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Posts tagged “guilty pleasure

Guilty Pleasure? 27 Dresses


I’m sorry for inflicting this movie unto you, which began Katherine Heigl‘s reign of terror of  romantic comedies, making films more sexist that the ‘sexist’ Knocked Up. I tuned into 27 Dresses just when the impossibly altruistic Jane (Heigl) juggles two weddings during the same night. The Brooklyn Bridge backdrop during a montage makes it obvious that the studio didn’t want to pay real money for an on location shooting if this queen of box office flops follows her tradition.

Jane’s tricks a handful of people except for one man, Kyle Doyle (James Marsden), a marriage hater who writes for the style section of a minor league newspaper. Which, by the way, what other kind of newspapers are there in the Big Apple between the New York Times and tampon wrappers? Maulik Pancholy and Michael Scott’s girlfriend, by the way, costar as Kyle’s co-staffers. Anyway, Jane’s idealistic, he’s cynical, they bicker until the hour mark where he relents and they fall down the fuck in love.

Movies like this sets up glamorous stars like Heigl into ‘best friend’ types. Let’s dye her hair to a honey brunette so she’ll look frumpier compared to her hotter blonde sister, Tess (Malin Akerman), the latter falling in love with Jane’s boss (Edward Burns, Christy Turlington’s husband)! And what kind of person goes to the club and wears a top that makes her look like a Regency-era woman? Although I do admit that there are parts of this characterization that I believe. Heigl morphs her slender bone structure into showing us herself in her younger years, the kind of girl-turned ingenue with puffy cheeks and wore braces as a child. And there’s something about her line deliveries, a little husk in her alto voice, effectively playing a woman that’s frazzled yet witty.

And you know what? I also don’t mind the script, making its main gimmick to make Heigl look like a loser. It also allows its ensemble of B-list actors to talk on top of each other. This is the kind of movie that would be deemed a ‘classic’ had it been released in the 80’s or earlier. James Marsden’s charisma willfully distracts us from how Kyle is Jane’s terribly written foil.

Again, it’s ridiculous to have Katherine Heigl as the ‘always the bridesmaid’ type but it’s equally unfair for the talented Judy Greer to keep holding the ‘slutty best friend’ torch. She thanklessly gives the movie its dirty tongue colour – watch out for some daddy issues and sexual references from other characters too – and she slaps Heigl here, which is something, I assume, that you also want to do.


In praise of Mirren and Coughlan


You might know her as The Queen or as Supt. Jane Tennison whoever but I will always remember Helen Mirren in the first movie I’ve seen her in, playing the title role in Teaching Mrs. Tingle. She’s the stereotypical teacher from hell, 90’s bowl cut, angry American accent and all.

Some film geeks might herald 1999 as a banner year but it was also a part of that decade, seeing the release of many teen movies. We have the headlining adult in this film but where do we get the young stars to get my attention? Why television, of course! At the time Katie Holmes, also coming out with Disturbing Behavior, was then one of successful “Dawson’s Creek” alums. There was also “7th Heaven’s” Barry Watson.

ph. Dimension

But let me present you Marisa Coughlan. While Leigh Ann Watson (Holmes) and Luke Churner (Watson) are ‘going to school or home so they won’t look suspicious,’ they assign Jo Lynn Jordan (Coughlan) to Tingle watch. So ‘aspiring actress’ Jo reenacts famous scenes from classic movies, passing the time. At one point she has to pretend to be Tingle when the married Coach Wenchell (Jeffrey Tambor) comes over, Jo sounding more like Isabella Rosselini instead of Mirren. She has to wear Tingle’s clothes and perfume, coming too vulnerable and close to the dark side.

I find one scene interesting, when Tingle finally makes Jo into believing that Leigh and Luke are having an affair behind her back and Jo readily believing anything she has to say. For argument’s purposes, Jo is being a bad actress in front of Tingle, saying the words ‘You’re lying’ so insipidly but the latter can’t see it. I don’t know how intentional this is on Coughlan’s part, or that writer-director Kevin Williamson can’t transition from one part of the scene to another, but I’ll call this subversion. Points for Miss Coughlan.


Flashdance


We know the classic moments from Flahsdance, about Alex (Jennifer Beals), a Pittsburgh go-go dancer. There’s the sexy dance number with her on stage and water falling down on her. There’s the audition – she falls and asks to start again which would never happen, knowing from all the “So You Think You Can Dance” episodes we’ve seen. What happens in between are slice of life scenes of an independent 18-year-old girl living on her own. We see different aspects of the city, all seemingly separate except for the fact that Alex experiences them all. Those scenes should be interesting to me but somehow they pale compared to the two scenes I mentioned earlier.

ph. Paramount

There’s also the theatrical lighting used in the film. The dance numbers, Alex’s sister skating, the cook-turned comedian who dreams of LA with jokes that are definitely racist in today’s standards. All of them are silhouettes to the spotlight, looking for the veneration of the people they share Pittsburgh with. Alex isn’t the only middle-American youth with a dream.

It’s also surprising that Jennifer Beals, who in reputation is a full-blooded woman, actually looks young here, and young in a sense of too young. There’s a vulnerability to her small body. Nonetheless, her bike-riding Alex is independent enough, has enough spark and peer support to have fun experiencing this ‘being young in the city’ thing. Nothing can bring her down.


Dukes of Hazzard


This is the only movie I’ve seen in LA back in 2005. Mark McGrath was in the audience, or I assumed he was unless he was smart enough to watch something else. Don’t denigrate this movie too much, however. The film adaptation of The Dukes of Hazzard has the misfortune of the cast being too manicured to look believable Southern ‘yokels’ as the cast of the TV series would have looked like three years ago. It’s also the first and only movie I’ll probably watch with Jessica Simpson, here the iconic Daisy Duke and she’s actually passable in here, as well as the two leads Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott.

Read some more. The film’s also made and set in 2005, and although America’s pretty divided then, the movie’s premise that again, Southern ‘yokels’ can also be environmentalists, actually work here. The Dukes’ enemy is a famous race car driver from Hazzard County, Georgia, who’s kept his accent yet is indifferent the county’s environmental ruin. He’s not an elitist, and that someone is trying to destroy his home and relegate the words ‘shit hole’ to it kind of hurts, actually. This film instead goes back to earlier Southern attitudes of loving their land and sticking through it in either its best or worst. And Southerners who have no qualms on pretending to be Japanese?

Speaking of America’s (re)division is the contentious rebel flag on the roof of the Duke mobile, or whatever they call it. The brothers go to Atlanta to find the results of the soil sample tests, they meet a traffic jam, people heckle them for not being in the 21st century. There are different kinds of Americans who still use the rebel flag, those who know what it means now and uses it to hurt others and those who stick to the flag for its past and are oblivious and/or indifferent to what it means now. I don’t know what it says about me that I’m not fully outraged for the second set of reasons.

Talking about this movie is probably a bad place to bring up the discussion above, and probably the worst to bring up what I’m discussing in the next paragraph. As a tacky gag to show how different and insular the Dukes of Hazzard are to the rest of the world, they reach a university Atlanta and get information about Japan and Australia wrong. They mess with the labs, get coal on their face and end up in a predominantly black neighborhood. Why did the two girls at the back seats they nothing? Is it because for some reason they’re dumb even if they’re going to college? I have this weird fascination with blackface and yellow face and yeah, it’s wrong and I don’t know why on both counts neither. The black people in the neighborhood have been brought up through generations and have their own spins to their culture, and these two white boys show up like that and think they can get away with it? The same goes with the theatrical tradition that is alive today – I’m looking at you, Angelina Jolie! This movie doesn’t answer my questions in all, even if for two seconds I thought it did.

Also, I slightly dislike Burt Reynolds.

After this movie and Mamma Mia, I’m thinking of having a guilty pleasure tag. I’m not cruel nor hypocritical enough to call this movie bad.


Mamma Mia!


So I missed the first 20 minutes of this. Sophie Sheridan (Amada Seyfried) invites three of her potential fathers (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, who are more shirtless than the women in this film will ever be) to the Greek island resort that she and her mother runs. She does so because it’s her wedding soon and she wants to know which one is the real father. Her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) doesn’t know about all of this. We wouldn’t suspect sluttiness from someone wearing overalls.

Oh hai Sky, Dominic Cooper having the most ‘decent’ character here for his CV. Also hai Julie Walters, who gets blindsided by bad lighting when she’s with her co-stars. Thankfully she gets a song of her own that’s also an ABBA favourite and does her best to sell it, just like some of the other supporting cast do. Also Skarsgard in his most all-American.

ph. Universal

Seyfried here can handle the comic aspects of this film as with her earlier films. She talks over and under other characters so naturally and sometimes behaves as if she’s surprised by her own words. She and Meryl match both in the emotional levels, rapport and blonde hair. This movie makes the case for her being the best Meryl Streep’s daughter figure in film, the spot held by Lindsay Lohan’s underrated performance in A Prairie Home Companion, but thankfully Seyfried’s whining here still makes Lohan the victor. Speaking of mother-daughter, Michelle Pfeiffer was considered to play Donna, both Seyfried and Pfeiffer having those wide captivating eyes. Before I get depressed.

Oh no, the depression won’t stop, that despite the film does remind me of the licentiousness of the disco group in a time when they seemed tame compared to punk bands, ABBA’s music going well with the women reflecting on their former ways. As well as those ways haunting them when Donna realizes what the former has done. Streep’s vocals and interpretation are the best in this cast, making the lyrics lighter instead of growling them or evoking too much emotion from them. There’s also literal transition between the characters speaking and singing, which I very much appreciate.

Nonetheless they’re still butchering ABBA. And I can’t believe I’m actually putting ABBA on a pedestal by writing that sentence. It’s either Donna Sheridan and her friends (Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) sounding like karaoke that comes up short. There’s also Seyfried being pop autotuned, and I’m not even blaming her for that. I actually like her rendition of “I Have a Dream,” a song I know because Westlife covered it.  The seventies flair just isn’t always there, only coming up in songs sung by the chorus group. There’s an ABBA song once every five minutes, reminding us of the cast’s imperfect renditions. Of course, the adapted musical tradition of the songs being used in a montage. There’s also me hating the sight of men in swimsuits for the first time because they’re in flippers and singing another song. Why is Brosnan the lead male cast member? He has great chemistry with Streep, both cancelling each other out, but did they have to give him the most songs? I also don’t mind his voice, but it’s not like he can pay me to listen to him sing again. Also, why is Seyfried wearing a peasant skirt? I know it’s a resort but that trend is three years too old!

For someone dipping her foot into film, director Phyllida Lloyd jumps her camera from one place to another, going against theatrical staging/POV’s. Which I appreciate actually, even if I’m a snob when it comes to letting adapted musicals/plays on film staying as stage-y and with a meditative pace as many musicals and/or plays are. She use the scenes well and making it, I guess, cinematic in its spaciousness. She also makes everything happens so snappily, portraying what seems like a two-day time frame.

I also like the Aegean blue used in the mise-en-scene and costumes. They even use the blue in the shot in Donna’s bedroom, in both cases feminizing a normally masculine colour. The few times the film noticeably breaks from the colour palette happen in the film’s third act is when Donna wears a pink scarf with her blue dress, as she’s pouring her heart out to Brosnan’s character. The second time will be the yellows and browns leading to the wedding scene. I don’t know what those colours mean.

Nonetheless everything and the Chekovian crack on the floor, I forgive this movie for all its transgressions.