Archive for December, 2010

It takes a lot to offend me, and much more to offend me as a man. You gotta hit just the right nerve. To date, only two works of art have ever done it. Both were seriocomic indie films about American families. The first was Juno. The second, I’m afraid, is The Kids Are All Right. I say “afraid” for two reasons: 1) Unlike Juno, The Kid Are All Right is a terrific film until the offending turn, and 2) my feelings for it remain murky, uncertain. I’m not sure if it’s saying what I think it’s saying. I hope I’m wrong, but something (perhaps my own righteousness) tells me I’m not. In short, I read both films as saying roughly the same thing: Life’s messy, and it gets a whole lot messier when we stray from the confines of the family unit. What follows is a personal, spoiler-studded take on the two films.

Let’s start with Juno, a film I’ve written about before. That movie rattled me enough that I felt compelled to create a MySpace account for the sole purpose of messaging Diablo Cody. She never replied. I didn’t expect her to. I wrote the message, foremost, for myself. Something about the film upset me, and I needed an excuse to organize my thoughts. Why did this feel-good indie comedy leave me so unsettled? It wasn’t the quirkistan dialogue, nor was it some underlying sense of feeling pandered to by the film’s hyper-hipster aesthetic. Those things mildly annoyed me; they didn’t unnerve me. I kept coming back to variations of the same question: How does the film feel — and how am I supposed to feel — about Jason Bateman‘s character?

Here’re some snippets of what I wrote to Cody: (more…)

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A Jim Carrey movie with a twist (or two) (or 10).

**** out of *****

I Love You Phillip Morris ends on a dick joke. It starts with Jim Carrey on life support, looking gaunt, pondering the powers of love. During the 100-odd minutes between, the movie delights in making such discordant moments collide with total excess. In I Love You Phillip Morris, sweetness punctuates raunch. Romance hard-cuts to physical comedy. AIDS drama turns into AIDS jokes. And then back again.

Like Carrey’s character, you can never predict which direction the film will pivot. The fun is in not knowing.

Yes, fun. F-U-N. Not quite sterling critical insight, I know. But it’s the most apt word for I Love You Phillip Morris. The film mends gay prison romance, con-man caper, and Jim Carrey movie into an unclassifiable, glee-inducing machine. It moves at a brisk pace — establishing expectations, shattering them, and moving on to the next bit. It doesn’t just do this for kicks. The film works, in large part, thanks to the bat-shit true story on which it was based. You’d have to snatch defeat from the jaws of awesome to squander material this good. (more…)

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The New York Times published a cutesty piece on the semantics of Oscar promotion yesterday. In the post, featured on the Times‘ Carpetbagger blog, writer Brooks Barnes refers to Carlos as an “itty bitty” movie.

Yes, a five-and-a-half hour, 11-language, superlatively acclaimed…itty bitty movie.

I’m on record as loving the film. But, taste aside, how little research does one have to do to rethink using a condescending phrase like”itty bitty” to describe Carlos? Perhaps you could look at its budget ($18 million), its reviews (which praise the film with every synonym for “epic” in the English language), or, of course, its runtime (330 minutes). Or, you know, you could just off-handedly take a swipe at the film because it generated little US box-office interest. Your call, New York Times.

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An apology

I apologize for the gap in posts. Events, which I can likely explain soon, have kept me away. Also, I discovered Angry Birds.

Currently, I’m reading Jim Thompson‘s The Killer Inside Me, for pleasure and as research for a forthcoming review on Michael Winterbottom‘s baffling film adaptation from earlier this year. So here’s hoping I can hit you with that soon.

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