In the past week or so, I've spent a good many hours in the theater ... two of those hours actually included company! I'd forgotten what that felt like. In order of viewing:
The Girlfriend Experience
The GF Experience is Steven Soderbergh's (Erin Brokovich, Traffic, Full Frontal, the Ocean's movies) new film about the life of a Manhattan escort and her physical trainer boyfriend, who is fully aware of his girlfriend's occupation. It takes place in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, so much of the plot and dialogue centers on the financial crisis, Gobama, etc.; there are many scenes where she (real-life porn star Sasha Grey) is lounging about in her lingerie, as some awful financial clown jabbers away on his cell phone about his impending failure and losses.
Chelsea, our escort, has the cold, disconnected act down when it comes to her clients; she realizes that they don't want to know the "real" her (though, it's unclear throughout the film if there even is a real her), they pay her to be who they want her to be. Yeah, yeah, we've heard it before. She's also an obscenely good businesswoman, and Soderbergh shows her meeting with all sorts of straight business types who are helping her brand herself in various forms (one leads to an unfortunate meeting with a NJ website "reviewer" who provokes one of the only scenes where we see her show any real emotion).
All seems pretty hunky-dory until she meets one of her new clients and has an instant connection with him; we learn that though she seems astute in many ways, she also believes in some cooky "personology" and decides she needs to see where this connection goes.
She tells her boyfriend she's going away for the weekend. He doesn't take too kindly to that. After all, he argues, they've been together for a year and a half! They live together!! She's just going to throw it all away? Just like that?
Yes, she says. And so it goes on from there.
There are some major faults. The editing, oof -- it's very non-linear, which is fine, and often ideal for me. But it's no Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs-type of working backwards; rather, it's jumpy and often confusing. It's also unclear why it was so necessary to set it sooooo conscpicuously at the end of 2008 (also, what happened to "movies take foreeeever to make"??). There aren't really any insinuations that Chelsea's pushed to prostitution because of dire straits due to the financial crisis, but Lord knows they won't stop talking about it throughout the movie. Is the gross consumption on the part of her clients during these times supposed to be a criticism or reprimand? He never makes that very clear, if so.
Also, her boyfriend's role and character is very muddled. For all his whining about her abandoning the relationship, you want to punch him in his washboard abs and ask him what he was thinking in the first place? Not only is your girlfriend sleeping with a million other men with your approval, she's also crazy.
Ahh, the more I think about the flaws, the less I like it. Ms. Grey is pretty good, though a little too deadpan even for a cold-hearted, upscale hooker.
The Girlfriend Experience trailer (is pretty ridiculous).
Drag Me to Hell
Ahhh, I'd been wanting to see Sam Raimi's new scary movie since I first saw the trailer months ago.
Alison Lohman (Matchstick Men) plays Christine Brown, a middle-class young woman who grew up on a farm and who now works as a loan officer at a regional bank. She is vying for an assistant manager position and in order to beat out her competition, an annoying and unscrupulous newer coworker Stu (Reggie Lee), her boss tells her she needs to be able to make tough decisions, and, well, Stu, he's just so aggressive.
Enter a crazy old woman with a big, creepy eyeball, warts, and slime oozing out of her denture-full mouth; she's in desperate need of an extension on her mortgage payment. Having just been told she needs to make those tough decisions, however, Christine turns her down. The old woman begs, she pleads, she gets down on her knees and causes a scene!
Nope, no can do, old lady, but she's really sorry, she'd love to help if she could.
"You shame me! You SHAME ME!"
Well, we see where it goes from there. The old woman curses Christine; there's a scene where, having been told maybe sacrificing an animal might help kill this curse, Christine is found saying "Here, kitty, kitty..."; there are some pretty awesome fight scenes between the old woman and Ms. Brown; there are seers, a lot of speaking in tongues, etc.
I was balled up in my chair with my eyes covered for a lot of it, though you laugh at a lot, as well.
Lived up to my expectations, almost.
Drag Me to Hell trailer:
Doug's (Justin Bartha) getting married, so he and three of his buds are going to Vegas for his bachelor party. After a night of hard partying, they wake up in their $4,000-a-night villa unable to remember a thing after their initial Jaeger shot on the roof. Straight-laced Stu (Ed Helms, of The Office) has a missing front tooth; Idiot Alan (Zach Galifianakis) awakes with no underwear on and stumbles into the bathroom where a tiger awaits; and Pretty-Boy Phil (Bradley Cooper) tells everyone to calm down, all that matters is that they had a good time (he thinks) and they should now get a move on and get Doug back home to prepare for the wedding.
But Doug's not there.
The rest of the movie is just a silly series of stumbling onto clues as to the whereabouts of Doug, each clue unfolding a new crazy detail of their night. Stu married a stripper (Heather Graham), they stole a police car, bags got switched and they're being chased by Mr. Chow (the now ever-present Ken Jeong), etc.
It's too silly, and I had higher expectations for Todd Phillips, the guy responsible for Old School -- that probably says something (bad) about my taste and judgment.
Ed Helms was my favorite part, and it was nice seeing Mike Tyson sing a bit of Phil Collins.
The Hangover trailer:
Away We Go
I may have to head back to the movies today to redeem myself for seeing this ... my only excuse is, well, there aren't really any excuses. I'd seen just about everything at Union Square, save for Night at the Museum 2, so... anyway. (I knew I'd see this movie after I first saw the trailer...oh, weaknesses.)
Burt (John Krasinski ... or, better known as my love, Jim Halpert!) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are about to have their first child; they live in the middle of no where near Burt's parents, but we quickly fiind that the 'rents have decided to up and move to Belgium. They've been planning to move for 15 years, but Burt freaks out because he and Verona had only moved there to be close to them. The parents are cooky and over-the-top, and don't understand their son's dismay.
So, Verona suggests they move. They draw up a list of places to check out: Phoenix, Tucson, Madison, Montreal, Miami. Every town they visit has a few friends or relatives where they could see themselves raising their child, and each segment of the movie begins with a white-on-black title shot announcing the new city. Allison Janney plays crazy (and insufferable) Lily in Phoenix; Maggie Gyllenhaal plays "LN" a weirdo new age philosophy teacher who doesn't believe in strollers and believes in parents and children sharing beds ... at all times; their college friends in Montreal can't have a baby, so they run a zoo of adopted children in their apartment.
It was co-written by Dave Eggers ("A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"), and the film is similar in spirit to that book (I think I'm one of the few people who didn't care much for it ...).
I will admit that there are moments when Mr. Krasinski is holding his lady telling her (lies) about his infinite love for her and how their love is different and, oh, he'll never leave her, yadda-yadda where--after suppressing the urge to throw my M&M's and Skittles at the screen--I looked left and right to ensure I was alone, then may have let a tiny tearlet trickle out. But only one.
But I'm moving! I'm having emotional turmoil. Hmph.
It was okay, overall.
Ahh, now that I've spent my morning on this for no reason, back to a short story involving a Manhattan woman and some trees (that look like "oversized brocoli florets") she's having hoisted to her roof. Page 11 ... aiming for 15 today. What am I doing with my life? Nothing useful, that's what.