Archives for the month of: April, 2016

This movie is really unattractive in a lot of ways, which I’m going to enumerate for you, because I don’t want to you to think I haven’t noticed.

  1. We are supposed to believe that good girl Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), who has busted her ass through law school, would be best friends with party girl Darcy (Kate Hudson), who is shallow, self-obsessed, trampy, vain, money-grubbing, lying, and literally stupid. We spend time on how dumb and what a liar she is.
  2. This is so that Rachel can steal Darcy’s fiancé Dex (Colin Egglesfield), and we won’t be mad about it. That’s right, we have two women–soi-disant best friends–and we start off with Darcy steamrolling Rachel’s birthday party and drunkenly insulting her shoes, only to have Rachel make out with Dex in a cab about five minutes later.
  3. Dex has a jellyfish for a spine. A lazy, indifferent jellyfish.
  4. Outside the three main figures, no effort is put into drawing character. John Krasinski does his absolute best as Rachel’s friend Ethan, who is trying to keep her from getting hurt, but the others, a silly tone-deaf moron obsessed with Ethan (Victoria from “How I Met Your Mother”) and a skateboarding pothead himbo (Steve Howey), are just dregs from the barrel of default secondary characters.
  5. And then it goes to a weird, differently misogynist, asinine earth-mother place.

But I keep watching it, because I think Ginnifer Goodwin does a really good job at being plausibly insecure. She was also the only watchable part of He’s Just Not That into You, in a very similar rôle. Sure, the situation’s a little melodramatic, but I bet being 30 and watching the one that got away marry someone else is kind of rough. Everyone should be less crappy and childish about it than in this movie, but oh well.

Stray Observations:

  • Kate Hudson is great as Darcy. You hate her. She is the worst.
  • An excellent and surprisingly wise exchange between Rachel and Ethan, after Ethan tries to precipitate a situation in which someone, anyone dares to be honest:
    • Rachel:”You’re an asshole!”
    • Ethan: “Maybe I am, but I’m the only asshole here who gives a shit about you!”

Director: Luke Greenfield
Rating: PG-13
Length: 112 minutes
Score: Unrateable.

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Technically, this is a rewatch, but I read the book recently, and I wasn’t really paying too much attention on the first watch.

And…you can’t get away from it: Anne Hathaway’s British accent is awful. Sometimes it’s not there, sometimes it’s normal posh, sometimes it’s middle school drama Cockney, and sometimes it swings wildly Yorkshire (its target), usually on the word “money.” It’s not clear why this happens, as she successfully fakes British accents in both Becoming Jane and Les Misérables, but…it is intrusively dire. And in a film that has Jodie Whittaker in the cast! She’s from Yorkshire!

In the shadow of that accent, Emma Morley (Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) run into each other in vignettes on most every July 15th from 1988 to 2006. In the first, they are graduating from the University of Edinburgh, and almost have an amorous interlude. This is interesting, of course, because Emma is northern and pinko, and Dexter is posh and probably wouldn’t actually spit on Margaret Thatcher. Naturally they become best friends but not romantically involved, because Emma has a crushing lack of self-esteem and Dexter is more or less a shallow cad. We check in on them as Dexter wanders about India and Europe finding himself while Emma slaves in a miserable Mexican restaurant, as they go on holiday to the seaside together (but Rules against Romance), as Dexter becomes an increasingly unpleasant television presenter and Emma is increasingly unpleasant about it, as Dexter marries rich and lovely Sylvie (Romola Garai) and Emma dates failed comic Ian (Rafe Spall), and…well, I think you know where this is going.

It’s really rather well done. Horrible clothes are worn, and dreadful hairstyles abound. The 90s were a sartorial catastrophe, in case you didn’t remember, and Emma’s Doc Martens and round glasses are spot-on for the self-serious anti-nuke would-be writer she is at 22. Dexter is plausibly over-smooth and fashion-victim-y in an hilarious series of jerkier and jerkier haircuts. He becomes really unlikeable. Which is the point.

Aside from the accent, it’s well-acted: Rafe Spall’s Ian is infuriatingly but touchingly useless; Romola Garai’s Sylvie is icily beautiful and deeply humorless. Patricia Clarkson is of course lovely and natural as Dexter’s mother; Tom Mison is disappointingly scummy for fans of “Sleepy Hollow.”

The conceit is slightly cheesy, and the book certainly introduces more shades of grey, but this is an above-competent adaptation, and I don’t understand why people hate Anne Hathaway so much. Sure, the accent is bad, but I’ve heard worse, and she’s otherwise charming.

Director: Lone Scherfig
Rating: PG-13
Length: 107 minutes
Score: 3/5

The Cider House Rules is a lousy book, but it’s probably a worse movie. And that’s before you are even asked to believe that Tobey Maguire could ever get within five feet of Charlize Theron.

Homer Wells (Maguire) is an orphan, brought up in Dr. Larch’s (Michael Caine) orphanage-cum-free-abortion-clinic in the most depressing town in Maine. Homer learns much surgery, including obstetrical procedures, but does not want to perform abortions. And, in case you don’t understand about Chekhov’s gun, yeah, that’ll come up later. At some point, Candy Kendall (Theron) and Wally Worthington (Paul Rudd) show up, needing Dr. Larch’s services, and they take Homer back to the coast with them. He starts working on Wally’s family’s orchard, and stays there as Wally goes off to fly in WWII, because he is believed to have a dicky heart. Because Dr. Larch has told him so. Which is a lie. Dr. Larch also forges a medical education for Homer. Which is apparently fine? Because one Maine doctor with an iron sense of his own morality and a lightbox is like actual qualifications.

While at the orchard, we embark on a Wally-Candy-Homer love triangle. It is ludicrous. I can’t decide whether it’s more or less ludicrous than the 600 pages of angsty nonsense in the book. Maybe it’s just more compact. Perhaps more interestingly, but also seeming rather like events that happen in a parallel universe, there are racially charged and otherwise unpleasant interactions with the orchard staff, particularly Mr. Rose (Delroy Lindo) and his daughter (Erykah Badu).

Mercifully, the film only takes one generation for matters to play out instead of the book’s two, so…it’s shorter than it could be. It also doesn’t perpetuate the apparently common belief of male novelists that all women are probably lesbians except when there’s a certain man around, so…there’s that.

It does, however, have Michael Caine doing a deeply dodgy American accent. And Tobey Maguire’s face. So it could be a lot better, is what I’m saying.

But Maine is lovely.

Director: Lasse Hallström
Rating: PG-13
Length: 126 minutes
Score: 2/5

This is a time travel movie, so the plot is tricky and sort of irrelevant. Three friends (Chris O’Dowd, Dean Lennox Kelly, and Marc Wootton) work at a sad theme park; two of them are very keen on science fiction; they are drinking in a pub and get caught in some sort of temporal anomaly. Anna Faris is Thursday Next, but for time, not books.

It’s distinctly average. O’Dowd is his usual late 2000s self–schlubby and directionless but nevertheless charming. His mates are guys who would be mates with that guy. Their combination of curiosity and cowardice is plausible and fine.

Would this movie be better if it were Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, which it rather seems like it’s trying to be? Almost certainly. Or if it had a shorter title? Very much. Will watching it make you feel like you’ve wasted 83 minutes? Probably not.

Director: Gareth Carrivick
Rating: TV-14
Length: 83 minutes
Score: 3/5

You are probably thinking, “What possessed you to watch a rom-com, starring Katherine Heigl, about a lesbian wedding?”

I’m not sure, and I regret it.

It’s not a complicated story: Jenny (Heigl) wants to marry Kitty (Alexis Bledel), but her family (Tom Wilkinson, Linda Emond, Grace Gummer) doesn’t know she’s gay. There are some bumps.

And you probably have some other questions, like:

  • Why is Tom Wilkinson in this movie?
  • Why doesn’t Kitty have a personality?
  • Why does everybody’s character jag wildly between ludicrous bigotry and tearful humanity?
  • Why is everyone in this movie with the possible exception of Jenny’s brother (Matthew Metzger, probably) just the biggest dillweed?
  • Why can’t Grace Gummer water a lawn without having a heavy-handed epiphany?

I counted zero laughs.

Director: Mary Agnes Donoghue
Rating: PG-13
Length: 94 minutes
Score: 1/5