One thing we did on our little ‘staycation’ was to go to movies. Our first pick was Another Earth, which wasn’t playing out in our neighborhood (though it is now), so we went into the city and stopped and had a drink and an appetizer beforehand. Nice way to start a movie, no? Especially on a weekday, when your coworkers are covering for you because you’re on vacation.
I didn’t know what to expect with this film. I thought it was going to be a big sci-fi film, with mysterious aliens maybe and certainly some shoot-em-up violence. Instead, it’s a film about very human trauma. Rhoda (Brit Marling, who co-wrote and produced) is a 17 year old girl, admitted to MIT, lover of astronomy and space, driving home one night (drunk) when she hears that another planet has been discovered in our solar system, and that it is so close, one can see it with the naked eye. It’s bigger and bluer than any other planet in the sky. Not as big as the moon, but big. So she spends some time focusing on it, looking at it, fascinated. The problem is, she hasn’t pulled over, she’s driving full speed ahead, and she smashes into another car, a car with a family. A father John (William Mapother, creepy Ethan from Lost). His pregnant wife. A toddler son. The father survives, though he’s in a coma, but the wife and her children are killed. Flash forward 4 years, and Rhoda has finished her time spent in prison. She comes home, but she’s damaged, and the guilt of what she has done haunts her. Because she was a minor, her name was never released to the public, and most people don’t know she is the one who caused the accident. She contemplates (and attempts) suicide. Finally, she decides that she needs to confront John, the father/husband in the accident, an acclaimed musician and professor, who has come out of his coma, though he’s barely living. His house is a disaster area, and he drinks his life away. She has come across a tragedy just about as bad as what she is living in her heart. Her guilt is that she is responsible for both his tragedy and her own. So she knocks on his door, ready to confess and apologize, but then chickens out, and offers her services to clean his house, claiming that she works for a cleaning company. He accepts, and a friendship/relationship is born.
I really liked this film a lot. It touched my heart, and made me feel for both Rhoda and John, quite deeply. The actors were honest and real, and it came through. The special effects of another planet growing, coming closer, in the background, is almost a red herring, making you wonder what is coming next. Until it isn’t. I won’t say more than that, because it was a really truly lovely film, and you should see it without me ruining the plot line for you. The cinematography is gorgeous, and for such a low-budget indie number, that’s impressive.
We then went to see Crazy Stupid Love, the story of Cal (Steve Carell), who has just discovered that he’s divorcing his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), and is smarting mightily. He’s lonely. He’s sad. He doesn’t understand what happened to his marriage, except maybe he does. He suspects that he’s been phoning it in, and when both partners phone it in, the marriage suffers. To mask the pain of his loneliness, he spends his evenings at a local yuppy bar (is that even a term anymore?), and tells anyone in listening distance how his wife cheated on him, and how he’s getting divorced. A barfly, Jacob (Ryan Gosling), notices his pathetic conversations, and decides to make a project out of him. He takes him shopping, teaches him to dress, and how to listen rather than talk. This whole scene felt more like what guys think women want, rather than what they really want, but I suspect that’s the point. Jacob knows how to attract women in the short term, but it’s not the real deal. From there, Cal meets up with a lonely alcoholic (Marisa Tomei), and a string of other women, and then tries to figure out his relationship with his wife and kids. There’s a smaller story about Cal and Emily’s son, and his desperate crush on the babysitter, who is in love with Cal. And then there’s Hannah (Emma Stone), the hot and somewhat sad-sack lawyer who isn’t proposed to at the local El Torito, much to her chagrin. Her role in the whole story builds slowly and importantly, and is vital to the ending. I didn’t know if I’d like this movie or not, but I really like Carell and Moore, and I’m starting to like Gosling and Stone. I liked this one a lot. Worth seeing, on the big screen or the TV if you can wait.
I hope this frame, from Friends With Benefits, convinces you that this is not an appropriate film to view with your child. Or your parent. Unless you saw Black Swan with said family member, in which case, you can probably handle it. But there’s a lot of sex, a lot of positions, though most of it is under the covers and in truth I’m not sure I actually saw a female breast. But there were enough sexy scenes that I was glad that Maya went with Ted to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes, (link is to Ted’s review of Another Earth, Crazy Stupid Love, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes) which held zero interest for me. Call me girly, but on most days, I’d rather see a half decent romantic comedy than a sci-fi film with CGI monkeys waving their arms around and smashing things. That makes me the minority in this house, 2 to 1.
Mila Kunis is Jamie, a New York City executive headhunter. Justin Timberlake is Dylan, a Los Angeles art director for a website, whom she is attempting to recruit for GQ. She succeeds, of course, and they become friends. Eventually, in their friendship type get togethers, drinking beer and watching stupid romantic comedies, the truth comes out. They’re both damaged goods, relationship wise. They’re not interested in love. But they are both horny and could sure do with some sexy sex . OK then, they decide to go for the sexy sex, and skip the messy love stuff. You can probably figure out where it’s going from there, but I’ll admit it was an enjoyable trip, and the somewhat awkward early sexy sex turned into something perhaps more meaningful later on. Is that a cliche? Of course it is. So what.
The last film we saw during our vacation was Captain America. I’m not a big fan of the comic book movie genre, mainly because the only comic books I read are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 (and since they KILLED GILES!!!! I may not bother with Season 9. Grrr.) As a kid I used to like Richie Rich (anyone else remember the one where he had one hour to spend $1,000,000? I don’t remember the consequences if he failed, but I often thought it might be fun) and Betty and Veronica. I’ve been to see Spiderman, and Superman, and Batman, and probably some others that I’ve forgotten. And I usually think they’re OK, though I don’t LURVE them. This one was better than some of the others, I’d say…it had a bit more depth and a certain something to it that I liked. Kind of silly that he’s running around with that shield and the enemy doesn’t see it…it sticks out like a sore thumb…but still, if you’re in the mood for some silly fun with dying Nazis and a villain whose face is red and seems to be lacking his nose, this is your movie.
And while I’m on the subject of movies, we also saw Midnight in Paris when it first came out. Will you like me less if I admit that my favorite Woody Allen films are the ones he’s not in? I just don’t think his humor is all that funny, at least coming out of his mouth. Though I did like him with Scarlet Johansson in that movie a few years ago, Scoop. Anyway, the idea here is that Gil (Owen Wilson) and his fiance Inez (Rachel McAdams) are in Paris on vacation, with her family. Gil is a romantic, he loves Paris, he loves the rain, he loves Paris in the Rain. Inez is more interested in living the good life in a wealthy American suburb. One night, Gil is out for a walk on his own, and at the stroke of midnight, he is picked up by an old car full of laughing people, who take him along to their next party. He finds himself rubbing elbows with his heroes, the American Writers of the 1920s, such as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein. This is no dress up party, either. Gil has traveled back in time to his idea of the pinnacle of human existence, a singular time and place in history, that he wishes he could inhabit. Back and forth he travels to this time with these people, and Wilson plays the part so honestly, so openly, that all you can do is go along for the enchanted ride with him. I liked this one a lot.