Vanilla Sky (2001)

(In theaters, December 2001) As a fan of the original Spanish film Abre Los Ojos, I must say that I like Vanilla Sky even more: The story hits closer by simple virtue of being American, and director Cameron Crowe has polished many of the most annoying rough edges of the first film. The New York setting is used to spectacular effect (oh, an empty Times Square!), and the personality of the lead character is more defined here than in Abre Los Ojos. The best change, however, is in the role played by Cameron Diaz, whose Natalie is far more human, and sympathetic, than in the original. Of course, the best thing about Crowe’s adaptation is that he doesn’t fiddle with the concept of the film, and allows the twisty, shocking revelations to occur at roughly the same pace. Well, very roughly the same pace: One thing to dislike about this new version is that it’s quite longer, and consequently not as meanly efficient. Still, I felt pretty much the same growing respect for Vanilla Sky than Abre Los Ojos as the film progressed. As usual with Crowe’s films, the soundtrack is well-chosen, though definitely intrusive at times. (The worst being the use of the Beach Boy’s “Good Vibrations”… though it’s a safe bet that no one will forget that scene, which manages to milk real emotion out of someone shouting “Tech Support!”) It’s a film that might very well take more than one viewing to fully appreciate. Oh, and another thing: I absolutely love how much all the advertising for the film made it look like yet another Tom Cruise film… when it’s so much more devious than that!

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