Saturday, April 17, 2010
Holy hell. Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore had better have lost a bet. That is the only explanation for their appearance in this embarrassment. Did anyone read the script before signing their contract? My guess is no. Amanda Seyfried has paid her dues at this point, and I'm waiting for her to show up in something worthy other than Mean Girls. She's kind of alien-hot, right? Very pretty girl, but her eyes are way too far apart, and I could not stop noticing.
This was advertised as a thriller. It is many things, but a thriller is certainly not one of them. I expected to at least get a thrill out of it, what with all the boning that goes on and gets talked about, but no. Sexless sex, all of it. And the weirdest on-screen pairing of all time, maybe. That'd be Moore and Seyfried. Yup. That was awkward. It was supposed to be titillating (sorry) and salacious, but wound up being confusing and kind of funny.
Very short plot rundown: Moore plays a gynecologist, because everything in the damned movie is about poon, who thinks her husband, Neeson, is cheating on her (because he neglected to show up at his surprise birthday party and also he's a college professor and how many male college professors don't diddle their bright young things?) so she hires a prostitute (Seyfried), who, according to herself has always been good with words...to try to seduce him and then tell her all about what happened, in great detail. Good plan, sweets. Clearly things take a swift turn for the gay and forbidden. But it's funny even before that happens.
In a way, I'm happy that I saw this in a movie theater as opposed to Netflixing it. This way, I did not have the option of walking out (not after paying $12.50!), and I was comforted by the confused laughter around me. It's always helpful to know that you're not the only one who thinks they're watching a piece of crap. I hardly even minded the couple sitting behind me who literally did not stop chatting once during the entire movie. Not once. And if I'm not driven to homicidal rage by audience participation, it's a bad sign.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I've been wanting to write about this for a while now, but I'm not sure if I can give it the respect it deserves. This book is so incredibly layered and complex that it's nearly impossible to write about. The beauty, the joy, and the deep sadness that run through the novel are so dense and perfect that it seems almost criminal to write about them, like I might ruin everything. But if we don't write about we see, what touches us, then how will anyone know what we think? So I'm going to try. Maybe I'll fail, but I'm going to do my best.
Christopher Isherwood's novel, A Single Man, takes place over the course of a single day in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. Our main character, George, is in the throes of grief, having recently lost his lover in an accident. We follow him from his bed back to his bed, and in between we are floating just above his head, and marveling at what he sees and what he thinks. We teach his Classics class with him, we meet his friends and we join his conversations. Most importantly, though, we grasp exactly how difficult it really is to be alive. We all play a part, don't we? We are who people wish us to be, and to veer from that would be rude and useless.
There are so many passages and sentences from this novel that I wanted to drink in and hold onto forever, and so I'll share a few with you. It's the kind of writing that makes me insanely jealous not to have written, but lucky to have read.
Obediently, it washes, shaves, brushes its hair, for it accepts its responsibilities to the others. It is even glad that it has its place among them. It knows what is expected of it.
It knows its name. It is called George.
The overpowering sloth of sadness is upon him. The sloth that ends in going to bed and staying there until you develop some disease.
You could flirt but you couldn't fight; there wasn't even room to smack someone's face.
These are only a few examples of what I consider to be perfection on the page. Some bits of this novel take multiple readings in order to fully understand and inhale. And so you do just that. It took me much longer to read this than I had thought it would. Such simple writing, but so much within it.
The film, which, full disclosure, I saw before reading the book, is also gorgeous. Some people have described it as pretentious, but I say poo to you, silly cow. Tom Ford (the fashion maven, yes) managed to film this seemingly impossible-to-film book. He captured thoughts on camera and the film is sort of a series of paintings strung together. Colin Firth works his magic with his eyes and his entire soul. It is not sentimental in the least, though, which would have been a terrible fate.
So that is my try at talking about this book. I'm afraid it's more than a little muddled. So try reading it yourself and let me know if it changed your life as much as it changed mine.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Whoa. Dakota Fanning needs to BACK UP, CALM DOWN, and BE A VERY YOUNG GIRL AGAIN. Because now I'm freaked out and confused. I know I said almost exactly that in response to her appearance in New Moon, but she was wearing a cape in that movie, and here, she's wearing underpants, snorting crushed up pills off the floor, and having sex with Kristen Stewart. So I am, as I said, confused. What I am not confused about is that this was a pretty freaking good movie, and that Kristen Stewart makes me feel a little funny.
You do not necessarily have to know The Runaways' songs or history before watching this movie, but it wouldn't hurt to read up on them a little. You know who Joan Jett is, right? Good start. You know the song Cherry Bomb, yeah? It's on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack, and you've seen that movie. Right? And you might know who Lita Ford is. I didn't, until a friend a generation ahead of me laughed at my lack of knowledge and told me to listen to Kiss Me Deadly, at which point I was enlightened.
This is pre-I Love Rock and Roll Joan Jett. This is a whole band earlier, when these girls were in high school, or at least were high school age. Guitar player Joan was busy sniffing glue and dreaming of starting a band. Lead singer Cherie Currie (Fanning) was 15, working at Pups n Fries with her lookalike sister, and right on the cusp of massive fame and, very shortly after, a complete breakdown and end of singing career, which we get to witness. Stewart plays Jett, and looks the part, even cutting her own hair into the gross '75 mullet instead of using a wig, which most actresses would have done. Fanning trips around in Bowie-style platforms and Farrah hair and proves herself far beyond a child star. She's a real person now.
These two girls, along with lead guitarist Ford, bassist Robin (who seems to be a mishmash of several bassists the band went through), and drummer Sandy West, become The Runaways, managed and abused (verbally) by Kim Fowley, gloriously played by Michael Shannon, who was the best part of Revolutionary Road.
The girls do their own singing, and, I imagine, play their own instruments, and they do a damn good job. It's easy to forget here and there that they were really just kids. But sometimes, as in the very first shot of the movie, it's only too clear. I won't spoil the moment for you. A few events are left out of the film, as they must be, for running time's sake and plotlines. But what is there is hard, raw, hot, and rock n roll.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Good grief. Loads of fun, and soppy beyond reason. This is what happens when Britain realizes it cannot possibly film another rendition of a Jane Austen novel. They film a miniseries rendition of a Jane Austen novel with a modern person thrown into the mix to bash the plot about and ruin the novel as originally written, and entertain the pants off the audience. Of course, the audience has to be Austen-loving going into it, so if you hate all things empire-waisted, don't bother. I love all that stuff, so I had a blast watching this. It is treacly to the point that the friend I was watching it with felt compelled to say "sop, utter sop" aloud every once in a while, just in case I hadn't noticed...but she said it with such glee each time that it was glorious. AND we got to point out all the actors we recognized from other British works (hey, that's the other girl from Hex!!), and what's more fun than that?
You can skip the first 10 minutes of this miniseries, as it is awful. Here's what you'll miss: Amanda Price, a bored 20-something lady in London (Jemima Rooper, a girl from Hex) who keeps her copy of Pride and Prejudice on her person like a baby blanket, and longs for true love like that of Lizzie Bennett and Mr Darcy (specifically Mr Darcy as played by Colin Firth, MEOW -- and incidentally one of the funniest moments in the miniseries is a piss-take on that version). So naturally she is dating a boorish cad, the anti-Darcy.
After the too-long exposition, during which Elizabeth Bennett appears in Amanda's bathroom, they switch places, and hilarity ensues. So do ill-fitting marriages, a head wound, public drunkenness, and Sappho's poetry. Jane Austen probably didn't intend for that part to happen. Mr Darcy, played by the lovely Eliot Cowan, who you've never heard of, and nor had I, (hello, biceps) is sufficiently rude, but not charming enough by a mile. Rooper gets to purse her lips and tell people like it is for 3 hours, which she's sure good at, Emma Arterton (Strawberry Fields in the last James Bond movie) is Elizabeth Bennett in jeans with a cell phone, and Alex Kingston spends her time having fits. It turns out she's funny. Good girl.
As I said, this is a girly girly girly girl movie. There will be squealing. There might be crying. There will be comparisons to other Austen renditions. If you can't stomach that, leave the house and let us drool over Darcy in peace.