The Weather Man is a fine movie, beautifully acted, but it isn't easy to love—or to watch. It's a parade of miseries, made even more miserable by Gore Verbinski's direction. Best known for Pirates of the Caribbean and The Ring, Verbinski is a skilled and thoughtful filmmaker, but he tends to come up with one big visual idea and stick to it. The movie takes place in a snowy Chicago, and there isn't a smidge of red or green in sight. The palette of the cinematographer Phedon Papamichael is all white and gray and ice blue, with droning ambient music (by Hans Zimmer). And apart from Spritz's slouch, the screen is full of hard lines—bare straight trees, faceless skyscrapers, metal desks, and glass partitions.
The film is so perfectly worked out that it's suffocating. When David became obsessed with archery, my Metaphor Meter began to click: Archery makes physical the idea that David is trying to find his focus, to straighten himself out in a universe of swirling winds and unpredictible currents. And Cage is a little suffocating, too: Good as he is at lurching around with his eyes shocked open and arms spread beseechingly, he's too familiar a spectacle. As always, the Cage stands alone.
Now for that unfortunate subplot that I mentioned above—which is probably a spoiler: When David's teenage son is wooed and then accosted by a creepy pedophile drug counselor (Gil Bellows), the way this absent father proves himself is by beating the guy up.
Let me be clear: I have no moral problem with beating up pedophiles. I would like to beat up one myself. In fact, life would be simpler if we could all prove our worth and devotion to our loved ones by finding predatory pedophiles to beat up. Thank heaven there aren't enough of them to go around—except in movies, where they slither in on cue to demonstrate how righteous violence has a way of cutting cleanly through spiritual and interpersonal tangles. The beat-up-the-pedophile bit belongs in a different kind of film, in which the characters aren't so black-and-white and the resolutions so tidy. Which means it will probably be the multiplex audience's favorite scene… 3:33 p.m. PT
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Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.