First movie this week: Failure to Launch. Matthew McConaughey is Trip, the hyper-masculine, lady-killing, man-child who won’t move out of his parents’ house due to a fear of commitment or possibly a deeper seated fear of love. Sarah Jessica Parker is Paula, the cool and confident, testosterone castrating modern girl who’s hired by Trip’s parents to woo him out of the house (and, don’t worry, she doesn’t fall for her clients . . . right). Blarg. This is one of those romantic comedies in which every guy is either a football-loving, sex mongering, ape . . . or is trying to be one. Of course, no one can compare to the domination of Trip, but that certainly doesn’t stop the movie from humping that joke. Every woman in this movie is either intelligent, witty, and only has a mind for a true relationship and the passion of a full romance . . . or too drunk and jaded by men to care. Enter Zooey Deschanel. She’s Kit, constantly has a beer in her hand, and isn’t interested in masculine advances. Naturally, Trip’s friends just want sex. Well, I guess they don’t just want sex. They also want to conquer mountains, video games (only the competitive ones), and baseball. Yarrrr, baseball! Alright, I mean, I gotta come out and say that I don’t like these kinds of romantic comedies. They’re supposed to parody the insanity of male and female stereotypes, but people end up laughing at how ‘true’ they are, thus perpetuating the guy as gorilla and woman as vindictive feminist mentality. But, whatever. If you buy into it, you’ll love this movie. God, if I never have to hear the “At first it was just a job but then it became real” conversation, or one of its infinite variations, it may . . . yeah it will be too soon. And is it just me or does the timbre of Sarah Jessica Parker’s voice needle into your brain too? The movie does have heart, I guess. It mostly comes from Kathy Bates who still turns out to be a pretty good actress. And thank you, Terry Bradshaw. All I’ll say is that the ‘partial nudity’ in this film isn’t Sarah Jessica Parker. And the camera . . . lingers. *shudder*
1.5 stars out of 5.
Next up is another romantic comedy, Imagine Me & You. Here’s a change: a romantic comedy that starts at a wedding. This just happens to be Heck (Matthew Goode) and Rachel’s (Piper Perabo) wedding, and everything goes swimmingly . . . until the bride exchanges a look with a special member of the audience on her way up to the altar. That look starts a string of innocent events that lead to an affair of the heart. Ready for the surprise? The looker’s a woman. A-wigga wha? Thaaaaaat’s right. WooOOOOooo. Luce (Lena Headey), the lovely lesbian, arranged the flowers for the wedding and on her way out steals a glance with Rachel. At the very least, this movie treats gay people as a part of humanity and not some weird fetish. Luce obviously missed the memo that states all lesbians must be aggressive predators. She wants in her heart of hearts only Rachel’s happiness. But it isn’t that simple because Rachel doesn’t know what will make her happy. It’s pretty formulaic in its structure, well, I mean, it’s a romantic comedy. C’mon, admit it. All romantic comedies follow the same basic plot structure: love-interests meet, love-interests dance, love-interests fall in love *climax* love-interests break up, love-interests learn they were more together than they ever were apart—or ever will be without each other, the love-interest responsible for the break-up (usually the lead) is sacrificed on the altar of humiliation to prove his/her love. This movie doesn’t try to reinvent this structure, but it does give it depth through its characters. This depth is only slightly cheapened at the end. Because it is a warm and fuzzy film, while . . . well, I guess I would have liked a little more complex bitterness from the person who loses. C’est la vie. Still a pretty good movie.
3 stars out of 5.
Find Me Guilty is about the trial of Giacomo “Jackie Dee” DiNorscio, a mobster faced with—whoa, whoa, whoa. Is that Vin Diesel with hair? That is Vin Diesel with hair. Hm. Anyway, he’s faced with multiple charges from the feds but decides to defend himself instead of rat out his friends and family. It’s based on the true story of the longest mafia trial in US history. This movie . . . this movie is interesting. And I really mean that. How’s this? The antagonist of this movie is an attorney who swears to put away liars, pimps, dope dealers, and murderers, and the protagonist is a man who mocks laws, attorneys, judges, even his fellow mobsters . . . but he’s funny. Are we rooting for him? Well . . . not . . . exactly. But who are we gonna root for? The hard-nosed lawyers? The ungrateful mobsters who aren’t nearly as charismatic as Jackie? We do root for Jackie and it’s not because of his innocence. We root for him because he’s the only one who recognizes the trial as the show that it is. He’s the clown in the center ring and he puts on one hell of a show. I guess that’s what it really is. This is a movie that works only because of Jackie Dee. We watch just to see him. We don’t care about themes and resolution and character arcs. We want to see Jackie point out the absurdities of a system that purports justice but jumps through hoops to get it. And, what can I say, the hoops are interesting. Vin Diesel shines underneath that hair. Linus Roache also gives a noteworthy performance. They make the moments happen, and this is a movie of moments.
3.5 stars out of 5.
Now: Ultraviolet, the story of the disease-mutated, biologically engineered assassin, Violet. Violet is a Hemophage—they’re vampiric in appearance, stronger, faster, and sexier than normal human beings but suffer from a depressingly short lifespan (about 12 years after infection). She lives in a dystopian society where the government is free to kidnap whoever they want and conduct weird experiments ‘cause . . . that’s what an oppressive government does, right?. But not Violet. She’s part of a ragtag band of rebels who fight for the freedom of Hemophages as well as . . . searching . . . for a . . . cure . . . and . . . and stuff . . . cheese whiz *snore* . . . Wha? Sorry, zoned out there for a second. What was I talking about? Right, freedom fighters and what-not. Naturally, there will be comparisons between this movie and Aeon Flux. I don’t see why though. I mean, Aeon Flux is about a repressive dystopian society that can kidnap people at will to do weird experiments on them and the struggle of a ragtag band of rebels who fight for the freedom of humans. See, Aeon couldn’t care less about the plight of the Hemophages. Racist bitch. And the differences don’t stop there. See, Violet is ordered to infiltrate a seemingly impenetrable government lab to execute a child who holds the key to curing the Hemophages and ending the oppressive reign of the totalitarian government. Aeon Flux, on the other hand, is ordered to infiltrate a seemingly impenetrable government lab to execute the leader of the repressive government who holds the key behind the mysterious disappearances and ending the oppressive reign of the totalitarian government. Neither of them do it. They both, like, find God or remember their humanity or something and decide to protect their targets from the backlash of the rebels they worked for as well as the goons from the government. Whatevs, you don’t watch Ultraviolet for its reinvention of plot dynamics. You watch it for the action. And . . . sigh . . . Kurt Wimmer, the writer and director, also directed Equilibrium—the story of a repressive dystopian society where—blah! You get the idea. Here’s a break down of every action sequence in this film: Violet enters (or exits) a room, Violet is surrounded by a seemingly overwhelming number of enemies, Violet kills everyone. Rinse and repeat. Seriously, every single fight. Wimmer doesn’t reinvent plot dynamics, but he sure explores the many facets of anti-climax. This movie is also a CGI bonanza, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (King Kong and The Lord of the Rings indulged quite a bit), but it looks like CGI from the mid-90s. And I’m not one to hold bad special effects against a movie, but this movie uses them everywhere. Blah. In the end, it’s just not worth it. The dialogue, the acting, the fight scenes—sub-par. It’s too bad it wasn’t filmed in the ultraviolet spectrum, because then we wouldn’t have to see it.
1.5 stars out of 5.
For all its similarities, Aeon Flux is better. But it tries too hard to be more than the action movie it should be. It’s part sci-fi adventure, part mystery, part over-the-top action, part dystopian satire, part . . . I don’t know, I stopped caring two parts ago. It tries to accomplish so much it doesn’t end up accomplishing much of anything. I remember the cartoon and it was at least groovy to look at. The plot didn’t matter because the animation was a visual spectacle. Sadly, live action doesn’t give the same freedom to explore the fluid grace of the cartoon’s animation.
2 stars out of 5.
The last film for the week is the documentary written and directed by Eugene Jarecki, Why We Fight. The film makes a critical analysis of the American military-industrial complex. It begins, ironically, with a farewell address. President Eisenhower’s farewell address, to be precise, in which he warns Americans to keep an eye on the military-industrial complex (a term he coined) before it integrates itself into every facet of American life, in fact, takes over American life. I won’t belabor any points for fear of discrediting this movie. It talks to a lot of people with (in some cases, radically) different political views. The film is liberal, yes. I’m not so blind as to not see that. But it’s liberal in the sense that liberals are the only people who are willing to make a critical analysis of the American military-industrial complex. This movie is not Democratic (as in the party). It doesn’t lay blame or point fingers. It presents facts, and it does so without the fanatical agenda of someone like Michael Moore (thank God). This movie doesn’t demonize the actions of the Bush administration. It puts them into context—a wider, more thorough context than at least I could see before, with the facts to back it up. I don’t want to say anything more other than I think everyone in America should see this film. I’m genuinely interested in how every American would respond to it.
4 stars out of 5.