Posts Tagged movies
The Words is the second movie I’ve seen in which Bradley Cooper plays a guy who wants to be a novelist but is having a difficult time getting started. In both movies, his character cheats in some way to get over the initial hump, but in Limitless, at least the creativity is his. Oh, and Limitless is not a waste of two perfectly good hours.
The lessons of The Words are, basically:
1. The publishing industry is so fucked up that it kind of, sort of, forces otherwise well-meaning writers to plagiarize.
2. Always save duplicate copies of your manuscript, even if you don’t keep them all in safe places.
Also: Jeremy Irons needs to learn a better American accent. Dude, if you don’t like the way we sound, then don’t play us in movies.
In a day that was way more trouble than it was worth until the movie began, I went downtown and saw Brave.
First of all: fabulous movie. Totally worth the endless procession of ads and previews the theater made us sit through before they started the feature.
Second: surprisingly enough, I actually don’t mind the trope of the fierce redhead heroine. As a person who had to go through the hassle of growing up a red-haired child, I think there’s some truth to the idea of redhead girls as ferocious and independent. It’s not that we’re born that way, it’s that we develop that way as a survival mechanism. If you had to deal with the attention that I did growing up, you’d be fierce and stubborn, too.
It is a very thoughtful, nuanced study of a mother-daughter relationship, first and foremost. It wouldn’t be a kids’ movie if they did an honest exploration of the horrors of forced marriage, but they give the topic its due within the limits of the target audience by pointing out that actually, it is not in the interests of a couple of teenagers to be set up in a marriage for reasons other than that they have actually gotten to know each other and decided they want to marry. Most of all, it’s about the relationship between Merida and her mother, Elinor. If there’s a basic no-brainer life lesson, it is: when you purchase a magic spell to make your mom act differently, you need to be specific about the changes to be made. Otherwise you will end up turning your mom into a dangerous wild animal and plunging your kingdom into pandemonium. Just saying.
If Cameron Crowe’s goal in making Elizabethtown was to make Kentuckians look like a bunch of ridiculous assholes, he certainly got the job done. It’s really not very interesting, though, to assure the audience that “flyover” territory isn’t worth visiting, if you don’t have any brave new insights into what makes the difference. “Oh, look, rural Southerners are empty-headed hicks, I’m so original!” Yawn.
Since I live on the East Coast, would they insist that I’m from New York?
Picture the most godawful, intelligence-insultingly bad movie ever, but make sure it’s full of perky boobs, and what you bring to mind will describe Showgirls.
Yes, that will be the confession: I have seen Showgirls. (Shut up, this is what Netflix is for. It’s so you can satisfy your curiosity about shitty movies at minimal expense.)
I’ll give it this much: it is so hilariously stupid that it crosses well into “so bad it’s good” territory. So I don’t regret having put it into my Netflix queue nearly as much as a dull downer like Margot at the Wedding or an incomprehensible WTF-fest like Synecdoche, New York. However, I do have a suggestion for something that probably would have made it even more fun to watch.
Less of that James dude, more of Elizabeth Berkley making out with Gina Gershon.
The whole storyline with James is pointless; it leads precisely nowhere and it contributes nothing to the plot. It’s not even anywhere near as entertaining as most of the dance numbers or nekkid scenes. It lends nowhere near the pathos that the director seems to think it does. So, since the movie is obviously invested in hot nekkid bodies far more than in plausible storytelling or coherent characterization, just cut out everything with James after he bails her out of jail (or just have Molly bail her out of jail, for that matter), and fill up the extra time with more of Nomi locking lips with Cristal. Because that part was hot, the storyline was even kind of compelling, and the payoff took way too damn long.
But all that said, I also found it kind of jarring to see Elizabeth Berkley’s mostly godawful performance in this terrible movie. I kept seeing Jessie’s face from Saved by the Bell and was all offended to see her portraying this nonsensical character. It’s like part of my adolescence has been vandalized. Although, the part where Nomi beats the shit out of that Andrew Carver creep? Awesome.
Burlesque looks like someone thought it would be a good idea to cross-breed Moulin Rouge with Coyote Ugly and rip off the shiny parts of Chicago while they were at it. It has neither the storytelling skills at work in Moulin Rouge nor the sense of humor, and while Coyote Ugly was not much a movie in itself, it showed far more sincerity and backbone than Burlesque. We didn’t need a movie to show us that Christina Aguilera is a far better singer than Nicole Kidman, but apparently we did need a movie to show us that she’s not even half the actress.
There are some effective moments, such as: Alan Cumming threatening to wash Aguilera’s mouth out with Jagermeister, Aguilera hiding behind ostrich-feather fans while wearing nothing but a few strategically placed strings of pearls, and Cher moving towards a mother-figure role with Aguilera, but they’re all very brief and truncated. The trope of “humble but talented girl from middle of nowhere makes good in big city” is satisfying if done right, but the script has no interest in taking the time to develop Aguilera’s character, and she is far too pleased with herself to make us care about Ali from Iowa.
There is something profoundly obnoxious about a couple of really skinny women making a show of struggling into new jeans after eating pizza. I’m sitting there thinking, “Listen, gals, why don’t you try closing a new pair of jeans over MY hips and MY gut,” while they don’t even show the slightest of muffin tops. I get that if a super-skinny woman suddenly becomes slightly-less-skinny, she will need to buy new clothes just like an average-size woman who becomes slightly larger, but would it really have been so difficult to make Julia Roberts and Tuva Novotny look like they’ve actually gained a little Neopolitan pizza pudge?
(However, on a different note: the movie does not take pains to make Italy look like a lovely, romantic place. It looks dirty, dilapidated, unconstructed and chaotic, and Liz Gilbert loves it anyway. I appreciate that honesty. Additionally, I fucking DARE any horny Roman jackass to run up and grab my generous American caboose. Hope you enjoy my sensibly shod foot up your balls, cupcake!)
Here’s the lesson learned from watching Blow (2001, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz):
If you make tens of millions of dollars as a drug dealer…
DO NOT STORE ALL YOUR MONEY IN A SINGLE ACCOUNT.
Especially when that single account is in a country whose culture and political climate you do not understand very well. Leave that much money sitting around in one place, and you never know what might happen to it.
When you’re sitting on $60 million from selling Colombian cocaine, spread it over several bank accounts, preferably in several countries. Eggs, baskets and all that.
(I’m sure that’s not really the lesson I was supposed to draw from the movie. It’s more about the dangers of working with criminals, and the ephemeral nature of wealth. For practical purposes, however? Get more than one bank account, or your ass belongs to Panama.)
I spent the afternoon of Christmas Eve wrapping presents and watching The Kids Are All Right, and the reaction that Cholodenko probably didn’t intend for me to have was that it made me feel sorry for Annette Bening’s character.
In a word?
Disappointing. Read the rest of this entry »
Both The Station Agent and Adam risk the “disadvantaged white person with valued black friend” trope, but what’s interesting about the two is that Adam puts more effort in the script to make Harlan (the valued friend of Adam) a more robust character, and yet The Station Agent much more successfully gets away with the trope.
There is a clear background for Adam’s rapport with Harlan; Adam’s father was best friends with Harlan, they were in the service together, and so it makes sense that Harlan would be involved in Adam’s childhood and know (much better than most neurotypicals) how to interact with him. Therefore, it is perfectly understandable that Harlan would be the guy who is there for Adam when his father dies.
And yet, the character still comes across as the movie cliche of stalwart black person as needy white person’s support system. (See also, The Secret Life of Bees) In The Station Agent, Fin’s employer is barely present on the screen, and yet the awkward aroma of Tired Racial Trope doesn’t hang over the screen to nearly the same extent. Perhaps that’s because he’s barely present, and therefore has less time to prop up Peter Dinklage’s character? Or perhaps it’s because the employer’s death is what motivates Fin to get the heck out of Dodge and meet other people who see him as a guy named Fin who’s new in town and likes trains, rather than as a nameless midget. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s because, although he has far more time on screen and far more personality, Harlan in Adam isn’t nearly as vital to the plot. Perhaps the difference is that one movie invests all its characterization in the principals, while the other manages to create supporting characters with some depth.