Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) (Movie Review 58 of 2011 AD)

©2011 Warner Brothers
Movie review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)
Steve Carell
Ryan Gosling
Julianne Moore
Emma Stone
Analeigh Tipton
Marisa Tomei 
Jonah Bobo

118 min.

The Actors
Steve Carell has a great scene with nephew Dwayne (Paul Dano), as the uncle with healing wrists in Little Miss Sunshine (2006).
Ryan Gosling is taking over your movie theater: Drive just opened, and The Ides of March premieres next week. Both movies have Gosling all over them.
Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right (2010)).
Emma Stone (Easy A (2010)).
Analeigh Tipton (Hung (TV)).
Jonah Bobo (Zathura (2005)).
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler (2008)).

The Rating
Sentimental stalking: the key to marriage-repair.
©2011 Warner Brothers
PG-13 for course humor, sexual content and language (MPAA).

The Story Begins
Cal Weaver (Carell) gets drunk and spreads the word to everyone in a fancy bar that his wife Emily has been cheating on him and wants a divorce. Jacob (Gosling) takes Cal aside to tell him that he has invited cuckolding and rejection with his New Balance sneakers, ill-fitting jacket and cheap haircut. Using friendly slaps to Cal's face to punctuate many of his sentences, Jacob offers to help him "rediscover" his "manhood," not by looking down but by dressing stylishly, appearing wealthy, speaking confidently and having sexual intercourse with a different woman every night, as Jacob does. Hanna (Stone) refuses to be one of Jacob's different women, and you know what that means according to the rules of romantic comedy. Meanwhile, the Weavers' babysitter is seven years younger than the actress who plays her, so Danny (Bobo), who still carries the scent of the womb, figures he has a shot.

Oh, no diseases for me tonight. Thanks, though!
©2011 Warner Brothers

What I think

In real life, if you're going to move swiftly from woman to woman, it would seem prudent to move just as quickly from fancy bar to fancy bar, but Jacob doesn't need to do that. He's the mythical carefree playboy: accused of leading a shallow, empty life, but never called a sexual predator and never shunned or scowled at as a "user" by the nightclub regulars.

Some comments on movie websites quote Jacob's lines and complain of sexism. I'd say there's a big difference between portraying something and being something, but the message boards are missing a more interesting point.

Jackie berates Callie for getting discarded by her husband.
©2011 Warner Brothers

Here, let's imagine the genders of Crazy, Stupid, Love reversed:

CALLIE: My husband just left me, and he slept with some woman at the office!

JACKIE: Well, it's no wonder: you've certainly let yourself go. I'm going to make you over and teach you how to get into a man's pants more effectively. You know, rediscover your femininity.

It's unfair, though, to attack a screenplay for making nonjudgmental observations about human nature. Better to first address the accuracy of each problematic point, in case it isn't the words themselves that offend you, but the truth of them.

No! It doesn't help that you're "getting hair down there!"
©2011 Warner Brothers

Is it true, then, that we're obligated to court our spouses tirelessly, for the rest of our lives, because they're "only human" and may "stray?" Is counting on them to remain faithful on your bad hair days the same as taking them for granted? If "working late" comes to mean "exchanging bodily fluids with Jamie from accounting," is it the cheater's fault for cheating? Is it your fault for working too many Saturdays, getting flabby from lack of exercise, wearing the wrong shoes and forgetting to compliment your spouse on wearing the right shoes? Is your spouse at fault for failing to love and cherish you no matter how rotten your teeth have become and how bad you smell? Do you share the blame equally? Or is "fault" a useless concept in a struggling marriage in which you're both flawed, make mistakes and blah, blah, blah?

Liza Lapira of Traffic Light (TV), looking at someone.
©2011 Warner Brothers

Why you should see it
  • You want to master the romantic arts of deception and manipulation, in order to feel better about yourself.
  • You love it when a movie deceives and manipulates you with a far-fetched plot twist.
  • Emma Stone is not flabby and wears the right shoes.
  • There's such a thick layer of Gosling, it's just about dripping from certain frames.
Why you shouldn't see it
  • You're an executive at New Balance or at The Gap and think there was no reason Cal couldn't rediscover his manhood in New Balance sneakers and Gap khaki cargo pants.
  • You resent Steve Carell for leaving The Office.
  • You resent Steve Carell for the part he played in converting a pointed and dark British indictment of corporate culture into a neutered puppy for American television.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Hurt Locker

©2008 Summit Entertainment
The Hurt Locker (2008), starring Jeremy Renner.

[EDITED 16 March 2016]

The Hurt Locker won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The Director
Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar © Winner, Best Achievement in Directing)

The Writer 
Mark Boal (Oscar © Winner, Best Original Screenplay)

The Actors
Jeremy Renner (The Town), Anthony Mackie (Notorious), Brian Geraghty (Jarhead), Guy Pierce (Memento), Ralph Fiennes (the noseless one in the Harry Potter movies),  and Saint Elsewhere's David Morse.

The Story
Sergeant First Class William James (Renner) becomes team leader of an Army bomb squad in Iraq in 2004.  He breaks rules and constantly puts himself and his team at risk, and we often wonder when he is being noble and when he is merely being reckless.

Watching The Hurt Locker, I kept in mind the criticisms I had heard in 2009 (its year of release in the US) from some active and retired military, that real bomb squad personnel would not be, or be allowed to be, so reckless. However SFC James is presented as an anomaly from the beginning, so if we accept higher-up Colonel Reed (David Morse) as another anomaly (and pretend for two hours and change that there are no safeguards against such anomalies in our military), we're on our way to a willing suspension of our disbelief. From a movie-making perspective, though, the most likely reason for SFC James' atypical bravado is the same reason the CSIs on CBS all forgot they weren't detectives and chased down suspects and interrogated them: it was more exciting that way. The film is exciting, and well acted. The disputed accuracy of its portrayal of Army bomb squads notwithstanding, it also has the feel of reality, perhaps owing to the acting, directing, editing, and heck, maybe the sound work too.

Why You Should See It
You got the part about the six Oscars ©, right? If the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay don't do it for you, how about Best Editing, Sound and Sound Editing?

Why You Should Avoid It
You only watch comedies. You never read the paper because there might be a mention of someone getting hurt. You're afraid that if you see an Academy Award winning movie, you might hear a British accent, be forced to think, and find yourself using the word "film."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Season of the Witch...condensed!

©2011 Relativity Media

Season of the Witch (2011), starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman.

[EDITED 9 January 2015]

The Director
Dominic Sena has created 2000's Gone in 60 Seconds (hey, look, a big Nicolas Cage face is on that poster too!).

The Actors
Brits, all of them, I believe, except Nicolas Cage of California and Ron Perlman (say New York twice). Stephen Graham, born in Liverpool, sounds like he was raised in Brooklyn. Granted, modern British speech would likely sound as strange to 14th Century Europeans as a Texas twang.

The Story
Behman (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) fight in the Crusades, and after each bloodfest the one who has produced the lower body count buys the night's drinks. All very endearing until their instant epiphany, after which they desert, only to be captured as deserters, only to be pressed into service to transport an accused witch (Claire Foy, trying to sound American for some reason) to trial, which is obviously the best way to stop the Bubonic Plague. If you can explain to me the explanation near the end, I will be much obliged.

Why You Should See It
You can only perceive movies in random four-minute increments, so the plot doesn't matter much to you.

The Rating
Tuna half stars.