Sunday, April 18, 2010

Young Victoria and Crazy Heart - Weekend Movie Roundup

The DVD choices this weekend were definitely a study in contrasts with "Young Victoria" a PG movie with G rated tendencies and "Crazy Heart" about a washed up country singer whose life has went the way of the most depressing country songs.

Emily Blunt does a decent and admirable job as the young future Queen of England. The movie mostly covers her teen years when she bore the burden of being the only heir and was in essence a living chess piece in a political game between those jockeying to be the power behind the throne. Maybe I have been too influenced by "The Tudors" and the Elizabeth movies because despite their manipulations, even the worst characters in "Young Victoria" are so subdued as to be, let's see, Victorian. There is a sort of two word explanation - constitutional monarchy. Unlike some of her predecessors Victoria (to my dismay) does not have the power to even once imprison or execute anyone. That along with there not even being a hint of behind the scene dalliances (a nice way of saying sex) made this a blah experience at times.

"Crazy Heart" had a lot of hype to live up to with all of the praise during the awards season and Jeff Bridges best actor Oscar win. Bridges plays the aptly named Bad Blake who despite a promising country music career is close to hitting rock bottom when the movie opens. He plays gigs in bowling alleys, drinks non stop and probably wakes up most mornings next to an aging groupie he does not even remember. Bridges flawlessly abandons vanity and lets his body show every indignity this type of lifestyle would bring to someone his age. The movie charts his doomed relationship with Jean, a journalist played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, and an eventual rise back to professional success and sobriety. I am a huge fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal but in this role I wonder what direction she was given or personal choices she was making, Her character is so vague that at the end of the movie, I could not have really have explained why she became involved with Bad so quickly or why she doesn't give him a second chance. My most pointed criticism is for a last minute ploy that is supposed to drive home that Bad does not have many chances left. This comes in the form of him loosing Jean's young son in a public place. It's done in a clumsy and not very realistic way that smacks of "after school special" and is totally unneeded. We got the "he's an alcoholic" point the first three times he threw up in a trash can or toilet. My verdict is that Jeff Bridges was incredible at what he did but the movie itself was flawed by formula plotting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The House of Yes

Seeing "Happy Tears" recently gave me pause to think about my trajectory as a Parker Posey fan which began in the mid 90's with "Party Girl". Unfortunately the indie cult status of "Party Girl" means it has a very very very long wait on They might as well admit that it will never ship. However today "The House of Yes" arrived in the mail. This is a brilliant, wicked film that might suffer from the accusation of being pretentious with it's over indulged, privileged characters and lightning fast witty dialogue. The story is that Marty Pascel (Josh Hamilton) has made the unbelievable blunder of bringing his mousey girlfriend (Tori Spelling) home to meet his wealthy, dysfunctional family on the very night they will all be virtually trapped together by a hurricane. The driving force of the family and the movie as a whole is Parker Posey as Marty's sister, Jackie-O. She in step with the weather outside is pretty much an evil, brilliant, psychotic (with the pills to prove it) bitch in a little black dress. An unhealthy obsession with Jackie Onassis and Marty are icing on the cake. Worse yet for the poor girlfriend, once back in the fold, Marty does very little to discourage Jackie-O and ultimately joins in her twisted games. Nothing ends well here unless you see the world through Jackie-O's eyes that is.
If your experience with Parker Posey is one of "You've Got Mail" and "Scream 3" or worse yet "Superman Returns", I suggest taking a trip back to the 90's to see how she earned the title queen of the indies.