Month: October 2014

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – 9/30/14

2012 -Mentally unstable people scream at each other for two hours.

Nobody smiles in the actual movie.

Nobody smiles in the actual movie.

Having a psychological illness is trendy. Did you know that? Well, it’s trendy if you have one of the “good” illnesses, like depression or bipolar disorder. Those are the ones that attractive, stylish people have. In this movie, being bipolar just means you’re adorably awkward and speak your mind (unlike the repressed, PHONY non-mentally-ill people) and maybe punch your dad in the face now and again, but who doesn’t?

Silver Linings Playbook Bradley CooperEEEEEH, OOOOOH, I’M PAT! SUNDAYS USED TO BE GREAT, HUH? MOM WOULD MAKE BRACIOLE BECAUSE EEEH, OOOH, WE’RE AN ITAAAAAAALIAN FAMILY, HUH? BUT NOW LIFE SUCKS ‘CUZ MY WIFE WAS CHEATIN’ ON ME AND I WAS IN THE NUTHOUSE FOR EIGHT MONTHS AND I’M BIPOLAR AND DON’T TAKE MY MEDICAAAAATIOOOOON!

Silver Linings Playbook De NiroEEEEEH, OOOOOH, CALM DOWN SON! I’M BOBBY DE NIRO, HUH? I MEAN, UH, I’M PAT SR.! OOOOOH, I’M AN ITALIAN DAD, SO OF COURSE I HAVE AN ILLEGAL BOOKMAKING BUSINESS! MY SON’S A NUT AND I LOVE THE EAGLES AND HAVE A TON OF CRAZY SUPERSTITIONS ABOUT THE GAME! EEEEEH, WATCH THE BIRDS WITH ME, SON! C’MOOOOON!

Silver Linings Playbook Sopranos guyEEEEEH, OOOOOH, COOL IT THERE BOBBY! I’M RANDY, BUT YOU MAY REMEMBER ME FROM HBO’S THE SOPRANOS! I’M ALSO ITAAAAALIAN, AND I’M ALSO A BOOKMAKER! PAT SR. WANTS TO USE HIS CRIME MONEY TO OPEN A RESTAURANT, BUT HE’S GOTTA WIN A FEW BETS WITH ME FIRST!

Silver Linings Playbook Jennifer LawrenceFUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUU, REST OF THE CAST! I’M TIFFANY, AND I’M JUST AS CRAZY IF NOT CRAZIER THAN PAT! MY HUSBAND’S DEAD AND I SLEEP AROUND AND PAT’S AN ASSHOLE FOR WANTING TO GET BACK WITH HIS WIFE! I WANT HIM TO BE MY PARTNER IN A DANCE CONTEST! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

Silver Linings Playbook Chris TuckerWHAT DUH FUUUUUU – I’M CHRIS TUCKER, Y’ALL! HOW IN DA HELL DID I GET IN THIS MOVIE? WHY DA HELL IS MY CHARACTER EVEN IN IT? DO I DO ANYTHING? NO? OKAY! SHIT!

If you’re into movies where people yell and scream at each other while loud music plays, this is the one for you! It was evidently the first since 1981 to be nominated for the four acting Oscar categories and the first since 2004 to be nominated for the “big five.” I’d give it a “C.”

The plot involves Pat’s quest to get back with his wife after catching her cheating on him and nearly beating her lover to death. He moves back in with his parents and strikes up an extremely unlikely friendship/flirt-ship with Tiffany, his friend’s wife’s widowed sister. In exchange for smuggling letters to his wife, who has a restraining order against him, Tiffany convinces Pat to enter a dance competition with her. After some close-up shots of her jiggling breasts and butt, it’s clear that Pat’s starting to fall for her.

During Oscar season, the real “money” clips from this movie were of the shouting scenes, and there certainly are a lot to select from. Jennifer Lawrence screaming at Bradley Cooper on the street, Bradley Cooper yelling at his parents in the attic. Pat goes to visit Jennifer and meets her parents. Shouting. Pat goes to an Eagles game. Shouting. Pat comes home from the Eagles game. Additional shouting. The family relationships are more absurdly dysfunctional than an episode of Dr. Phil.

My big problem with this movie started about 88 minutes in, when the most contrived scenario imaginable gets in gear. Pat Sr. bets ALL of his bookmaking money on the outcome of an Eagles game, convinced that Pat’s “good luck” presence at the stadium will guarantee a win. Unfortunately Pat gets into a scrap with some racist Eagles fans (you know the type), not just “causing” the Birds to lose but also missing his dance practice with Jennifer. He returns home and all hell breaks loose – Pat Sr. screaming “IT’S ALL FUCKIN’ RUINED! YOU’RE A FUCKIN’ LOSER!” at his son, everyone else in the room screaming over each other, and then Tiffany busting in to scream at Pat for missing their date.

Suddenly the whole “crisis” of the movie hinges on the fact that Pat Sr. thinks Tiffany is a “jinx” on the Eagles. So Tiffany, who hates football, rattles off the score of every single game in order to prove that she’s actually good luck. Everyone stands around with the most obvious “Wow… impressive” looks on their faces. The scene is going for a “girl power beat-down” vibe so obviously that it hurts.

Silver Linings Playbook NiceBut we don’t stop there! Rival bookmaker Randy agrees to give Pat Sr. a shot at getting his money back – staking it all on the outcome of another Eagles game as well as Pat and Tiffany’s dance contest. Come on. Just… come on. All things considered, I’d rank Silver Linings Playbook as the second best high-stakes-dance-contest-dependent plot I’ve seen (behind 1966’s Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster).

I’m a sucker for cute love stories. This one could have been solid, but it needed to be 40 minutes shorter, 30 decibels lower, and one Chris Tucker less. In the plus column, if you enjoy hearing 60-something guys argue about football and can’t listen to talk radio, this movie will more than satisfy your cravings.

AMERICAN PSYCHO – 9/28/14

2000A wealthy New York executive hides his psychopathic personality from his co-workers and friends as he spirals deeper into grotesque, violent fantasies.

"I can't believe Bryce prefers Van Patten's card to mine."

“I can’t believe Bryce prefers Van Patten’s card to mine.”

I was hesitant to watch this movie based on its reputation alone – I’m not a big gore fan, and serial killers (especially the cannibals and necrophiliacs) scare me to death. So when I started this one at 1:00 AM, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

American Psycho was a pleasant surprise. On a pop cultural level, it was a movie way, way ahead of its time. In an era when serial killers are like vampires – cool, sexy, moody, but with that requisite compassionate side that makes the ladies swoon – Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is the ultimate deconstruction. If it’s true that “all girls want bad guys,” your basic fictional serial killer is the pinnacle of dark, menacing allure. You might mistake Bateman for one of these – until he’s chasing a woman through his hotel with a chainsaw or trying to obey an ATM machine that tells him, “Feed me a stray cat.

The serial killer aspect is only secondary to this film, however. It’s a satire on the emptiness of so-called “high society,” and although it was targeted at the 1980s it resonates just as deeply today. Bateman works at his father’s company (we never see him doing any actual work) in mergers and acquisitions (misspelled “aquisitions” on his business card). He’s engaged to a woman (Reese Witherspoon) that he can’t stand and is friends with a bunch of guys he holds in contempt. His life is an empty parade of dinner parties and night clubs, and he looks for deeper meaning in pop acts like Huey Lewis and the News.

The world he inhabits is completely superficial, and he has no sense of who he is or where he fits in. He’s constantly being mistaken for other people – he’s called Marcus, Davis, and “Mr. Smith” by people who either should know him or assume they do. While he might be handsome and impeccably dressed, so is everyone he knows. His business card, of which he is inordinately proud, is virtually identical to everyone else’s (they all have the same title, phone number, and typo).

The fact that he’s a depraved, misogynistic killer might make him stand out from the crowd and give him some identity… but nobody seems to notice that, either. Bateman’s victims aren’t missed – his own lawyer claims to have dinner with one of them, twice, after their brutal murder. He leaves heaps of evidence behind – he drags a body across his own hotel lobby, leaving a streak of blood – but nobody cares. One of his colleagues catches him stuffing a body into the trunk of a cab and simply asks, “Patrick… where did you get that overnight bag?” He even tries to confess, but nobody listens (mishearing “murders and executions” as “mergers and acquisitions”) or believes him (his lawyer assumes he’s making a joke on his own harmless, vanilla persona). In this society, true meaning is impossible to attain, no matter how extreme your attempts to find it might become.

American Psycho is essentially the dark comedy to end all dark comedies. The trick is to make sure you’re laughing at the right thing.