Friday, July 20, 2007

Now Playing


Cashback An art student delevops insomnia after being dumped by his girlfriend. This leads him to a wacky night job at a supermarket. I relate... well, to the insomnia part only in my case what follows the dread condition isn't so much wacky comedy as existential horror

Goya's Ghost Milos Forman once made movies as good as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus. So why am I so suspicious of this movie? On a more shallow note: combine this film with No Country For Old Men and Javier Bardem is really having a bad hair year at the movies.


Hairspray -Better than Dreamgirls? Not as polished but maybe. "Big, Blonde and Beautiful" translated means: the one and only Michelle Pfeiffer is back on the silver screen [my review]

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry -I still don't know what to make of the homophobic / not homophobic split amongst gay critics (discussed in previous link post) but for my money the concept itself is homophobic [or at least insulting --see good discussion in the comments below --ed.] whether or not the execution is.

Sunshine -its release date has been inexplicably tossed from early spring to late winter and now it's thrown back to midsummer like some celluloid hot potato. I'm eager to catch it.


Anonymous said...

Didn't know where to place this, but since it's part of a movie that's "now playing":

Casting News: Joseph Fiennes, Stuart Townsend and Naomi Watts set for Harry Potter 6 (!!!!)

You guys know Stuart Townsend as the boyfriend of Charlize Theron...and here is the supposed lists of who they will be playing:
Townsend- Rufus Scrimigeour
J. Fiennes- Young Tom Riddle (perfect casting, really since his brother, is VOLDEMORT)
Watts- Narcissa Malfoy (I was the first to say it on this blog!...Gotta take the points were I can get

Anonymous said...

I hate Sandler "comedies", so I won't be seeing I now pronounce you (You made a typo in "now" BTW. And in "ghosts". Sorry for being a Nazi. :( ), but I am surprised you consider the very concept of straight men posing as gays homophobic. Could you elaborate? Was Francis Veber's Le Placard homophobic? Was Some Like it Hot sexist?

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Sunshine reminded me a bit of Children of Men: a flawed, slightly pretentious, wildly ambitious British sci-fi, so stunning in its scope and visual sense that the flaws become irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Sunshine is indeed visually stunning, but its flaws are far too big to become irrelevant. Even before the whole thing implodes in the third act.

Glenn Dunks said...

Luke, it's homophobic in it's ideas because the very idea of two heterosexual men posing as homosexuals to get government benefits is incredibly insulting when many homosexuals can't get said benefits yet there is Adam Sandler and that stupid fat guy becoming gay just because we apparently get such good benefits.

Like, why don't they just go out and get girlfriends and get married? Considering how detestable they find the whole situation (or Adam Sandler's character at least) I'm sure that would be much easier.

Sunshine was pretty darn good for the first half and then in one single scene it took a turn for the worst and the final act is definitely a discombobulating mess that descends the movie into a ridiculous shambles.

Anonymous said...

Even in its earlier parts Sunshine tries to create drama by having its characters being unbelievably stupid. The whole oxygen garden farce killed my suspension of disbelief and I was never able to take the movie seriously again after that.


glenn has it right mostly. it's insulting because it is so NOT easier for gay people benefits wise. there all still many companies that won't provide and many insurance rulings that deny covergae to domestic partners if a company is too small AND straight people are also eligible for domestic partner benefits and of course there are many anti-gay initiatives that have passed around the country thanks to Bush's fear mongering about marriage that have dismantled some progress in civil union benefits.

so really ---posing as gay to get rights that you can already get as straight people and that it's easier for them to get? its' maddening

Anonymous said...

I fail to see how the point about government benefits is homophobic.
I haven't seen the movie, but doesn't the whole point of them forming a faux-gay relationship amount to that they don't have to commit themselves to real, full-time relationships with women in order to reap the governmental benefits? They want to remain roomates/bachelors - so obviously heterosexual marriage is not an option.

And even IF the movie had intentions of criticizing unfairly high "gay benefits" (which I highly doubt, 1) since there are none, and 2) because the film in question is a lowbrow Adam Sandler comedy), it would still at worst be a critique of the government, and not more representative of "fear of gay people" than addressing the male/female wage gap would be an instance of "fear of male workers".

I'm a little saddened to see how little it takes for people to play the homophobia card. If anything, won't this only make the real, genuinely *hateful* type of homophobia grow stronger and more widespread?

Anonymous said...

Nat, we can't just blame the Bush administration - it's not as though gays had equal rights in this country and then they were suddenly taken away in the last eight years. I won't vote Republican, but thanks to Bill Clinton I can't vote Democrat either - he was the president who PROMISED to take away the ban on gays in the military (hello, we've always been in the military, just as we've always been everywhere else) and then not only signed the wretched "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy BUT also signed DOMA - the Defense of Marriage Act (the law that says that if any single state passes gay marriage laws, no other state has to honor that marriage.) The fact remains that heterosexuals just don't get it - but maybe they would if they were only legally married in one state (c'mon you can't pack all gays into Massachussetts), and THEIR benefits suddenly dissolved when they crossed the state line.

Back to the movies - I think part of the distrust may be the involvement of Natalie Portman? She's a fine actress in the right role, but with all the other heavy-hitting European actors that film has, why not cast a genuine Spanish beauty in that role? It's not like Spain is lacking in lovely actresses, I'm sure. The other thing that irks me right off the bat is the implication (if I'm understanding the trailer) of "one woman playing two entirely different and unrelated characters" and the second one is important only as she relates to an important figure in the hero's past. The fact that they look exactly alike requires an ENORMOUS suspension of disbelief - even if the characters are mother and daughter, how many identical mother/daughter pairings do you know of? (Not "close resemblance" but outright identical.) It's the sort of silly thing that goes on in soap operas - in As The World Turns, Julianne Moore played a pair of identical cousins one season. This is simply impossible, of course. This device was used by Attenborough in Chaplin (to name only one example of this highly overused trope) and it's insulting in that it implies that the appearance of a woman is so much more important than what's inside (and so Chaplin fell in love with Oona because she happened to bear a strong resemblance to a dead vaudvillian Chaplin once loved??) As a woman, I frankly find that creepy (it's almost always a woman who plays the identical characters to the male protagonist. I can't think of an other-way-round example off the top of my head.)

Personally, in terms of cimema, I think it would be more realistic - and in some ways scarier - for the male protagonist to suddenly start chasing down a woman who only bears the slightest resemblance to the beloved - but in these scenarios the point is never that the hero has become unhinged but that he has found a (physical) replica of the former beloved.


Anonymous said...

What I'm saying is the plot point about benefits is obviously just a reason to get Adam Sandler and his pal to play gay people. Nothing more.


red satin doll ---true, we can't just blame the Bush administration and yes i was as horrified by clinton's conduct as you were. it's just that Bush has been so good at fear mongering that it's easy to cite him as responsible.

mikadzuki --it's not just a plot point, it's the whole setup. and it's incredibly insulting. I realize i'm more inflamed about this than most but that's because I have personal experience with having trouble getting benefits when if i could just be legally married i wouldn't. and bigots already use the "special rights" wedge (what special rights? i haven't seen any) to confuse more fair minded voters about civil rights issues. it just makes me crazy.

and i don't think calling out homophobia when you see it is going to make it worse. Sure it'll turn some people against you... but that's always been the case when people speak up. I don't think we would've come as far as we have with racial issues (not that there isn't room to improve) if people didn't point about the problems as they occurred.

but yes... when all is said and done it's probably just a dumb adam sandler movie. sorry --I'm very touchy about my second class citizenship and my current lack of health insurance... sicko made me incredibly angry but i suppose that's a story for another day.

Anonymous said...

There's no need to apologize - you have every right to be upset about the bigotry and idiocy that makes life a chore for those who are considered "second class citizens". I just think it's a blessing that people can still joke about idiotic stereotypes about homosexuals, and that it hasn't turned into a stern, taboo subject that everyone tip-toes around (which I think will only prove counter-productive in the long run).

I really hope I'm not misunderstood or have offended someone.

adam k. said...

I think that Adam Sandler movie looks dumb and homophobic for much simpler reasons, i.e. it's a whole film full of "we have to pretend we're gay! ewwww"

Why the f*ck would I want to spend my time watching that? It's yet another reinforcement of the heterosexual attitude that being gay is gross and weird and funny. Sitting through the trailer was painful enough.

Unknown said...

I predict Chuck and Larry will die a quick but painful death. The Dallas Morning News gave it a "D," which basically means unwatchable, and said this concept might have been edgy in 1977 when Billy Crystal was playing gay on Soap. the review goes on to say (paraphrasing) Dennis Dugan wants to have it both ways (make fun of gays and embrace gay culture) but never gets either right. "It might seem offensive if it weren't so lame."

I will not be going to see this movie.

So, how many gay fellows out there have ever had a woman strip down to her undies, present her breasts and say "grab 'em, they're real!" Can't say it's ever happened to me.

I kind of like Jessica Biel, but man, did she actually read that script before agreeing to do it?


*raises hand*

only it didn't come with the phrase "they're real" though they were. ;)

Anonymous said...

Mikadzuki basically said what I wanted to. I understand the suggestion that gay relationships have easier in life, when the reality is so radically different, must be insulting. But it upsets only because it's false - it doesn't, in itself, attribute negative qualities to homosexuals, does it? That's why I don't consider it homophobic.

(I'd also like to point out that the premises of this kind of false identity comedy almost always takes some liberty with reality. How many of the men here would actually decide to impersonate a woman in order to hide from the Mafia or to get a part in a soap opera?)

Now, if the content of the movie (jokes, characterisation, etc.) is homophobic, then it's a different thing altogether, but I was specifically asking about the concept, not the execution.


Luke you have a good point here that's well articulated... i will shut up now.

plus: funny. because it's SO easy to believe men pretending to be women to escape the mafia ;)

Anonymous said...

Kudos for saying in four sentences in what I failed to say in ten. Great! :)

Btw, am I the only one totally surprised at Alexander Payne's involvement in this project? Judging from interviews, he seems to be a perfectionist with harsh demands on himself - yet he co-writes *this*? Huh?

Anonymous said...

nathaniel, mikadzuki: :)

RedSatinDoll: Have you seen Hitchcock's Vertigo? It doesn't completely fit your last paragraph, but I feel in this one case you'll find the "dead ringer for a past loved one" trope entirely justified by the end of the film.


i just rewatched VERTIGO and yes...

Anonymous said...

Luke - yes, I have watched Vertigo, and that is actually a perfect example - except that in this case Hitcock is actually playing with the trope, twisting it to the purposes of his plot, which I hesistate to spoil for those who have not yet seen it. (I found the film and its outcoming disturbing - it may actually be one of Hitch's best. I saw it once, years ago on TV but it stays with you.)


Marius said...

Luke, you rock! It's nice to see that there are objective thinkers in the world!

Anonymous said...

Yes for Watts!