Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Reviews
The flamboyant drag queen Lady Chablis whom just happens to play herself/himself in the film!
Luther Driggers the man whom walked around with flies buzzing all around him (They were attached to him via string)! Oh yeah he also carries a vial full of poison just like he does in the film!
Minerva the local voodoo high priestess!
Mr. Glover the man walking a dead dog named Patrick!
I'm a sucker for strong character driven plots and this film is bursting at the seams with quirky, eccentric characters that add flavor to the film as much as they do in the real world!
I remember this book being an excellent read. One of those, "I know it's getting close to two o'clock in the morning, but I want to get through just one more chapter...and maybe just one more after that" kinds of books. I'm reading one of those right now. "The Historian." Up 'til three with it; I've already been to the drive-thru Starbucks for a venti cappuccino.
I admit, I frequent Starbucks, because I can get a cappuccino to go. I guess I could stop in at the Italian restaurant down the street and order a cappuccino, but then I would have to brush my hair and get dressed and sit there with it, not smoking because you can't smoke anywhere anymore. I prefer throwing on a pair of shorts, zipping over to the drive-thru Starbucks, ordering my cappuccino and coming home to smoke a half pack of cigarettes with it. Plus, the people-watching while waiting in line is fantastic. Today, there was a ditzy blonde in a Passat who couldn't drive a stick-shift. She kept backing up then going forward, chattering away on her cell phone (at 9:30 on Sunday morning...who's awake to answer the phone?), and when she pulled up to the window, she exchanged an empty Starbucks cup for a brand new Starbucks cup, and I couldn't help but laugh, imagining her caffeine-filled life. She was obviously a perky thing. I could see her through her back window, bopping up and down, looking for something on her passenger seat, looking in the back seat, looking in the mirror, talking, talking, talking, throwing that skinny food-deprived arm out the window like a frog's tongue zapping a juicy fly to snatch her venti non-fat carmel macchiato with a double-shot of espresso (by the way, it is espresso, not EX-presso), then almost mowing down a mother and her two children (all dressed in matching T-shirts and boldly colored Capri pants) in her spastic effort to get into first gear and zoom away to do lord knows what...certainly not eat or smoke or sit on her rump in front of the computer composing anything, except maybe filling in her spreadsheet of Weight Watchers points. "Um, um, um, let's see, 500 calories for morning coffee plus 500 calories for afternoon coffee plus one stick of sugar-free gum. Okay, I'm done!"
So back to "Midnight"...
I've found that when I read a book before seeing it executed on the big screen, I'm generally disappointed in the film. Books are wonderful things. I don't read as much as I should because I'm an extremely slow reader. I soak in every word, making images in my mind, sometimes going back to a previous chapter to remember something important. The Color Purple, A Room With a View, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Michael Crichton's Sphere especially...all books I prefer to the films. Add "Midnight" to the list.
Clint Eastwood is a talented director, no question; but I think he tried to bite off more than he could chew with this film. The BOOK paints a wonderfully descriptive picture of Savannah, Georgia and its inhabitants. You become completely absorbed in the atmosphere, and for a few hours of reading time, you feel as if you're there, you know the characters intimately.
A book has the luxury of space to tell its story; whereas, film is limited to several hours, unless you're as courageous as Peter Jackson, who understood that retelling a tale as sacrosanct as The Lord of the Rings requires the proper combination of reverence, balls, bankroll and time.
"Midnight" the book introduced a wealth of characters, experiences, surroundings and impressions that united to create a whole. "Midnight" the movie is a disjointed mish-mash of confusing and uninteresting incidents and half-conversations. If The Book is a perfectly baked loaf of bread, The Movie is nothing but crumbs.
A great deal of time is spent on The Lady Chablis. Yes, she's a curious character, and I delighted in reading about her; but watching scene after scene of The Lady Chablis when, in trying to determine what the focus of the movie is, you mechanically focus on the trial of Jim Williams, you ask yourself, "What is the point of her?" It's not like she sheds any revolutionary light on the relationship between Jim and that nasty Jude Law. She doesn't hold the key to the mystery; she's simply a curiosity. My mother made an interesting observation. She said that in the scenes between John Cusak and The Lady Chablis, Cusak always looks like he's keeping an arm's-length distance from her, like he's not quite sure what? this person is...like he doesn't get it, and it makes him nervous.
Minerva, the VooDoo priestess, comes off like a campy narrator in a local production of "Our Town." From her park bench in the opening scene, I fully expected her to break into: "Up here is Main Street, and here's the Town Hall and Post Office combined. First automobile's going to come along in about five years; belonged to Banker Cartwright, our richest citizen, lives in the big white house up on the hill." I can't stand it when characters merely laugh like they have some special insight that they're not going to share with the audience because that's supposed to make them "mysterious." I can see the script in my head: Minerva chuckles and nods. "Skylark" Up. Segue to slow C-U of graveyard. (snore.)
The editing is weird, staccato. Incidents and conversations are cut off with no apparent resolution or point. They don't lead to the next scene; we go to something completely different, and about 10 minutes later, you're left wondering, "Well, what was the point of what he said back there?" or "Why did she have that look in her eye?" If this is some lame attempt to force the viewer into making his or her own assessment, it doesn't work.
Eastwood, in his limited time frame, only gives us glimpses of the characters and environment that writer John Berendt fleshed out for us so beautifully in his novel. I love John Cusak, but his character is so bland, they could have propped up a cardboard cut-out of Cusak smirking in every scene and used his million-dollar salary to pay the catering bill. Jude Law apparently thinks that southern people always stand with their knees apart. I'm surprised he didn't ask for a pair of suspenders he could hook his thumbs through.
Kevin Spacey as Jim Williams and Jack Thompson as his attorney were the only two mildly believable and somewhat intriguing characters in this film; and I think the only reason I was interested in Spacey was because he had a mustache.
Sorry, Clint. You didn't make my day with this effort.