queue de grâce begins anew today. if you're late to the party, go here for a brief introduction to our game. i'll wait...
good. now that everyone is up to speed, let's get this thing underway. right off the bat, cabby is going for the throat.
i know, meg. i can hardly believe it myself. without even a moment to catch my breath, i am saddled with rob reiner's when harry met sally (1989). apparently, this is "the last great romantic comedy". who knew? this just straight up depresses me for all kinds of reasons, the biggest one of which is what its near-universal acclaim says about us. it makes me feel sorry. for me. for you. for us. i don't know how many ways i can say it. the things they pass off as true just don't apply to me. and i don't think they apply to you, either. if they do, then we're in worse shape than i imagine. it means we have simply abdicated all of our intellectual responsibilities for the reflex ease of "it's funny because it's true, har har har har". so many bad lessons i don't even know where to start - the major impetus for getting married is not having to date anymore. all men want to leave thirty seconds after sex is over. all women want to cuddle all night. there is no compromising this and there is certainly no way each could find themselves anywhere along that spectrum of behavior at any given time other than their rightful spot at opposite ends. it's worth a bad relationship because "at least you can say you were married". all men love wagon wheel coffee tables. blah blah blah.
bullshit, all of it. it's ok to be alone, america. it's ok to be alone and an individual. it's very simple. make your list of guy things and girl things. again, i'll wait...
when you examine that list and realize that the ones attributed to your gender that you actually engage in enough to be what you would call defining characteristics are actually in the distinct minority of what defines you then we can all stop the nonsense. then, when you happen to notice that there are actually aspects of your personality that might be more at home on the opposite gender list, we can, with any luck, throw the last shovel of dirt on these "truisms". the only list you'll have left is the list of things you do, and you will just happen to be a man or a woman. then, maybe, we can actually begin to talk about these things in a way that's not quite so lazy. we'll get better movies out of the deal. i have other crazy ideas too, like getting married because you consider someone a true partner and you make each others' lives better, but we can go into that some other time. there's something else that's bugging me.
hmm...now where have i seen that before?
oh yeah, that's it.
as if the abhorrently lazy gender stereotypes weren't enough, the whole thing plays out like a third-rate mishmash of woody allen. from the extremely palatable jazz/unadorned typography of the credits to the unmistakably new york backdrops to the sitcom versions of neuroses on display, it's like junior varsity annie hall (1977) (except woody didn't feel the need to cop to the happy ending). just make sure you take out any kierkegaard references and replace them with some sharper image product placement and you're in business. don't even get me started with the karaoke butchering of "the surrey with the fringe on top".we okies take that shit very seriously.
billy crystal as a womanizer? this whole thing hinges on an irresistible attraction to billy crystal? we are through the looking glass here, people. his character is introduced with a kiss/camera move lifted straight out of the thomas crown affair (1968) except i am pretty sure steve mcqueen didn't have to stand on a crate we he did it.
i imagine carrie fisher smells overwhelmingly like makeup and gin.
it wasn't all a total loss, though. it's never a total loss when you have bruno kirby around. and, in sally's defense, she did eventually graduate from going with paul henreid to staying with humphrey bogart in casablanca (1942). her khaki shorts/knee socks/sweater ensemble from the first scene does certain things to me and the line "don't fuck with mr. zero" never ceases to be funny. the presence of that single laugh raises it from F to F+.
oh, one last thing. but first, allow me to present my card:
those adorable couples recounting tales of decades of their lives spent chasing, wooing and loving one another? actors. all of them.
next we have michael kalesniko's how to kill your neighbor's dog (2000), a strange titular parallel with chelsea's choice of how to be a serial killer (2008) in our first go-round.
i liked it, but probably mainly because it appealed to the curmudgeon in me. kenneth branagh and robin wright penn play a couple with sharply divided opinions about just how much they need a baby in their lives. he is the misanthropic playwright, she the instructor keeping her biological clock at bay by teaching classes of young girls to dance. the spanner in the works is the new neighbor kid, amy. before long, branagh warms to the idea of having a youngster around, and he begins to help her confront some of the challenges that are a result of her mild cerebral palsy. i know, i know. sounds like a by-the-book tugger of the heartstrings, but it really isn't. you get the sense that the the message isn't the hallmark, "all children are miracles" variety but, rather, that greatness, or, more accurately, goodness, occurs in children in about the same ratio as adults and this just happens to be one child whose goodness merits our attention. it's a pleasure to see the selfishness in the desire to have children be honestly addressed for once in a film and branagh and wright penn provide a nice balance for one another, especially in the pivotal scene where branagh verbally demolishes the girl's mother for her selfishness and wright penn rightly grills him in return about how little his outburst would ultimately help. unlike in the film mentioned above, you get a nice sense that this a real couple, with a real partnership, who just happen to be at loggerheads about a difficult question. when they look at each other, they are seeing the redeeming qualities in one another that make their problem one worth solving. they aren't seeing cartoonish abstractions of a hopeless battle of the sexes. the film works best when is it some combination of them and the girl. it loses a little steam when it visits the theater where branagh's new play is in production or when he meets up with his stalker/doppelgänger on his insomniac strolls. to counter that, there is a tensely hilarious "wake up, los angeles"-type morning show interview segment and the seemingly inexhaustible well of comedy gold that is the ol' prostate exam.
exactly how i felt during when harry met sally, strangely enough.
ok, a rocky start, but we pulled out of our initial dive and have leveled off. there is darkness on the horizon but it is a challenging, rewarding darkness and when those clouds part, i believe we will find a light that never goes out.
or at least one that never shuts up. peace!