Friday, April 01, 2016

Life 2015

A good attempt but a failure never the less is this film that covers a few weeks in the life of the doomed James Dean. The movie takes place right before his startling and star making role in “East of Eden, and covers his brief friendship with the great photographer Dennis Stock which when I heard about it sounded like a very tantalizing and provocative idea for a movie.
The film stars a new to me actor Dane DeHaan who mumbles and slumps his way through the film and frankly just doesn’t have the sexual or star quality that Dean had, I was never convinced by him and all the talk and substantial stories about Dean’s gay-bisexual history is not touched on leaving out a big part of his ever lasting myth.
Perhaps this was an example of cold feet on the part of the director and screenwriter. Dennis Stock is played by Robert Pattinson another actor who leaves much to be desired but he has the easier task here because who knows or cares what Stock actually looked like. There is some back story on the photographer thrown in, that may or may not be true, neglectful father to a young boy, divorced from his wife, but we are never shown why Stock was such a major talent, but to be fair over the closing credits we are treated to some of his now classic photos of Dean.
The film does have a nice time warp feel to it, with most of the shooting of the film done in Toronto and L.A. stepping in for New York City and Indiana. The best sequences of the film take place in Indiana when Stock and Dean took that famous visit back to his hometown of Fairmount and his family farm. It was here that Stock took those brilliant photos of Dean that found there way into the pages of Life Magazine (thus the title of the film) a few weeks before the release of “East Of Eden. and helped make Dean the superstar that he became.
It’s in these scenes where the movie has warmth and feeling and the film finally comes alive. There is also one amazing digitalized scene of the famous Times Sq. photograph of Dean walking in the rain that will take your breath away and is really worth seeing the film for, its that spectacular. Otherwise its pretty much the same old with unknown actors playing famous and known stars and personalities of the day including Natalie Wood, Eartha Kitt, Pier Angeli, the director Nicholas Ray and the ever present Ben Kinsley in a bad hair piece playing the nasty Hollywood tycoon Jack Warner, doesn’t this guy ever take a vacation?


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