Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Come take my pulse.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've hardly had enough time to see as many movies in theaters as I usually do. I've only seen three in the span of three weeks I believe. This is STRANGE for a woman like me.. Just this week alone I plan to see three! But here are my thoughts on the three past:

I Am Love

I'm a sucker for anything SWINTON. She's one of those scene-stealing actresses on whom you involuntarily concentrate your gaze at all times she's in view. Therefore, I was excited for this Italian-language film starring and produced by her.

For a moment upon it's opening I thought I Am Love was set in the 1960s due to the exquisite Milan mansion's decor, the classically styled costuming, and the haze of the actual filmstock. Obviously intentional, for a story about a priveleged family entrenched in the old, traditional way of The Family Business into a new, global economy. Similarly, Swinton's character Emma has an "awakening" about her rich but routine life and embarks on breaking free from the matriarchal role she's been designated.

Swinton's superb, per usual, but Emma isn't the most likable character. She may be the least likable character in the whole film, and you follow her closely throughout. The other characters aren't terribly thought-out or given much depth, but they serve their purpose. The directing is interesting, at times sweeping and other times confusing but interesting. I let the movie settle with me for a couple of weeks before finalizing my opinion on the film, all due to what I thought of the ending. It's an erratic culmination - gigantic music, rampant reaction shots of each of the characters, and the worst costume decision in a movie filled with impeccable ones (if they were going for juxtaposition, I don't buy it - not in that outfit). I sadly have to say that while it was a pretty and captivating movie for the most part, I didn't enjoy it all.

Bottom line: C; ambitious but falls short - though Swinton may get some deserved recognition this awards season.

Going the Distance

Rom-coms are usually enjoyable, but I sit through them having to cringe, wince, and ultimately ignore many lines or character stereotypes in order to not walk out of the theater. Much like a horror movie, I want to scream out things at the characters who are acting completely inplausibly. Luckily, Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, and the ace supporting cast of Going the Distance saved me from such a dilemma.

The story revolves around Erin and Garrett, two people who meet one night in a New York bar under not too out-there or gaggingly meet-cute circumstances. She's a 31-year-old intern at a newspaper, and he works A&R at a music label. Grad school calls Erin back to San Francisco and the two lovebirds decide they like each other too much to break up, and so: the funny trials and tribulations of a long distance relationship!

And while these trials and tribulations are not unexpected, they're actually believable. I don't think I've witnessed a more "real" rom-com, and it's not just because I've done long distance relationships. The openness of the friendships and dialogue strikes true, as well. The film is rated R, mostly due to raunchy lines and sexual situations - there are plenty of dick jokes, semi-nudity, and crass interchanges. But um, I realize that that's similar to how my friends and I interact as well. Our dialogue and e-mails would most likely be more on the rated R side of things, and my husband and I have made plenty of similar jokes to those between Erin and Garrett. To be sure, the raunchy comedy is light (it's never "sick"), and it's delivered superbly by the leads as well as Christina Applegate, Jason Sudeikis, Jim Gaffigan and Charlie Day. I haven't laughed that hard in a movie theater in years.

The best thing about the humor in Going the Distance? I wasn't offended. Like I've said, I think every rom-com I've seen cracks a joke that makes me cringe as a woman (see: every Katherine Heigl movie ever). But the writer of Going the Distance (male) was an equal opportunist - there are dick jokes, but vagina jokes too; where there's two dudes talking about sex, we get two women discussing it as well. I didn't get squeamish in my seat, I didn't roll my eyes, and the characters were likable to acted truthfully!

Bottom line: A+ for a rom-com, B overall; hilarious, sweet, and thoroughly enjoyable.


Oh, Robert Rodriguez. As a Latina, I appreciate his consistent casting of Hispanic actors and Latino-influenced/-set storylines, but I don't think I've ever quite come around to actually liking him. I always like parts, but never the whole.

I can take movies that are supposed to veer "B-movie" with ridiculous action and incredibly bad line delivery, sometimes at the camera. I know it's all in fun, and I do laugh and enjoy it if done well. The constant gore and male-gaze nudity: less so. It's redundant, uninspired, and where I thought he'd be more similar to his friend Quentin Tarantino, he just keeps turning out more like the directorial efforts of their other friend Eli Roth (vomit).

Danny Trejo plays what I can only now assume is actually Danny Trejo, since it's the same intimidating ex-con persona role I've always seen him in. He fits, of course, and I went along with his character and all the hilarious implausibilities. I really liked Michelle Rodriguez' character, though she also gets typecast as your typical Latina tough girl, I suppose. Along with some turns by Robert DeNiro, Jeff Fahey, and Steven Seagal, plus a hammering-over-the-head story about politics and illegal immigration - you've got at least something watchable.

Here's what's not ever watchable: Jessica Alba. I tried with all my might to dig the beautiful "actress," because I like to support the notion of more Latina actresses on screen. However, she's not an actress. She can't even act badly as all the characters in Machete do. She is, quite plainly, The Worst. I've never wanted a character to die so badly than hers in Machete. I just wanted her off screen, to save me from constantly cringing and making my skin more susceptible to wrinkles in my future. If I keep seeing her in films, I'm going to have to name a future wrinkle after her.

Bottom line: D; it's funny in its ridiculousness, but was not worthy of my money, if you ask me.

Have you seen any of these movies? Thoughts?! Let's discuss in the comments!


  1. Didn't see I Am Love
    Agreed on Going The Distance.
    Disagree/Agree on Machete. (I would have gone C, felt like it was lacking something but I did laugh A LOT. Worth the money if you "feel like a movie" but not a must see.)

  2. Erica - on Machete, I would say it's DVD optional *maybe* - ha. I wouldn't pay to see it if I felt like a movie if I'd known. I groaned more than I laughed. But that's me!

  3. I haven't seen any of these (in fact, I hadn't even HEARD of number one or number three) but I would really like to see Going The Distance, so I'm glad you enjoyed that. :)

  4. Tilda is so captivating on screen. I would watch her throw rocks.

    I am not a fan of Jessica Alba. There is not one movie that I liked her in.

    I was hoping going the distance would be good so I'm glad you liked it.

  5. i thought the exact same thing of going the distance! i'm a sucker for all things drew but was very surprised about how much i laughed out loud at it. i mean charlie day?? love.

  6. I've only seen "Going The Distance" and LOVED it. Exactly my thoughts on it! I went on a double-date with my husband and another couple and the guys were pretty much just being nice, letting the wives have their way with a "date movie." They were doubled over in laughter! From the spray tan to the dining table to Charlie Chaplin to baby pigeons. SO funny!!! And my eyes welled up a little on one part too. I'm a sap I guess. Haha.

  7. Ooooh, I got nervous you were going to say something bad about Going the Distance. I'm dragging my husband to see it tomorrow :) When I saw the preview, I cried a little, so I've got high hopes!

  8. I rarely see anything in the cinema (mostly because I'm a very impatient person and people kicking the back of my seat/texting/talking through the movie REALLY bug me!!), and I'd n ot actually heard of Going the Distance, but I'm going to have to check that one out!

  9. Machete's a niche flick. I came in expecting it to be an extension of the recent Rodriguez/Tarantino Grindhouse franchise, and that's exactly what it was, although not as good as Planet Terror or Death Proof. Coming in to it with that perspective, and being a fan of that particular style of exploitation flick send-ups, I go B- on it.