Something’s Gotta Give-the fuller review

This is a movie that goes well with french toast. The characters keep eating sweet things, Diane Keaton’s character Erica loves Paris, pancakes were prepped. Eggs are in her house, so I start feeling peckish and wonder what can be done with the ones in mine ūüėÄ . Honestly, just starting this review made me start thinking of all the sweet things I’d like to eat while writing this.

french toast
I like mine with lots of honey.

 

Well, so the movie. Erica Barry is a successful, divorced, 50 something playwright. She has one adult daughter (Marin), a lovely beach house where the main action is set, and slightly younger sister (Zoe) who teaches Women’s Studies at an appropriately educated sounding university and “was in the Israeli army.” Marin invites Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson) to the beach house and just when they’re about to have sex, Harry amusingly enough has a heart-attack. Well, it was funny in the movie. His relationship with Marin is toast, and having to admit to his doctor in front of her that he used viagra that night is just the cream cheese frosting on top of it. We move on from what might have been (predictable and controlling and negative) to a new relationship that emerges between the hapless Erica and Harry,¬† as he needs to recover in her home and can’t travel back to the city. She doesn’t “enjoy playing nurse to [his] bad-boy patient” and she doesn’t really. Instead, while chatting with him between times she goes out with the 36 year old doctor played by Keanu Reeves. #womensrights #weshouldallgooutwithkeanureeves #feminism

Keanu Reeves
Does the french toast look as good as Keanu? (I think it’s equal.) Also shout out to how he handles his role. He is just one long, evenly played, beautiful note all through out.¬†

 

Their relationship develops as Harry shows us unsuspected depth to his character and Erica discovers that charming is charming. Unfortunately, Harry Sanborn still plays to the old rules, and as per usual he dumps Erica after sleeping with her.¬† (It’s like he didn’t watch the new movies.) Of course, the dumping was with her permission which makes it worse. She doesn’t want to rock the boat so badly, that when he says he isn’t “good at monogamy” she just nods along, without wondering what she wanted. Which means – she falls for it too, right? Like the 30 year olds she was castigating.

ERICA

          You just like to travel light? Oh,
          please, what the hell does that mean?

                    HARRY

          Now see a thirty year old gets that.

                    ERICA

          You mean falls for that.

                    HARRY

          I mean, accepts it.

                    ERICA

          If that's what you want... a non
          threatening woman, who won't get your
          number, you get to run the show...

From there on Erica starts to own the story. She thinks she’s fine, runs into Harry out on the town with someone unrealistically (for him) good looking¬† and has an absolute melt down, which forces Harry to deal with her feelings over how she was treated, instead of conveniently brushing them aside. The first few times I saw this movie years ago, I didn’t understand why when she tells Harry that she “just wished it had lasted longer” and he responds “me too”, she says “that is a terrible thing to say.” And then I got it this time. If you pour your heart out to someone you deserve more than polite rejoinders. Erica then rushes off to the beach house to recuperate by writing her new play, and she makes it about Harry.

 

Nicholson’s muted indignation on receiving a literary-dramatic cutting down is chokingly funny.

KN9
Obfuscation

There are many lovely moments in this scene my own favourites are:

KN10
You tell ’im, Diane.
KN11
I loved her hissy-eyed, cobra-strike face here as she spat out that line.

It ends beautifully.

 

Watch it with some french toast on your plate. It ends happily once Harry realises all his flaws.

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Spanglish

“Deborah Clasky: Mother, I need to say something to you…You were an alcoholic and wildly promiscuous woman during my formative years so I’m in this fix because of you

Evelyn Wright: You have a solid point dear, but just now the lessons of my life are coming in handy for you.”

Nearly everyone in Spanglish,¬†even almost everyone with screen-time, has a backstory or at least a richly detailed, clearly delineated personality. The equations between the cast are finely modulated, through action and reaction etched into their faces (Evelyn Wright in the scene quoted above) or through the dialogue that prompts a fresh unlooked for response from the character such as this soft-spoken response from Adam Sandler’s John Clasky when talking to his daughter, Bernice:

Bernice Clasky (reading the review of her father’s restaurant aloud): Eating at this perfect, smaller, passionate restaurant inspires one’s own abandonment of caution. To wit…John Clasky is the best chef in the United States.

John Clasky: Look how great you read it.

The whole group seems to be thoroughly sympatico (that was a dialogue reference) with each other. A review I read somewhere took issue with the movie’s dependence on stereotypical characters (drunken mother-in-law, I think it said, and maybe problematic wife, attractive housekeeper?). On the other hand Roger Ebert seemed taken aback by the range of Tea Leoni’s Deborah, though Deborah seemed eminently understandable to me. Her emotions flare-up to delight and spiral downwards into self-absorption and personal misery that crushes every unfortunate in her vicinity, but especially her daughter and her husband. Inappropriate remarks tumble out her mouth every time she talks, and¬† she waits with a disarming vulnerability for a crushing put-down, because she’s aware of all the words,

John¬† Clasky: I think that’s a little…

Deborah Clasky: What? Insensitive? Elitist? Narcissistic? Irresponsible? Perverse? Dizzy? What?…

Open-handed and direct, she remains incapable of shifting her own perspective the slightest bit, paralyzed (one can only assume) by her own feelings and thereby unable to accommodate someone else’s. At one point she congratulates Flor (played by Paz Vega) on her daughter’s appearance, and tells her she could make a fortune at surrogate pregnancy. A joke between similarly situated people, but I was wondering if it could be casually flipped out like that to someone not as mainstream as one was oneself.

I did wonder if the movie set out to contrast two visions of womanhood, through Deborah and Flor’s characters. Each seemed to be beauty worked to the highest possible pitch from two different cultures. The movie does explicitly call out the contrast in the lines (and juxtaposed scenes of Flor and Deborah) about how “dieting, exercising American women” suppress desire for style and become afraid of “all that is good in life” including motherhood. With a lack of self-critique the movie personifies motherhood through the curvaceous Flor, economically vulnerable since her divorce, and now working as a housekeeper. Fortunately, Deborah Clasky’s character does not remain a catch-all for all that is bad in life. She is “infuriated” when John Clasky squeezes her breast to get her to stop talking (perhaps constantly and wrong-headedly, but also sincerely and expressively). Her angst, which if you ask me, is the angst of the contemporary woman terrified that accommodation might mean losing out,giving in or not existing on her own terms, unsure of herself because she has set herself a new, unperformed script to play. It’s hard to do what hasn’t been done before. If she has a chip on her shoulder it’s because it was placed there.

The movie swings more in favour of self-possessed and principled Flor, than the uncertain and destructive wreck that Deborah becomes, and so maybe it seems that women must choose between diametrically opposed paths. But fortunately it is also about other things. Communication is a key theme in a movie about family dynamics and employer-employee relations when the help can’t speak the language. Flor is always certain of herself, but as she experiences challenges she wasn’t expecting she remains sure-footed and even learns how to speak in a new language and take care of herself in a new culture. Three of the adults in the film, John, Deborah, and Flor are concerned with elaborately fine-tuning their communication. Deborah remains the most insistently reliant on vocabulary, expecting words to give new life to a relationship, yet Sandler’s and Paz Vega’s characters achieve the fullest comprehension, despite “communicating in apologies” and not having a large number of mutually understood words between them.

Spanglish packs in a great deal of perspective into two hours. It is a warm and credible look at cultural values, relationships and communication.

 

“Things are never what they seem with the women in this family”

Ha ha!! Rumour Has It is finally looking up. The best scene is the comic escalation of emotion between Shirley MacClane and Jennifer Aniston’s characters, when Aniston is back from her own tryst with the man who slept with her grandmother and her mother 30 years previously.

The next moment is equally golden with a screamed-out phone conversation conducted by Aniston’s grandmother and father, with Aniston a bubbling mess on one end and her sister an emotional, streaky-eyed mess, flipping out over being newly married on the other end of the line.

I thought Rumour Has It would be a dull homage to The Graduate’s misogyny towards women older than 40. It does begin with Aniston sleeping with a 30 years older Kevin Costner, who -despite not being exactly grizzled- doesn’t have a youthful spring in his step either. He surrounds himself with toys for adults -cool cars and personal planes- name drops through all his conversations, and has photos of himself meeting world leaders in his bedroom. A movie made today would’ve called that out for the obvious shtick that is. If I had met Castro and was proud of it, I wouldn’t decorate my bedroom with the photograph. Maybe an office space, to let people know it had happened. One could argue that because in general 50 to 60 year old men are not desirable to women decades younger,they need to be decked out to make it seem possible in a movie. But I saw zero chemistry between Costner and Aniston, and a lot more between her and the guy playing Costner’s son.

Which brings me to another sore point. Why does she have to freeze him out, like he’s a lower life form, like an amphibian in a dinner suit? I mean, why is Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) glamourised while sleeping with three generation of women from the same family, and Aniston as the protagonist has to maintain a “Don’t touch me!” vibe when talking to a very cute man who turns out to be his son?¬† She is clearly portrayed (at exactly 10 years older, I checked their birth dates) to be vastly above this gorgeous man, sporting an identical brand of flippy-haired, blonde good looks. I mean, simply in terms of life experience, and of course there’s all that knowledge of the world garnered through her job of writing obituaries for news papers.

But when Shirley MacClane finally screeches out, cursing Burroughs for being a “horny bastard”, I finally laugh and laugh because something shifts and the perspective changes. The minor meltdown of the sisters on either end of the phone, and the collective family effort to hold things together is the crystallising moment where the movie¬† departs from The Graduate. I guess that movie was other things too, but too many reviews and short summaries sum it up as “vampy, predatory older woman sleeps with college graduate”. Where is Costner’s vampiness?See!? You find it hard to associate the word with him! No shots gliding up and down his legs and focusing on a toned, glistening torso, I see. When he is attractive, his attractiveness has strength, it does not make him vulnerable to censure or consumable, the way I remember Anne Bancroft. So f- off Mr.Costner, because I do not believe you for one second.

I have watched this movie before, and I think I remember him being dumped. I hope that’s what happens. I think this movie would’ve been interesting if he got back with Shirley MacClane. Why should she be beyond romantic illusion? But women (non-heroines) begin with hope and end with cynicism . The heroine begins with prudence and thus keepth her balance dancing on the edge of sanction just above the descent into censure, in this world.¬†Ha!

Edit: I guess I can forgive Beau Burrough after all, because of the proactive karma that led the father character to be the one who accidentally rendered him sterile in a football game 40 years prior. Also, the movie makes space for MacClane’s angst over being passed over by a younger person, when she was “13 years younger” then he is currently in the movie when she faces up to him. All the same, do you think life has that finality to it? Do you think people IRL feel dateable until they meet their Beau Burroughs, and then read the writing on the wall? It seems to me that there is a range of taste that can be accommodated, though not portrayed. What I mean is, I think you can feed on stereotype after stereotype, and listen to instruction every day, and then surprisingly enough your own mind will betray you. Like I read somewhere, about the force of a blade of grass pushing its head through a slab of concrete, you discover an untaught reaction. You know something else.

Tumhari Sulu

I’ve actually watched a bunch of movies and been reading/re-reading some books but nothing quite stirred up the spirit of contrariety within me as Vidya Balan’s new movie Tumhari Sulu.

Directed by Suresh Triveni the movie is funny, authentic- and in the tradition of Bollywood movies of the past 10 years – very visually appealing. The light falls well on everything and you never see a harsh image or an uninviting face. Even the Tweedledum like out-line of the dumpy shop-keeper (a character thrown in for some additional comic relief) seems to achieve aesthetic definition. His moronic assistant is a recognisable individual type, and not merely one of the interchangeable faces of poverty.

The entire cast really is perfect. Perfectly casted :). Vidya Balan has received well- deserved rave reviews for lending spirit and incredible charm to her character. She plays a house-wife named Sulu who failed high school, and currently lives a life of unbroken domesticity, ambling good-naturedly around the kitchen and dining-table, while tending to her husband and pre-teen son.

Balan’s capacity for portraying spirit, zest and bubbling good-humour, all harnessed by maternal and wifely concerns, without being too annoying to her female viewers is really commendable. Even more interesting is her portrayal of Sulu’s capacity for moderation in all things (quarreling with your extended family for instance) and her ability to handle confrontation (over the question of her new job). Balan got me very¬† invested in Sulu’s character-arc as she tumbles into an RJ-ing gig and figures out a new place for herself in the scheme of things. Manav Kaul, Neha Dhupia,and Vijay Maurya were lovely in their roles as husband,boss, and grudging,competitive,ego-maniacal colleague.

All this complimenting and I have forgotten what got me so annoyed to begin with. Oh yes, domesticity. It is a virtue, probably, but it can enervate. I understand that this is a nice family-friendly film where everyone between ages 7-70 may crowd in together. It’s just that I wish it wasn’t as family-friendly as that. This movie (or Suresh Triveni) doesn’t make mistakes-it isn’t coy or ridiculous-but its determination to maintain an atmosphere of superior good-nature around the way a wife and mother occasionally (if we’re counting, I think, once) hands out sex to her immature husband is a little unbelievable. I don’t mean that Balan should have to portray a ravening sex fiend house-wife, because that would have been a little unbelievable too (and smacks of a porn movie premise) it’s just that – what is it with the doling out of sex and housekeeping all with the air of good cheer and amity? She’s finally a little selfish when she wants to keep her job and the movie doesn’t crucify her for that, so that’s nice.

You know whats so effing unbelievable about actors who portray happy little helpers onscreen – “I can’t keep my job and miss this”- (kids and dusting the furniture), is that they’re all ACTORS. They don’t mind getting help in their own lives and they’re passionate about being successful, or at least happy. In real life they would be more like “Well I did want you, but I’ll only be home on weekends and evenings.”

Domesticity is important though for the portrayal of marital sex.Domesticity makes it okay. Domesticity contains it and even enshrines pleasure within Duty. Domesticity allows married women to have sex because they exhibit no untoward greed, selfish pleasure, or independent thinking. They go about the task with the calmness of a well regulated mind which knows it has behaved itself well and can rise to every (to other feeble minded souls) startling occasion with great composure. Is it wonderful to have nothing surprise you?

Vidya Balan’s character is permitted mild ego and plenty of imagination in the context of her occupation. We still need to domesticate such a character somewhere, because we’re still uncomfortable around her.

5 Centimeters Per Second

To be honest, for some reason I though this would be a movie about going into labour. Why not? Anime never seems to shy away from stuff that seems gross in typical Hollywood fare. It’s what I like about anime too (not all the very gross stuff- I remember in one movie the school kids were horror stuck, watching a disgusting teacher eat his own boogers ….oh gross ), because I always get an utterly different cultural take (in light of the previous parenthesis, ha ha ha ha ha) even on ordinary topics like teens dating in high school (or what school teachers are wont to do), or fantasy adventures. The tropes are different,the demons are different,the characters obsess over different things.

Anyhow, I was preparing to be all grossed out by 5 Centimeters but it turned out to be a fairly innocuous movie about adolescents. Everyone kept talking in low, thoughtful murmurs, and because it is a little late right now, I was having trouble concentrating, but it turns out they were all ruminating and pondering away in an extremely thoughtful way about Life and all that it holds for them. At some point (when they were more grown up in Episode 3) they wanted to go back to being 13 years old to when they talked about everything in low, anxious murmurs because this was the time when everything had meaning. I think at least two of the characters reclaimed the thing that mattered most to them at 13 but I am not sure.

Anyway, I liked so many of the very beautiful and detailed scenes. Although I wish anime would stop drawing just one kind of racial look-and then make each person look like the other’s clone. I actually find it hard to remember who is who, unless they try to draw one girl with a ponytail and the other without one. The male romantic lead will always be taller than the rest, have sightly more dramatic hair, and have an extremely emo, melancholy mien. Hee, hee, hee.

But the stories are long, beautifully detailed and rife with unusual, individualistic ideas. Especially for some one who is only used to U.S. style commercial drama. It’s like anime story writers are writing for themselves , and in the other stuff you have to follow a pre-set narrative structure. I know that Makoto Shinkai created the manga version first though, so I don’t know how he managed that.

Okay, so I just went through the comments below the video and the story was actually pretty sweet, I am just too sleepy and and attention span disabled (currently) to really get it.

Also, the low, hushed whispers no matter what they are talking about (actually everything they talk about quite legitimately demands a hushed, introspective tone) eventually kind of lulls you.

I am an animal. Incapable of truly appreciating Shinkai’s Five Centimeters. :(.¬† But Children Who Chase Lost Voices was tres amazing. I truly loved it and was aware of it all the time I was blissfully watching it for the first time :D. Best anime memory ever.

Suffragette

Very restrained telling of the fight by British women for the right to vote. Meryl Streep has a bit role as Emmeline Plankhurst. Carey Mulligan plays a laundry woman whose gradual  political awakening occurs alongside the daily abuse she faces at the laundry, and the growing understanding that she has no legal rights over her son. Meryl Streep is brilliant as usual even with less screen time. Mulligan graces her character with a portrayal of grit and hopefulness.

Thoughts on Leo in the times of The Revenant

Leo DiCaprio doesn’t die this time. I think the man suffers from some kind of complex of grandeur. Why does he keep choosing roles that die encompassed by pointedly humble magnitude? He certainly seems to be under the impression that he can more than support the part of vulnerable, unlovable greatness. Think of his movie choices: He begins with¬† Jack (well in global terms that’s where he began, no?) and stole that role yes, but he dies. And don’t forget Romeo+Juliet before that, where he died again. Basketball Diaries. Extremely troubled. Frank W Abnagale in Catch Me if You Can does NOT die but I’m sure that wasn’t DiCaprio’s idea. I notice he hasn’t done another Steven Spielberg movie.The Aviator. Is very miserable all through. Blood Diamond.Dies most beautifully on the African continent.Just like the Atlantic, an all out monument to our Leo that is most befitting.J.Edgar. Dead.His passing is marked by his own voice over giving him a send off worthy of such an actor, er sorry, I meant character. The Great Gatsby. Well I loved the movie,also Leo. He fit in with no fireworks and with easy, perfect, perfection. But guess what? Leo bites it. Again, there was no choice, but by now our suspicions are confirmed. Leo D. – Oscar winner and quintessential drama queen.

He was appropriately hateful in Django Unchained though.And Katy was allowed the death scene in Revolutionary Road, trapped in a little room in a suburban house.(Where else do women die? And how else, but- essentially- of boredom, heh heh heh :D). Let’s see Gangs of New York he (supposedly) just dies like everyone else of his generation, but he¬† – he gets to be the voice of the whole damn concern. Of New York. Of an era. Of an entire phase of history. Really Leo. A little modesty would be more becoming.Wolf of Wall Street. He lives! But is unpleased when accepting the Globe for a comic role if memory serves me right.

The Revenant. He lives! We will call this his mature period.Aren’t so many DiCaprio movies action movies in dramatic clothing? Was just thinking that when I watched The Revenant. So. much.action. He jumps on his horse, and falls off a cliff, a beautiful woman is lurking all dead in the background, giving him sustenance (as women are wont to do. Very sustaining creatures, us ladies. Well not me. I’m lazy and work only under the pressure of terror … but I know what I’m supposed to be. I need to be a sustaining, ethereal, horizontal, goddess). I basically just really liked the last scene where the camera work and the chase scene unglamourises the revenge between the two men. It looks meaningless against the big empty backdrop of landscape. Also when the Native Americans don’t kill him and he seems to be undergoing some tremendous thought transformation. You wonder what he is thinking. And that’s acting.

The Force Awakens- and is unexpectedly goodlooking

I’m hooked! Adam Driver as Kylo Ren is so¬†jawdropping HOT! I hope the force is strong in this one, and that he winds up with Rey. I sense an angst filled movie times couple in the making.

 

That last fight scene was awesome. I thought Daisey Ridley instilled it with so much unexpected raw feeling, especially in victory. It was all so perfect.

The Intern

The Intern lacks a certain something. A certain…. Meryl-iness. In its tone we have observed a lack of Streep. Okay, so although Devil Wears Prada comparisons are inevitable… this movie is a cute movie. Anne Hathaway is nice… or at least her character allows her to be interesting. Although, by the way, the infantilisation of women continues to have a glorious run in this movie, sometimes literally, e.g. when Hathaway’s character’s daughter is so cute at the back of the car yelling out bossy (and of course wrong) instructions to a patient, Italianate Uncle Sam. Not too much here for poor De Niro. I think Hollywood now has an Anupam Kher/Amitabh Bachan to play preachy, old man roles if and when required.

I don’t mean to be ageist- we all grow old… so why is it that we have movies that act like old age is only what old people have to deal with … with a pinch of salt and a little bit of humour as they grin and bear it? Dying isn’t only what the dead do. Vast statements about the human condition aside, this movie also offers up the opportunity to lay out some old, sexist chestnuts, thankfully buried in obliquity when it comes to smarter, funnier more au courant movies. In short … this is no Date Night this is no The Grand Budapest Hotel this is not even a Chef (points taken off Chef since Scarlett Jo. is served up like something yum to eat. And seriously Scarlet Jo. and that guy from Chef. In what universe??!!Plus we have her performance in Her so I know I’m being shortchanged.)

And who likes that?

Okay, this is no Spanglish. Also, no Julie and Julia. This is also no Juno or Little Miss Sunshine or Bridesmaids. Hmm, well this is The Intern. It sets the bar at medium.

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