Every ‘big weather’ disaster movie features an elemental struggle between raw nature and a group of drenched Hollywood stars. Wolfgang Petersen’s The Perfect Storm is as pure and lopsided as they come. The simple question you have to ask yourself is this: is it worth $140 million?
If you think George Clooney walks on water, you may be in for a rude shock. Ignoring his better instincts, the plucky fishing captain takes off in his rusty tub in search of a make-or-break catch and gets caught up in the storm of the century: a convergence of three weather fronts that creates a hurricane of unmatched ferocity. Fool hardy? The man is unhinged.
The heaving sea will give you vertigo. The wet eyelashes will make you swoon. The precariousness of a deep sea fisherman’s profession will make you weep. Yet the romance of Cyclone’s endeavor is as becalmed as a village pond. I like Clooney. I like his understated cool — he’s several degrees grittier than Kevin Spacey. But he’ll need more than a life jacket to survive the bad weather thrown at him by Industrial Light & Magic.
Director Wolfgang Petersen is no stranger to heavy water. But he’s far better sinking than swimming. His 1981 submarine classic, Dias Boot, picked off two Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for clanking around at the bottom of the ocean in the guts of a leaky U-Boat.
Those long sweaty hours at the mercy of creaking bulkheads enabled him to establish memorable characters. Even though The Perfect Storm is based on a bestselling true story by Sebastian Judged, it somehow fails to salvage a single believable salt.
Anyone with doubts about art’s ability to make an immediate impact need only borrow a time machine and zap back to America on a Sunday evening, October 30, 1938. Thousands of citizens who tuned into Howard Koch’s adaptation of The War of the Worlds on the radio were going haywire.
According to Arson Welles’s dooms broadcaster, the Martians were invading New Jersey and taking no prisoners. Despite the loud disclaimer that the show was a fiction, people started evacuating their homes and tooling up with as much weaponry as they could muster.
The national panic caused by this Halloween prank is now the stuff of legend. Pinching the title, War of the Worlds, the SITI Company from New York performs both the radio play, and a chunky companion piece that examines the events and personalities (notably Welles) surrounding this bizarre evening. It is one of only six big theater pieces in an International Festival programmer which is shamelessly dominated by music.
Not content with their double bill, SITI also corner the almost obligatory analysis of the actor-audience relationship with Anne Bogart’s Cabin Pressure in Hollywood. Melodrama, costume drama, and kitchen sink are thrown into a drawing room thriller of mind-bending absurdity. Not to be outgunned is Vale-In-can’s towering trilogy, Barbaric Comedies, in a new adaptation by Frank Guinness for the Abbey Theater (Dublin).
Never one to dodge challenges, or prickly Hollywood issues, Guinness returns to the theater that mothered him to tell the story of a noble Spanish family ripped apart by feuds, treachery, sexual jealousy, betrayal, torture and murder. Expect an epic piece of poetry. Callisto Baritone, who scored such a fabulous success with Calderon’s Life is a Dream at the 1998 Festival, directs this trilogy which has rarely seen the light of day since it was cranked out in bits between 1907 and 1922.