Movies

Editor Justin Timberlake and headhunter Mila Kunis becomes FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (2011) to work off their frustration at the lack of other wuistable lovers, completely confident they can’t possibly develop stronger feelings (three guesses how that turns out, not that you’ll need them). The script is adequate, though heavy on jokes about how absurd rom-coms are, but the leads’ performances were too flat for this to work. “I’m damaged—I still believe in true love.”
LES MIS (2012) is, of course, the Filmed Musical Play adapting the last part of Victor Hugo’s epic, wherein unjustly imprisoned Jean valJean (Hugh Jackman) reinvents himself as a prosperous petit bourgeouise only to find his inner decency and the relentless pursuit of Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) forcing him to run (eventually with orphan Amanda Seyfriend in tow). Not up to a really good stage version, and Crowe is surprisingly weak as Javert (not just the voice, he can’t even convey the man’s relentless menace). However Anne Hathaway is terrific as the tragic Fontine and the story and songs are still terrific enough to make this worth watching. “Red, the blood of angry men/Black, the dark of ages past/Red, the day about to dawn/Black, the night that fades at last!”
FARGO (1996) should probably have been called Brainerd as that’s where most of the action takes place (though I don’t think it’s as effective a name): Wiliam Macey launches a kidnap plot with Steve Buscemi as his front man, only to find it spiralling into an increasingly horrifying body count, which dogged and pregnant cop Frances McDormand finds just as distressing for different reasons (“It’s such a lovely day.”). One of the Coen Brother’s best, this is often cited as an example of neo-noir, though I don’t agree—anything with such clear good/evil lines and an incorruptible, decent police force doesn’t make the cut for me (had it focused entirely on Macey, I might go with neo-noir though). This would double bill well with the Coens’ No Country for Old Men where another cop finds himself plunged into a murderous maelstrom, or Ruthless People for a funny look at a botched kidnapping. “I’d be really surprised if our suspect turned out to be from Brainerd.”
THE RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN (1980) was the writing/directing debut for John Sayles (financed by writing Roger Corman films such as Piranha and Alligator) about seven friends reuniting for the annual summer get together, tinkering with relationships and wondering what comes next in their lives. Proof that you never step into the same river twice—having moved up here and spent lots of time with TYG’s college friends, the plight of one new boyfriend plunged into all this backstory rings true in a way it didn’t last time I saw it. Very good, in any case; reminiscent of The Big Chill but more low-key and less cynical (as Sayles says on the commentary, the later Big Chill is about people realizing they’ve lost their ideals, this is about people struggling to hang on to them) “We slept together—it was just friendly, you know?”

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4 responses to “Movies

  1. Pingback: Movies and TV | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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  3. Pingback: Pets, a tiger woman, the Black Panther and more: Movies and TV (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  4. Pingback: A zeitgeist not our own: two books | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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