Day 3- Sydney Pollack Blogathon
Personally I was one of those who felt that Out of Africa, was a highly overrated movie, but it did manage to impress the Academy enough into giving into a bunch of Oscars. Fortunately it seems I am not alone, in feeling the same way, as Kevin Olsen also examines why he feels so. In his wonderful review on Out of Africa, Kevin dissects why he felt that the movie was standard Oscar material, but apart from that nothing really great. One of the best thing I found about Kevin’s reviews on Pollack’s movies, were his rather dispassionate, objective look about it, at the same time managing to capture the interest.
Out of Africa is one of those “sweeping epics” the Academy loves so much, so it’s no wonder that it – and not better films like Three Days of the Condor or Tootsie – won Pollack his Oscars for directing and producing. I put “sweeping epic” in scare quotes because Out of Africa, although decent at times, is painfully ordinary in how it tries to win the audience over as a big, ‘ol fashioned epic. It wants to be big in scope and sprawling in its love story; however, Out of Africa is not even close to being Pollack’s best film (in fact, of the five films nominated that year, it’s easily the fifth best of the bunch). It’s too satisfied with its “scope” to be anything more than a pandering awards season picture. It has some nice, quiet moments between its two leads (nothing new for a Pollack film), but the episodic nature of the narrative left me feeling cold. In fact, while watching Out of Africa, my mind was drawn to 1995’s The English Patient (another film that feels like a false epic): an apt comparison in that it too was just an okay movie with some decent performances that isn’t nearly as romantic or sweeping in its scope as the Academy hype wants us to believe. I certainly didn’t have any Elaine Benes outbursts while watching Out of Africa, but it did fill me with a kind of apathy that I’ve rarely felt while working my way through Pollack’s films (the only thing that really comes close is Absence of Malice or Bobby Deerfield).