The Lincoln Lawyer
Here’s something you don’t see every day. We’ve got a crackerjack story based on a good book by Michael Connelly, a writer I really like. Then there’s a faithful screenplay by John Romano, with wit and spirit, full of good dialogue and some good one-liners. Next there are good performances by all involved, from the stars down to the bit players. So I’ve used the word “good” several times here; the result should be a good movie, right? Wrong! There’s one more element involved, and that’s the director, an idiot named Brad Furman. This is his second feature film, and I’m sorry to say another is in the works. To this asshole a long shot is a face from the hairline to the chin. A two-shot is two faces nose-to-nose, almost touching, so close that their ears are off-screen to the left and the right. A close-up consists of maybe ten square inches of skin, an eye and part of a nose. My god, it’s a good thing he doesn’t go in for low-angle shots, or you’d see every booger in Matthew McConaughey’s sinuses. That’s about the only “trendy,” “edgy” film technique he doesn’t employ. He is also a big fan of the other two things that annoy me so frequently these days: The two-frame series of jump cuts, and the inevitable shaky-cam. In a scene where two people are standing around, just talking, watch the edge of the frame and see how it’s moving around. It’s as if filmmakers think no one will watch a scene anymore unless the camera is moving. When the lawyer addresses the court or the jury the camera circles around and around him like a staggering drunk. And the close-ups, the close-ups, the endless close-ups … I swear that 90% of this movie consists of shots of a face filling the screen.
I wanted to like this movie, I tried really hard, and from time to time I was getting into it, because it is a good story, and the acting and writing are very good … and then I’d recoil back into my seat as another lunar landscape of oily pores and beard stubble loomed into view. This film was a make-up artist’s nightmare. No one is good enough to make even these attractive people look good this close. Their teeth don’t look good, their skin doesn’t look good, and let’s not even talk about nose hairs. Even Marisa Tomei (who is looking real good at 47, the few times we can see her at a reasonable distance) doesn’t look good this close. And McC is a hunk, but not this close. But poor John Leguizamo looks like the before picture in a Phisohex commercial, and William H. Macy looks about 150 years old.
What I want to know it, what is the deal here? This crap has been going on for many years now, getting worse and worse. Do younger viewers like this kind of filming? Do directors just think they like it? Are old farts like me the only ones who find it a gigantic distraction? Doesn’t anyone remember how to make a non-superhero drama anymore? I skimmed through a few reviews and no one mentioned it. Only about 5% of viewer comments on the IMDb complained. Reviewers accept it, viewers seem to like it. And I’ll never understand it. If you like it, I’d love to hear from you, and hear why you like it.