When I ask myself why I haven’t written any movie roundups lately, the fact that I can’t remember most of the movies I’ve seen in the past few months gives me a reason why. Things have looked up just a little. I rented Citizen Kane, which I’ve seen a couple of times already, and although it wasn’t as visually striking as I’d remembered it on the big screen, it held up pretty well.
I saw Silver Linings Playbook, which I found pretty unimpressive: funny dialogue, with totally inappropriate delivery. It should have been like Russell’s earlier Flirting with Disaster but instead it was a generic Hollywood drama. I have no idea why (okay, actually, we all know why) Jennifer Lawrence was cast against Bradley Cooper instead of Julia Stiles, who’s actually the right age for the part, since there was nothing in the script at all about his dating a woman so much younger than he was. And I wouldn’t have been paying attention to the accents if I hadn’t read about how bad they were, but it’s amusing that everyone noticed Lawrence supposedly mispronounces “King of Prussia Mall” (she pronounces the “f”) but no one noticed that she calls the Schuylkill Expressway, not the “Schuylkill” or the “Expressway” or the "turnpike," but “the 76.” As if Filuffya were in California. And thinking about that suggests the question, why would a woman describing the horrifically traumatic death of her husband specifically name not only what store he was shopping at before he died, but just exactly which mall he went to?
Paul was amusing. Two English comics fans, driving cross country in a rented RV, pick up a hitchhiking alien on the run from the men in black and then end up with an irate creationist Kristen Wiig. If you like crass comedies and don’t like science fiction, though, fall asleep during the second half of the movie, not the first.
Something Borrowed was a surprisingly good romantic comedy—stick with it past the first twenty minutes or so—about a woman who falls in love with her best friend’s fiancé—but it’s complicated, almost complicated enough that you might end up thinking she has a right to him. It didn’t make a lot of sense, maybe because it glossed over points that were explained in the novel it’s based on. Why did the lawyer’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) friends (Kate Hudson and John Krasinski) move to New York with her when only she had a job, when two and possibly three of them are depicted as merely middle class? How did her friend the unpublished writer manage to move permanently to London with no job? Why in the world would he move to London in order to be nearer to someone who wanted to work with him on his book? E-mail has been around for a really long time by now. And I honestly have to say, after all the back-and-forth of the plot, I don’t think I fully wanted the happy ending. But it’s a good, rare movie about female friendship.
I watched Brief Interviews with Hideous Men before I started blogging most movies I saw, so that was a few years ago now. It was directed by John Krasinski, who plays the male sidekick in Something Borrowed, and based obviously on David Foster Wallace’s series of stories by that name, and on a dramatic adaptation of the stories. The play takes the silent “Q” character—obviously not silent in the story, as the reader guesses that someone is asking questions which the “hideous men” of the title are answering, but wordless on the page—decides she’s a female graduate student interviewing male subjects for some kind of sexuality research (and the same person in every story), and gives her a boyfriend and a backstory. In the movie, she’s played by Julianne Nicholson. I remember exactly three of the interviews. One, near the beginning of the film, has Ben Shenkman doing the “Victory for the Forces of Democratic Freedom!” bit, a clear takeoff from the first scene of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago (“so at this point, we don’t know”). The film ends with the obvious choice for the ending, the long “interview” with the guy who picks up women at outdoor folk festivals (conceivably lesbian folk festivals). It’s possible to read this story in different ways. The guy could be kind of a nebbish, who simply loses it at the end of the story when he can’t find a way to make sense of his feelings. Krasinski chooses raging misogynist on the verge of committing physical violence against the interviewer. The only story that really made any impact, I think, was the extremely painful one about the guy who quotes Victor Frankl. This segment had Chris Messina as the subject. The dramatization makes an interesting choice to split the story into two parts and include them in two separate places in the film. The speaker in this case isn’t an interview subject, but a student of the interviewer. In the earlier segment, he flirts with her, asks her for a better grade, things along those lines. In the later segment, she’s turned down some request of his and he appears in her office and threatens her, using the words of the story. It’s very powerful.