September 2010 posts
FLIPPED (2010/ IN THEATERS) Set in the same exact time period of Mad Men (mid-60s), Rob Reiner’s Flipped is a “coming of age” story involving two middle-schoolers—a boy and a girl — who have lived across the street from each other since they were children. The girl in question is Juli Baker (well played by Madeline Carroll who is14 years old in real life) and the boy is Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe, an attractive Australian lad of 15). The movie is set in suburban anywhere, USA, and opens with a sweet shot of young Juli thinking about and desperately wanting to experience her first kiss with Bryce. Naturally, for his part, Bryce is desperately trying to run away. The two characters, thus established and maintained into middle school days, reminded me of two movies: last year’s Up with the enthusiastic, out-going young “adventurer” pouncing on the shy, quiet boy and 1991’s My Girl in which a very assured Anna Clumsky is crazy for her shy neighbor Macaulay Culkin. Flipped will ultimately unite these two main characters for the viewer but not before some big disappointments (on Juli’s side primarily) and some big time life lessons for Bryce. Along the way, we meet both families—presented to us in some familiar stereotypes: Aidan Quinn and Penelope Ann Miller are Juli’s less-wealthy but very loving parents and Rebecca de Mornay and Anthony Edwards are the Loski’s, a bit more status conscious and in the case of the father, full of prejudice. John Mahoney plays Bryce’s maternal grandfather who sees the “iridescence” in Juli and eventually helps to opens Bryce’s eyes to the same. While the movie doesn’t reach anywhere close to the haunting portrayals in Reiner’s Stand By Me (which is based on a Stephen King novella after all), it is still a quietly sweet reminder of life in a non-Mad Men world of young love and learning. A great Netflix rental for the future.
Grade: B Feels a bit flat and too many stereotyped characters for real depth, but quietly sweet nonetheless. Good soundtrack.
REPULSION (1965/Criterion Collection DVD) Considered a classic among psychological thrillers, this film is Polanski’s first shot in English and features a young Catherine Deneuve playing the central character, Carol, an attractive young manicurist living in London with her promiscuous sister. Carol suffers from increasingly destructive sexual repression and fantasy but no one seems to notice. When her sister departs for an Italian vacation with her married lover, leaving Carol alone, we as viewers watch in horror as she plunges deeper and deeper into insanity. Polanski directed and also co-wrote the screenplay. The film has a run-time of 105 minutes and may feel slow compared to current pacing, but stick with it as the visuals and the “action” in the last third of the movie are striking. Be sure to notice how the B&W cinematography and the excellent use of music serve to heighten suspense.
BTW: Check out the 1964 documentary on the making of the film which is included in the Criterion DVD (available from Netflix)…it provides a fascinating look at Polanski the director. And, for a touch of Hitchcock, watch the film’s trailer here.
P.S. Looking for an excellent Polanski Thriller Double Bill? Try pairing Repulsion with The Tenant (1976) but be sure you’re not in a creepy apartment when viewing.
MACHETE (2010/IN THEATERS) It’s been an agonizingly long wait since director Robert Rodriguez first introduced audiences to this character and his namesake film via one of the “fake” trailers from the 2007 Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse extravaganza. Unlike many of the trailers included in Grindhouse, Machete wasn’t really fake—Rodriguez had written the feature-length script way back in 1993, on the heels of his debut breakout feature El Mariachi, after first meeting and casting star Danny Trejo for 1995’s Desperado. Not being a fan of his too-often joyless mexi-westerns El Mariachi OR Desperado OR Once Upon a Time in Mexico, but a HUGE fan of his first collaboration with QT, the scare-larious killers-on-the-lam/vampire cabaret hybrid From Dusk Till Dawn, it’s too bad that its taken the director so long (and so low, with those terrible Spy Kids sequels and, uh, The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl in 3D) before really finding what he does best—create enthusiastically invigorating cinematic trash of the highest order. (John Waters, I sure do love ya, but your movies do this.) Read more »
Come join us for a discussion of the trailers we’ve been privileged to experience over the last month or so. Are they tantalizing nuggets of the hits of tomorrow? Or harbingers of Knight and Days to come? We do not know! But we will assume that we do, because it is our way. Have YOU seen a trailer lately? Do tell. In the Comments, please—we can’t hear you from our cubicles.
Sarah: Welcome back to Trailer Trash! My first offering, Heartbreaker, showed up when I went to see Get Low at a local Landmark theater. (Side note: Stop telling me to watch Svetlana, Landmark! I’m not going to watch it, no matter how many times you make me sit through that ad!) I am not a hater of silly French romances at all, but please. Dirty Dancing as a sincere romantic plot device? Wham!? Not a chance, Frogs. Vanessa Paradis will just have to continue being “that lady who had kids with Johnny Depp” to me. (There is no shame in this, Vanessa.)
Kimberly: So how about this Ryan Reynolds vehicle, Buried? While the idea of watching Double R slowly suffocate will appeal to anyone who has suffered through Comedy Central cuts of Van Wilder or Waiting on a very depressing Sunday afternoon (hardeeharhar, obvious), I’m not sure it will be able to hold the interest of a mass audience. The trailer is certainly effective–it makes me all jumpy just thinking about it–but does RyRey have the charisma to engage our concern for 90 whole minutes? (I was going to comment on his appearance in Mr. Brooks, but then I realized I was confusing him with Dane Cook. What a mean lady I am!)
EAT PRAY LOVE (2010/IN THEATERS) Everyone knows someone who loves this book and everyone knows someone else who hated it and/or couldn’t finish it. As a movie viewer who had not read the book, one of the big problems I experienced with the film came right out of the gate: what is SO BAD about the main character’s marriage? And a related question…what the hell is she looking for? I gather the book answers both these questions quite well and presents a real-life accounting of a three-year-painful-ending to a ten-year-unsatisfying-marriage, which inspires the author to travel the world for a year in search of spirituality and herself. But we get none of this deep background in the movie. Instead we get her husband, portrayed very briefly at the start of the film (by Billy Crudup—one of my faves, I confess) being goofy and unfocused and not interested in globe-trotting with his famous author-wife. Later, in a pivotal scene, he makes an argument for commitment and tolerance. “I took a vow,” he says. “Work with me, don’t run away,” or words to that effect. Read more »
We stole this idea from Slate because we think it’s fun. Sue us. (Please don’t sue us.) Without any advance reordering to save face, we present to you the first five entries* in Kimberly’s (and, to a lesser extent, Brian’s) Netflix queue, along with some brief commentary utilizing the royal “we.” Judge if you must.
1. Dark City: Director’s Cut (1998). Sometimes Brian rearranges the queue—we strongly discourage this. We vaguely remember seeing Dark City in the theater and nodding off, although the stills are very creepy! The director’s cut features a commentary by Roger Ebert, American Hero, which may explain its inclusion. Though Jennifer Connelly is always a pleasure to watch and we have new love for Rufus Sewell after seeing “Père-Lachaise,” the Wes Craven–directed segment of Paris, je t’aime, we will not be watching this. You can’t make us.
2. The Company (2003). We had forgotten about this Altman film until an Over/Under segment on the late, very lamented “At the Movies.” (Sadly, these are not archived online. Buena Vista, you gargle our mayo.) It stars Neve Campbell (who also co-wrote/produced—knock us over with a feather) as a member of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. James Franco is also in it because James Franco is in everything now. Sometimes he just stands in the background of CW shows and winks. Read more »