Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Three Movies that Sucked This Weekend

Movies and More Movies
Eegh. Let’s all just admit it—there is something seriously wrong with director Neil LaBute.

On Friday night, all of us piled into the car and tootled over to the local multiplex to view The Wicker Man, which is the latest offering from Spokane’s wunderkind, Neil LaBute. I’d seen the 1973 original of course, and I’d been a sort of fan of Mr. LaBute’s prior work, so I had expectations that this remake at least wouldn’t suck. I was wrong. Neil LaBute has made a big deal in the press about how he insisted that there be no advance screenings of this movie not because it was bad (the usual reason for no press previews), but because he wanted to save the “twists” from getting out before the official opening. Mr. LaBute is a big, fat liar. This movie is at its best, laughable, and at its worst, silly, stupid and unnecessary. It is bad. It is really bad. The only thing I can say about it is that at least it employed a lot of female actors…but this is faint praise, because all of the women are portrayed as, at best, highly suspicious, and at worst, the incarnation of evil.

And this is the problem—the movie is just another entry into the Stuff Is Evil category of film making. You know the kind: Children are Evil (Children of the Corn, The Omen, etc.), Technology is Evil (Pulse, The Ring), Adults are Evil (The Faculty), and in this sub-genre, Women are Evil. Actually, woman being evil is kind of the theme of every Neil LaBute movie. I know, I know, his first feature, In the Company of Men was supposedly about how men are bastards, but that movie was infused with the sense that the men were just retaliating for wrongs inflicted on them by women in the first place. I don’t know what caused Mr. LaBute to hate us chicks so much…maybe his mommy used to butt out her cigarettes on him, or maybe he was rejected one too many times by the high school slut; but damn, that man does not like or trust women. I’d hate to be his wife. (Apparently, he and his wife recently split up. I’m not at all surprised.) Verdict? This movie sucks Monkey Ass, and is no fun at all. Don’t go. However, Boy Kid and I did laugh a few times at the more ridiculous bits, and now he can’t stop repeating, “Ow! My legs! Who broke my legs?” Yeesh.

On Saturday, Girl Kid and I went to see Factotum, starring Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor. “Eeh.” Yeah, yeah, Matt Dillon will probably finally get an Oscar for this portrayal of Charles Bukowski alter ego Henry Chinaski, but frankly, this movie is no Drugstore Cowboy. Lili Taylor provides a beautiful performance as his sometime girlfriend, and she has a scene where she is cooking dinner in her underwear that is somehow more brutally intimate than if she’d been nude. But, this one is not very much fun, and is not really the masterwork it’s being hailed as either. It’s grimy, it’s gritty, it’s badly lit and everyone acts as if they are on Qualudes. We get it—being a drunken asshole is a drag. Verdict? Probably not worth your time, but Mr. Matt will finally receive the accolades that he should have gotten for last year’s Crash. (It’s a good thing for Matt that Philip Seymour Hoffman doesn’t have anything major out this year.)

On Sunday we saw no movies. Shocking, right?

Yesterday, Girl Kid and I went to see Trust the Man. Again, “eh” pretty much sums it up. The movie is a somewhat enjoyable look at the relationships of two New York City couples; and as such, it works reasonably well for the first 80% of the movie, before veering off into a slapstick ending that made no sense at all. Still, a movie that stars Maggie Gyllenhaal is usually a Good Thing (not including World Trade Center). Julianne Moore is always interesting to watch, and David Duchovny is usually adequate to the job of middle-aged hunk o’ man flesh. Let’s see—the main message that Ms. Moore’s director and husband Bart Freundlich wants to get across is that marriage and children are good, and fooling around, watching porn, and being single are bad, so come on all you men, just grow up and settle down already. Um, no. I also have to wonder what naughtiness Mr. Freundlich got up to to necessitate this filmic apology to Ms. Moore. Bad boy.

There are some simple moments involving the kids that ring true, and the actors are all certainly committed. The movie does work as a love story for the city of New York; still, I really can’t recommend this movie either. (By the way, Hetero America, a guy wanting sex a few times a week does not make him a sex addict, and neither does expecting the occasional blowjob from his wife.) All through the movie I kept thinking, “This family’s problems could be resolved if she’d just blow him in the morning; like ‘duh!’” Maggie’s character just hopes boyfriend Billy Crudup will wise up and want marriage and kids, but he’s an insensitive jerk at heart, so why would she bother with him in the first place? And why would she later choose to stick it out with Stupid Effete Generic European Dude just because he says he wants children? If he’s so boring, why consider staying with him? Really, these are our choices? Maybe Maggie shouldn’t have been so quick to blow off Ellen Barkin’s lesbian advances.

By the end the whole thing spirals out of control into slapstick during the movie’s final “opening night of her play” sequence and the boys finally become men and accept what’s really important in life, AKA, a marriage between one man and one woman with the express purpose of producing children. Could Trust the Man have been financed by conservative whack-job operation Focus on the Family? I have to wonder. And of course, the movie is yet another in the “Everyone is so bloody rich and talented” genre. Apparently the only way to live in New York is to be filthy rich. Well, duh, but…not everyone is that well off and has an impossibly clean three bedroom apartment with it’s own elevator and polished hardwood floors. What about their stories? Apparently poor people are not worthy of romantic comedies. And how many more perfect dinner parties with fabulous and successful friends can I view without blowing chunks or commiting suicide? According to the movies, everyone in New York City works in advertising, at an art gallery, or is a writer or publisher. Oh yeah, and their kids go to cutesy private schools where the all the other parents are hot divorcees. Um, sure, that sounds realistic. No, it doesn’t.

And there’s another thing I hate—I don’t go to a movie to see a play. There are so many movies that use a school play or whatever as a third act. Hey, Hollywood, if I wanted to see a play, I’d go see one. This lame artifice smacks of weak script writing, if you ask me.

Verdict? I hate Billy Crudup, and this movie is a cop-out. The scene where Julianne is attempting to narrate a porn flick while hubby David Duchovny masturbates under the covers is kind of funny though.

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