting career in Hollywood provided that you’ve got the right package of bodily goods to ware. Let’s admit it: Marilyn probably didn’t get her famous role in Some Like It Hot because of her ability to faithfully re-create a character; rather, it was one more fulfillment of the persona Hollywood had created for her: that of a coquette who could get leering men hot in the pants by making kissing gestures at them with her forefinger and doing a little bunny-hop dance number. Sure, it’s shallow, but as the old saying goes, sex sells. Sadly, such shallowness also sums up Simon Curtis’s My Week With Marilyn, a film that I’d expected much more from.
Sam Mendes’s American Beauty (1999) is a movie I’d highly recommend to anyone who is as jaded and cynical about modernity as I am. Frankly, I can’t recall another film with more delightfully fatuous caricatures. But it’s so much more than that. Indeed, the film’s mordant satire can belie its depth if the viewer doesn’t heed the tag line’s admonition to “look closer.”