Movie review: Melancholia

Movie review: Melancholia
I dragged Big Guns to see this film on Sunday night. There were only nine of us in the theater, which was awkward. (I’ll explain shortly.)

I stand by my previous assessment of Lars von Trier and I still have a love/hate relationship with him. His films are so hard to watch, but riveting and I can’t not watch. I don’t know how he reaches that deep, disturbing place. It’s not the subject matter. Plenty of movies have been made about depression and injustice and the evil people are capable of, but his are more visceral. I suppose I could try and analyze them frame by frame, but I would have to take breaks to smell flowers and pet kittens to prevent myself from drawing a warm bath and opening a vein or two.

Lars does not shy away from ugly or difficult. He makes you stay with it even as it gets uglier. It’s gut wrenching and painful and frustrating watching his character, Justine (who he supposedly based on his own self) be depressed. You want to kill her or hospitalize her. (Here’s why it was awkward to see with Big Guns; he was so emotionally involved and distraught, he started yelling at the screen: “You bitch!” “Don’t do that.” “What’s wrong with her?”) The story is also about her co-dependent sister who married very well, but continues to rescue and care for Justine. The third main character is the huge planet, Melancholia, previously hidden behind the sun and which may or may not crash into and annihilate Earth. (It’s a metaphor for how depression–or melancholia–destroys everything.)

Like a student film, it’s beautifully indulgent and rich with imagery. Like a Lars von Trier film, it upset me and made me want to dream a new ending.

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Book review: Such a Pretty Fat

It’s chick lit and memoir and, for that reason alone, probably doesn’t deserve a review at all but I have to write something because the author, Jen Lancaster, so disturbs me. Is it okay to be a bitch if you admit you’re a bitch? What if you’re a funny bitch? Does that let you off the hook? Can you forgive bad behavior if it makes a person laugh?

Jen has a lot of road rage, calls 9-1-1 all the time to report homeless people and loud neighbors, and tells people off when they piss her off. This behavior makes me uncomfortable.

With four memoirs under her very large belt, I admire her self acceptance and unwillingness to buy into the society pressure to try to be a size 4. However, her health is suffering from her size–high cholesterol and blood pressure and “she sweats when she eats.” She writes, “It’s possible that my high self-esteem is bad for my health.” She goes on several diets–Atkins, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers–and writes about it. She also throws in random thoughts about culture, her neighbors, drinking and dogs. She drinks a lot and she loves food. (She might have the more disease, but only she can say for sure.) I’ve watched enough cooking shows to know that there are people who love food more than I do, I’ve just never spent so much time with them as I spent with Jen. (377 pages to be exact.)

Her writing style is breezy and bloggy and, in fact, she’s all over social media. A lot of women call themselves fat when they are not (guilty) so I Googled her. Yeah. She’s really chubby. Kudos for being honest. Then I saw that she was also a very conservative, McCain supporter. That put me over: it always really bothers me when conservatives, the same one who want to make cuts and more cuts, complain about homeless people and abuse the services our taxes pay for (9-1-1 in her case). On top of that, she wears polo shirts, Crocs, and capris. Alone, any one of these is a deal breaker. I’m going to have to play my own bitch card and not recommend.

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Movie review: Fast Five

This is a guy boner movie: fast cars, under-dressed woman, criminals with hearts of gold.

Vin Diesel (who can’t really act except for this great upper-lip quiver he does but is still way better than Christine Aguilera–more on her in my Burlesque post) is Dominic or Dom who’s self-created family is a bunch of car thieves like himself. His sister and her bf, a former Fed, bust him out of prison and they all end up in Brazil. (We know it’s Brazil because we get an aerial shot of Christ on Corcovado mountain every 15 minutes.) They get set up by an unequivocally evil, crooked business man and decide to rob him and assemble their familial crew of uniquely talented thieves. (I was okay with this because it’s not bad to rob evil people.)

There are really inventive stunts, great car races through the streets of Rio and great fight scenes. After I got home, I was in bed wondering if two suped-up Celicas could really pull a safe full of $100 M. How much does that safe weigh? Wouldn’t the cables snap? And could you really outrun a Ford Explorer not pulling a safe? And how plausible is it to drive through a wall and not hit electric wires or plumbing? Then I remembered that this is a guy’s fantasy. Duh. You get away with whatever you want and you get the girl and the money. That’s not a spoiler because in these types of movies, the bad guys are really bad, the girls are really skinny, and the dudes always win. Fast Five is a really entertaining, terrific example of this genre.

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Movie Review: The Bridesmaids.

This was the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time. Kristen Wiig of SNL plays Annie, an underemployed semi-loser who’s going through a rough patch–her boyfriend’s left her and her bakery business has folded (no pun intended). Her best friend, Lillian, gets engaged to a rich dude and, although Annie is Maid of Honor, his boss’s rich wife takes charge of Lillian’s shower/engagement party/wedding because she’s got unlimited resources and is a great party thrower. That doesn’t sound very funny but there are some great bits. John Hammond of Don Draper fame plays Annie’s “fuck buddy.” One morning he rolls over in bed and smiles at her and says, “I really want you to leave but I don’t want to say it because that would make sound like such a dick.” There’s a scatalogically funny scene in a swank, all-white bridal shop where the gals come down with food poisoning. (I have boys; I still find poop funny.). And there is a painfully funny competitive tennis match at the country club. What can I say? I’m a sucker for physical humor. There are great peripheral characters, too, such as Annie’s mother who isn’t an alcoholic but is in AA because of the great stories. I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie since 40-Year-Old Virgin and every Mel Brooks’ film. I’m not going to waste any more time so you can get to the next matinee. Go see now!

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Movie review: Limitless

I saw this a week ago–a week ago!–and I’m having a hard time writing a review. Not because it wasn’t entertaining. It was as good as anything I’ve seen this year, last year and the year before. And that’s why it’s hard to review it. It wasn’t outstandingly great or shockingly bad. It didn’t change movie making or challenge me in any way. No movie has in a long time, even the ones I’ve given good reviews to. Even though I’ve been entertained, I just haven’t felt yippy skippy/call my friends about a movie  since The Bad Lieutenant, Blue Velvet, Room with a ViewThe Cook, the Thief, his Wife, and her Lover, early Woody Allen movies, or even The Russians are Coming. Those were movies I wanted to talk about and copy and memorize lines from. Nobody is going to do an homage to Limitless.

That isn’t to say it wasn’t good. It was. Bradley Cooper is really handsome and charming.  (Although, oddly, his fingernails were dirty throughout the film; maybe it was supposed to mean something?) The plot is that he is given a pill that gives him access to the 80% of his brain that isn’t used. (You’ve heard that we only use 20% of our brains, right?) He gets really, super smart and uses those smarts to get really, super rich. (And finish his novel in four days. Bastard.) He also gets his girl back. Here’s the rub: like any drug, he needs more and more of it to achieve the same results but his supply is finite and he is unable to get more. As he gets closer to running out, he discovers that other people are in his same predicament and want the few pills he has left. He also learns that there are side effects and they are fatal. Like any drug, it eventually kills you.

I was disappointed in the ending, which I felt was too convenient and glossed over and unbelievable if I can even say that given that the premise of the movie is fantasy. However, I did expect an anti-drug message. Bradley somehow figures out how to buck the system, to have his drug and be smart, happy and healthy, too.

A few days before we saw Limitless, my son had received a grade on a paper that was lower than he wanted and was asking me if there was any way he could add points to his IQ. I told him there was not and had often wished to be smarter myself. Would I take a pill that made me smarter with the risk of eventually killing me? Hell yes, but I have a problem with magical thinking and addiction. Come to think of it, I suppose this film is just another drug film except for the users don’t just think drugs makes them clear headed and smarter, drugs actually make them clear headed and smarter.

I just spent a few sentences thinking about this film. Maybe it does elicit additional thoughts after the credits roll? Go see it and find out for yourself.

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Movie review: The Adjustment Bureau

I saw my boy Matt’s latest movie this weekend. It’s no secret how I feel about Matt so of course this review will be biased and non objective. He’s a terrific actor, picks good material, and he just floats my boat. (My only issue with him is that he and his wife keep popping out babies–they are up to three now plus another from her first marriage and everybody knows that adding more Americans to this stressed Earth is not such a good idea.)

The plot: Matt’s character, a young, hopeful Senator from New York, accidentally sees behind the scenes and finds out that we only think we have free will and control our lives, but, in fact, the bigger decisions are made by “the chairman” and carried out by his guides, sort of angels who look like men in suits. (Why no women??) The conflict is that one of the decisions being made for the Matt character is that he can’t be with the woman he loves, Emily Blount, a dancer. Matt–and I–wonder why this is but we are never given the reasons for keeping them apart. That was frustrating.

Matt’s character is impulsive but honest, loyal, romantic and true, which should help maintain and swell the ranks of his robust fan club. Personally I would have liked more footage of Matt’s bare chest although my body-builder boyfriend said that wouldn’t have been a good thing since he could tell by the puffiness in Matt’s face that he is not in the best shape of his career. I think that with all those babies at home, Matt’s probably not getting much sleep. Doesn’t he just seem like the kind of guy who’d get up for nighttime feedings?

Emily? She was good, too. And not a bad dancer.

The movie has received good reviews all over the place. Most critics agree that the chemistry between Matt and Emily is great; we are really pulling for them. They both have big smiles and nice teeth. It’s a perfect date movie–a combination of action and romance that will keep every gender entertained. Go see.

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Bloody hell: the o.b. tampon mystery.

Look, ma! No applicator. It’s the original green tampon but I bet you can’t find them anywhere.

Have you seen the Seinfeld where Elaine finds out that her favorite birth control, the Sponge, is being discontinued and scours the city for remaining boxes? Now imagine that Elaine is PMS and she’s searching for her favorite tampon. That would be me and o.b. tampons. (I know–you thought I was too old for that biz.) However, o.b. is the Best Foods mayonnaise of tampons. Now imagine you went to the store one day and Best Foods was simply gone from the shelves? Poof! That’s what happened with my tampons. I haven’t said anything because, well, it’s just weird to be attached to a brand of tampons. Here’s the weirder thing: I’m not alone. There are stories on the NY Times, CBS News and blogs. This from the article on MSNBC:

On eBay, a dozen people have already submitted bids for one of several boxes of Ultra o.b. tampons up for sale, with the price currently at $28.75. Third-party sellers who advertise their wares on have priced boxes of o.b. tampons as high as $79.99.

(I should mention that the Ultra size has been permanently discontinued, a fact I would withhold from a pre-menstrual women, especially if she is holding a knife. On the other hand, check your purses, gym bags, and medicine cabinets for Ultras. You could be sitting on a goldmine!)

This from CNN Money (and I felt silly going to two Targets):

“I’ve spent about 3 hours driving between 6 different stores today and yesterday, in heavy traffic, looking for OB tampons,” one discouraged o.b. fan wrote in an online forum. “I couldn’t find any at all, in any size!”

Johnson & Johnson makes the product and claim that the problem, whatever it was, has been cleared up and has been shipping o.b. since early January, but, as of yesterday, my Target’s shelves were still void.

The comments on this article are the best part. Then again, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

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