I was actually really enjoying the first half of “Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot,” despite not knowing what Tina Fey’s character wanted, the many themes the story juggled, and how sexually repressed this movie was. “Sexual repression” is fine (most American films suffer it), expect that this story pretended like it was the opposite, like a teenage girl who talks like she slept with a bunch of dudes, but in reality is still a virgin. Of course, this is also okay for a story if it’s about a teenager girl (“American Beauty”), but it’s about a woman in her 40s, so the innocence aspect doesn’t get a wash. My point is, despite all of these faults, I was very much enjoying this movie. I was entertained.
But what’s interesting about being entertained and not being entertained is, you when you are entertained, you let all sorts of things go (do a search on the excessive continuity problems in Scorsese films and you’ll be shocked. You didn’t notice them because the director was so in command of what you were seeing). When you’re not entertained, the most microscopic thing becomes monstrously unavoidable. In the case of WTF, it was Tina Fay’s hair. This is the Breach of Reality I’d like to discus today.
I know many people watch movies to see glamorous actors looking beautiful and attractive, so this spawns an interesting debate. I like to watch a story and get sucked in it. My Mother, she likes to see attractive people, so she’d disagree with me. Most Hollywood films, if they’re any good, will be there most entertaining in the first half. There’s a simple reason for this, the first act is when you can be your most creative, the second half is when you have to pay your debts. And the masters (Billy Wilder, Woody Allen, Hitchcock) know how to pay their debts. The second half of their films are more often better than their first halves.
But if you’re not a master and you make WTF, you’re running out of fuel by the 40 minute mark. The audience is going,”okay, what’s next? You’ve had me for 40, give me more.” But you have no more fuel. That curtain that obscures backstage, the audience is now looking through every nook, every crack until they can’t stand it anymore and someone actually goes up there and pulls that curtain open.
And that’s when you see Tina Fey’s hair. I have nothing against Tina Fey. I’m not a fan or nonfan. I liked her Sarah Palin impressions. She seems really cool in Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. She’s an entertainer you aspire to be like. But I couldn’t stand her hair falling over her forehead for like the 100th time. That was like the curtain blowing up slightly to backstage. The first 99 times it happened, when Tina Fey’s perfect locks graced her forehead, I did not see it. But when the movie fell, I started to ask myself, why is her hair always perfect? Afghanistan is about 114 degrees. Why isn’t her hair matted? Why isn’t she sweaty from the heat? Why aren’t her clothes drenched? This is when you really appreciate a master like Sergio Leone. In his Westerns, cowboys were sweaty, dirty, had flies on their face, even women didn’t escape this (Claudia Cardinale in “Once Upon a Time in The West”).
You can argue that it’s very important to Tina Fey for her hair to be right. I know that actors are very particular about certain aspects of their looks. I don’t blame them for protecting that. But there’s one thing I’ve noticed about great actors, they’re not afraid to look ugly. Who can ever forget Russell Crowe’s cheese-like snot, when he wept for his dead family in “Gladiator.” And I had to turn away in that scene, because who wants to see snot on anyone’s face? But you know, that mucus got him the Oscar.
Tina Fey’s hair just kept falling over her forehead, again and again and again, and maybe it didn’t even happen as many times as I perceived. But that’s the power of the curtain getting lifted. Now, you see more than you want to see. You stop looking at what’s on stage altogether. You’re just seeing only backstage. And poof, your suspension of disbelief is gone.
See how reality got breached in “When Harry Met Sally”.
Written by: Norith Soth