Monthly Archives: August 2012

Catching up: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Celeste and Jesse Forever, Bachelorette

Hey there, I’m back and, “I’ll take a small steak, two eggs on top, some fries, juice and a side order of toast.” I finally watched The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) after having it for nearly A MONTH from Netflix. I was glued to the screen and the film noir style, but I also found the movie to be very sad.  I can cross it off my Jack Nicholson list and as yet another top performance by him. I haven’t seen Jessica Lange in anything other than Tootsie, so it was also enjoyable to watch one of her roles and chemistry with Nicholson on screen.

Once you see the film, the title does make sense. You want the characters, Nicholson’s Frank and Lange’s Cora, to win out in the end but their past and secrets are never far behind. This 1981 caper is a remake of a classic film and based on a novel. Whichever medium you choose. although I am obviously partial to anything and everything Nicholson, I definitely recommend the film or book.
Moving on, I actually saw two other movies on my list yesterday. It was a rainy day, so why not?
It was tough to choose which one to see but Celeste and Jesse Forever may not be in theaters, well, forever so there I went. I hope it has a long release because just about every 30-something man or woman should see this film.
Rashida Jones (Celeste) and Andy Samberg (Jesse) star as a divorcing couple in their 30s who decide to stay friends during and beyond their separation. I was a fan of Jones before (see Parks and Recreation, I Love You Man and Our Idiot Brother), and now knowing she co-wrote this film appreciate her work even more. At first I thought Samberg was an odd choice and pairing for Jones’ character, but the two actors made their relationship and story very believable in this film.
That’s perhaps because the story from Jones and Will McCormack (the film’s other writer) came from someplace real. Jones and McCormack briefly dated in the 1990s and, while they were not married, tested the concept if ex-lovers can be friends for life.
The film starts at the beginning of Celeste and Jesse’s divorce. She owns a home and a car and is focused on her career as a “trend forecaster.” Jesse is living in the guest house/studio adjacent to Celeste’s and doesn’t have a job. The story portrays Jesse as still in love with Celeste, but there is definitely some co-dependence on both sides of their relationship. They both try to move on in their own ways but, several times, come back to each other before they can fully cut the cord of their marriage.
It’s by no means a funny story, but I am happy the filmmakers chose to tell it with comedy as the backdrop.
Speaking of comedy, my second choice yesterday was Bachelorette, starring Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan. It’s like Bridesmaids but, pun intended, on crack. Chelsea Handler interviewed Isla Fisher on her show last week and said everyone in the movie is a “hot mess.” That’s about right.
The movie is not in theaters yet, but you can buy it on iTunes or On Demand. The trio of Regan (Dunst), Katie (Fisher), and Gena (Caplan) are in the wedding party of their high school friend Becky (Rebel Wilson).
With their reunion the night before the wedding, it is evident the foursome’s friendship has not changed much since high school. They all have their own lives now but still harbor the angst from their teen years. Throw in an equal number of guys from their graduating class, a ruined wedding dress, drugs, alcohol and just the right combination of comedy and realism and, to me, Bachelorette is a must see.
I was happy to see some of the cast of the short-lived show Perfect Couples in the male half of the ensemble cast and Adam Scott and James Marsden alongside the ladies in the film.
Bachelorette caters more to a female audience than to men, but Celeste and Jesse Forever balances that out with a plot both sexes can relate to.
Viewing these two films in one day has maxed out my romantic comedy (although I don’t know that’s the best genre description here) quota for a while, but I am happy with my choices and recommend the indulgence.
To cap off the weekend Magic Mike is playing at the budget theater and some of my friends haven’t seen it yet. I GUESS I’ll have to go again.

Take This Waltz

I think in Take This Waltz writer and director Sarah Polley did somehow accomplish what she set out to do … making a film about emptiness and familiarity vs. passion … but it just missed the mark for me. I was actually a bit hesitant to watch this movie knowing the subject matter but I did want to give it a try because of the cast, including Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman. That didn’t do it for me either.
Williams plays Margot and Seth Rogen is her husband, Lou. Silverman is Geraldine, who I think is on Lou’s side of the family. Of all the characters Geraldine is the only one who provides a bit of honesty and realism about herself and the people around her and I did like Silverman’s performance.
There is also Luke Kirby who as Daniel brings to light what the characters, mainly Margot, think they’re lacking in life.
Daniel is introduced pretty early on in the film, but Polley also spends a good deal of time focusing on the relationship dynamic between Lou and Margot. That focus continues to build throughout the film, but I found the message about their relationship to be inconsistent. Overall, because of Margot’s interest in Daniel, I thought it would be that she is clearly the only one unhappy in her marriage to Lou . Sometimes that’s the case and she is the bad guy of the two, other times it’s Lou and then at times they both seem in love and happy — but definitely in their own way. Their inside jokes and habits around the house are charming, but I did have a hard time believing it all.
That is actually the main problem I had with this film. If you’re going to tell a story that clearly comes from some level of realism and experience, I find that it has to be believable and as a viewer I want to relate to it on some level.
Yes, it’s a movie and not actually real, but since Take This Waltz was very stripped down in the way of focusing so heavily on characters’ emotions I thought I would be drawn it a bit more and be able to understand where they’re coming from. I am normally a fan of Williams and Rogen, but I think in the end they were not right for these roles. It seemed like they were trying too hard, even though Williams mastered the role of a somewhat similar character in Blue Valentine. (See that one, for sure).
Acting aside, I think another important flaw here is the buried message of the film. The contrast between familiarity and passion can be seen in Margot and Lou, but I don’t like how Polley avoids having them outwardly acknowledging their problems. I think it’s clear to Lou that Margot is interested in Daniel, but he doesn’t acknowledge that either. Are they too familiar with each other to care? What does Margot want? Lou, Daniel, or to be alone? The film presents all those questions, but no clear answer.
Of course those answers would be subjective for each viewer, but Polley did not create enough connection with the characters in the film for me to get there.
I enjoyed the cinematography, music and style of the film as well as the overall idea of what the story could be, but all the chapters just did not come together.