A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 610 – A Clockwork Orange

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October 31, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | Leave a comment

A Clockwork Orange

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October 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movie 609 – The Crow

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October 30, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | Leave a comment

The Crow

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October 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movie 608 – Diary of a Mad Black Woman

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October 29, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | Leave a comment

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)

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October 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movie 607 – Contact

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October 28, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | Leave a comment

Contact

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October 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movie 606 – Closer

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October 27, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | Leave a comment

Closer

October 27, 2011

Closer

As we approach the end of our movie a day project Amanda and I find that we have a number of films left over that don’t make for light watching of a weekday afternoon. Films of a more weighty nature that we haven’t had the fortitude to venture upon. Some of them are movies like yesterday’s and today’s which I have seen before, but which do not really fit with the more fantasy and sci-fi themed feel of the vast majority of our collection.

I cannot for the life of me remember why I bought this movie. It is in no way at all like the kind of movie that I would normally buy. It’s a kind of meditation on romances going bad. Cheating, sex, lies. I suppose it was the cast that attracted me to the movie. As often happens I bought it sight unseen, and it’s just kind of been here our apartment gathering dust since I first watched it. Not because it is a bad movie but because it is a little bit depressing and not something I’d really want to subject myself to on a regular basis.

The movie revolves around four people as they meet, fall in love with each other, hurt each other and leave each other. It starts with a young girl who calls herself Alice getting hit by a car while exchanging glances with a dashing young writer named Dan. He falls for her undeniable waifish charm and she falls for his repressed British loneliness. He writes a book inspired by her, but when he goes to get photographed for the cover he ends up for no reason falling completely in love with the photographer – a woman named Anna. Maybe it’s that Anna is more mature and Alice is too needy. He seems to think that there’s some connection between himself and Anna, and she seems to feel something too. Mostly, though, it’s that Dan is a complete jerk. (That’s one of the themes of the movie, really.)

When Anna refuses to see Dan (because she knows he’s seeing Alice) he plays a bitter prank on a random stranger he encounters through the internet – masquerading as Alice and seducing a horny doctor named Larry into a meeting with her. The prank somewhat backfires when Larry turns out to be a pretty descent guy. He’s a pervert, sure, but he ‘fesses up to it, and he has genuine feelings for Anna. So Larry and Anna start seeing each other, Dan is still going out with Alice, but he’s pining for Anna at the same time.

From there things get complicated. There are off-screen clandestine meetings, infidelity, marriage, break-ups, divorce papers, and lots of general angst. Dan is a self-centered jerk who wants to have his cake (a tender relationship with Alice) and eat it too (his affair with Anna.) Larry wields his larger than life sexuality like a weapon, but at the same time is completely open and honest with Anna. Anna wallows in guilt and self loathing and seems almost to enjoy it. And Alice? Alice is pretty much the most sympathetic character in the film – she seems innocent and needy, but in reality is the strongest of the bunch and the most independent. Maybe it’s that she’s better than any of the other characters at protecting herself from lies. She does have a special kind of armor that protects her, as we find out at the end of the film.

This film has some spectacular performances. It requires a degree of intensity since it is pretty much just a simple character study with only four speaking roles (well except the cabbie and the customs man who have one line each.) Natalie Portman and Clive Owen each won Golden Globes for their portrayals of Alice and Larry respectively. Jude Law is heart breaking as the two-timing Dan who can’t seem to get what he wants because he can’t admit to himself that he doesn’t deserve what he wants. Julia Roberts as Anna is similarly broken – it’s hard to figure out if her character is simply easily manipulated or if she truly wants what she gets in the movie.

What really stands out for me in this film though is the writing. It has a strong “adapted from the stage” vibe to it – because it is adapted from a stage production. It’s full of strong characters caught up in their own warring desires and lies. Patrick Marber’s adaptation of his own screenplay is powerful, brutal and savage. People hurt each other in this movie – a lot – which is why I’ve found it so hard to watch again after that first viewing when I bought it six years ago.

he other thing I found fascinating about this movie is the way it handles the act breaks. The events of the film take place over the course of about four years, but it leaps forward in jumps of about six months without warning between acts. It’s a little disorienting because you pick up with the same characters in a new scene and they reveal through the dialog that a huge amount of time has passed in what appeared to be just a cut to a new location, and you have to infer from the action what has passed in the missing months. It creates a sense of mental whiplash but it also acted to keep me engaged in the production because I enjoy having to use my brain and this film challenges you constantly to figure out what is going on and what you have missed.

This movie acts as a pretty good companion piece to Ghost World, which we watched yesterday. Both are films about people doing brutal emotional damage to each other. I’d argue that this movie is less depressing though. After reading the trivia about the ending of the movie and how Marber altered it for the film I have to say that I’m really glad he did make that change, because otherwise this movie would be a lot harder to watch. As it is, although I respect this movie for the writing and the performances and for the strange way it is put together, I suspect I probably won’t watch it again for at least another six years now. It’s just too difficult to get engaged in the lives and loves of characters knowing how much they’re all going to be hurt.

October 27, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment