Author and teacher
Where and with whom did you see the movie?
I saw the movie with my wife, Mika McKinney, at Kahala.
Overall, what did you think?
While full of ultra-stylized costumes, set design and choreography, Anna Karenina is an obvious, self-conscious attempt to win the hearts of Academy voters. At this point, the award season recipe is cliche: Rewrite a tough-to-adapt classic novel, showcase an angst-filled, teary-eyed pretty face, and fill the screen with not-so-subtle physical manifestations of inner turmoil mostly consisting of dramatic pauses and clenched jaws and fists. Don’t get me wrong. Anna Karenina is a beautiful movie – the talent and expertise of its director, actors, cinematographer, musical director, and costume and set designers are on full display. However, ultimately, it’s a movie full of technique, not heart. It feels like a film that the producers made in order to win awards, not a movie that they felt needed to be made.
Without giving away the ending, what was one of your favorite scenes?
Much of the action in the movie takes place in a real theater, an homage to the Shakespearean notion that “all the world’s a stage.” Dances and even a horse race take place in this theater setting. Ingenious set design is used to transition from one scene to the next – gears roll, and what looks like a mural backdrop turns into a three-dimensional set piece. Very creative.
On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film?
What did you think of the cinematography?
The movie was beautifully filmed. From panoramics of farmers sickling grass in unison to closeups of Keira Knightley’s high-cheekboned face, the film looks fantastic. Maybe too good?
There’s very little sense of real-world dirt.
Was the message/theme clear?
The theme was crystal-clear. While adulterous men are often slapped on the wrist for their indiscretions, like incorrigible children caught in the act of cookie theft, adulterous women are scorned by most of society, especially other women. Imagine if it were Elin instead of Tiger. It’s a theme still relevant today.
Did it remind you of any other work in film?
The movie reminded me of part Atonement and part Hugo. In fact, I imagine it was pitched that way.
To whom would you recommend this movie?
I would recommend this movie to fans of period pieces who dislike physical action and fleshed-out characters in film.
Did any of the actors stand out?
Everyone was good, but Jude Law stood out the most, probably because he plays a soft-spoken, aging (and balding) government official. We’re not used to seeing him play this kind of part and he does it quite well.
Did you identify with any of the characters?
I sympathized, but did not identify. I have very little in common with 19th century Russian aristocrats. If one of the farmer characters was fleshed out, I may have been able to identify.
On a different note, what’s new with you?
My new novel, Boi No Good, has just been released. It’s available at bookstores and on amazon.com (a Kindle version is available, as well). My wife and I also run the Chris McKinney Language
Arts Center. Visit chrismckinneylac.com for more information.