07 June 2008

Rom Coms

I found this interesting... http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/movies/09roma.html

*pause* while you read...I'll wait....

As I think about my favorite "rom-coms" as the industry apparently refers to them *wretch* It occurs to me that there are two common denominators when considering great movies in this category: ensemble casts/multi-storylines (Hello? Love Actually!) and the 90-minute format. Many movies shouldn't or can't be squashed/edited/rushed into that quick little time frame. Yet many are. Thank you, short-attention-span America.

But in our fast food, disposable mindset, everything has to be done in sound bites. A lot of content is lost in the editing; a lot of little detail that adds to the feeling of the entire movie is cut for time. Many movies could be great (or just simply, better) with just a little more character or plot development. But with our short-attention span and the monster that is the movie industry, this seems no longer possible.

Sadly, I am one that will watch the same movie over and over, especially the movies with good soundtracks. There's something about my ADD brain that allows this. (The Mad Genius is guilty of this as well.) I have noticed that with multiple viewings, I often catch things - sometimes just nuances - that I missed in the original viewing. Things that suddenly click the plot into place for me. Or little assumptions that I make...have you caught the chemistry between two sub-characters and make assumptions? (The Lake House - Keanu's "assistant" and Sandra's boyfriend. I bet they hooked up later)

Or I focus not on the main character and find details that I previously missed: an expression, a gesture, a little subplot move that blends everything together with a little more clarity. I have also noticed details that I have previously missed now that television screens are increasing. I’ll never forget watching an episode of Mad About You and noticing that we had the same area rug! I hadn’t caught that on a smaller screened television!

Also, as Swistle has pointed out in previous conversations: much like books, some movies take mulling over and even a second watch. Also, no longer easily done. Movies are too expensive to go to the theatre twice. There are also so many movies to watch and not enough time. We just don’t have time for that kind of movie watching anymore. And the movie industry doesn’t allow for it. It’s sad really.

For instance, I wasn't wild about Stranger than Fiction at first but it took up residence in my brain and now I love it. It wasn't labeled a romantic comedy but it surely was. This brings up another problem: sometimes movies are sorely mislabeled.

Or there are so many genres contained within one film, how do you possible label it? "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is a perfect example. Comedy? Yes. Romance? Yes. Action? Yes.

I think Hollywood needs to work on refining their definitions or maybe even let go of them entirely. Wouldn’t that make for some fun Oscar nominations?

Perhaps a wedge that needs to be driven between categories. There's chick flick, there's romantic comedies and then there's romance. Devil Wears Prada = Chick Flick, When Harry Met Sally = Romantic Comedy and Moulin Rouge = Romance.

Knocked Up and 40-Year-Old Virgin are NOT romantic comedies for the love of Nora Ephron! They're "American Pie" for grown-ups. And I SOOOOOOOOO didn't see how Knocked Up was "Hilarious!" as proclaimed by oh, everyone.

Katherine Hiegl was more enjoyable in The Ringer with Johnny Knoxville. (SO non-PC and had some pretty freaking funny moments) Oh, I’m off topic…big surprise.

So many times, I’ve watched a movie and thought, “This isn’t a comedy.”
Most recently, I watched “Lucky You” with Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana. I remember it being marketed as a romantic comedy. It So Wasn’t! It was actually more of guy movie.
Little Black Book” was also marketed at as romantic comedy. But it was actually a little dark and had a social commentary on privacy, the media, and the public’s avarice for “infotainment”.

To return to a previous point: All of these movies aren’t easily categorized as well. Sure, there’s romance in all, there’s comedy in all but there is also drama. It’s as if there needs to be an entire new category. “Dramedy” has been bounced around a bit. I think I can work with dramedy.

To add to the mix, there is a mindset that actors can’t act out of their range. Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction – PERFECT. Adam Sandler in Reign on Me – PERFECT. Jim Carrey in The Majestic. (more on him in a minute)

Remember when there were only a handful of movies to watch in the theatre and they were in there for forever, it seemed. I think movies were given a better shake during that time and in relation, the movies HAD to be better. There was only one theatre in town and two movies. They had to stand the test of time. There’s a line in the movie “The Holiday” where the elderly former movie writer exclaims in disgust “Nine movies out in one weekend! And this is conducive to great film making!?!”
Yeah, what he said.

While I'm on a rant here, box office isn't the end all/be all of tallies anymore. DVD rentals/purchases and Pay-per-View or On Demand movies have sometimes completely different results than the original box office. (Better off Dead & Princess Bride are two notable examples although I am sure there are more recent examples) Which kind of makes some of my points moot but only a little.

Personally, I hate, hate, hate going to the movie theatre. People are rude. Drinks & treats are expensive, tickets are expensive. They rarely feel clean. And it’s too freaking loud. Explain to me, in the age of NetFlix and plasma televisions, why a person would go to the theatre? I don’t get it.

About a year ago, the New York Times had an article on Boutique Theatres. It was a small venue, set up for 30-50 people with comfy seating, adult beverages and appetizers. If I remember correctly, there was a need for reservations. THAT is my kind of movie theatre! Of course, it was horribly expensive but I could justify that expense.

In the movie The Majestic- a totally underrated movie - the lead character whose name I’ve forgotten mentions that going to the theatre used to be an EVENT. It was a treat. People dressed up. Now people talk, answer cell phones, eat, and behave as if there aren’t 150 other people in the room with them. This is where I love the idea of boutique theatres.

However, I like movies no one likes. Perhaps it’s that I always root for the underdog.

I loved:

The Majestic with Jim Carrey. It has a nostalgic, dreamy feel to it. People couldn’t wrap their minds about Jim Carrey not being Ace Ventura and that’s really sad. My mom grew up in that area and in that era.

Elizabethtown with Orlando Bloom & Kirsten Dunst. There’s so much going on in that movie and the soundtrack is Amazing…and it actually becomes a character in the movie.

Catch & Release was good – not great - although I think they miscast the male lead. LOVE the music in it too. Multiple storylines, always my fave. Juliet Lewis has one scene that breaks my heart every time I see it. Kevin Smith and Jennifer Gardner are the stars.

Jersey Girl with Ben Affleck & Liv Tyler. (another miscast: Jennifer Lopez. She sunk the movie before it even got out of editing) Great cameo by Will Smith. George Carlin ROCKED and "Gertie" was played by the most beautiful little girl I have ever seen. But then, I love Kevin Smith. (See Catch & Release) Sweeney Todd is featured before Johnny Depp made it mainstream.

Return to Me with Minnie Driver and David Duchovony.... heart-wrenching (excuse the pun. You'll understand if you've seen it) Even D - my cynical, dark movie watcher & David Duchovany-hater LOVED that movie. Carroll O’Connor’s last film role. Bonnie Hunt and Jim Belushi. It’s nearly perfect.

Someone wrote once that "An Affair to Remember" could never be duplicated. I totally agree. I like watching it back-to-back with Sleepless in Seattle during the holidays. Random, renegade thought…not relevant to anything previously written.

And to add to the "You will NEVER top this movie, don't even try" category: Even over "An Affair to Remember" is "The Philadelphia Story" with Cary Grant, James Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn. Their dialogue and chemistry stands the test of today’s humor and intellect. “Yes, she was yar…

While I’m on a rant here: What I really, really, don’t understand is how Quentin Tarantino has a career. I am really not a fan of violence. I believe there is way too much of it in real life to glorify it on the screen. And it pisses me off that people don’t acknowledge the correlation of violence in movies, games, music to violence in real life. I just read a quote from QT that said, “People either love or hate my movies.” Um………DUH. I just see no redeemable qualities from his movies and now, in him.

Even I can accept the dark weirdness that is Tim Burton. Here is a guy that must have actually lived in the Munsters home as a child. He’s dark, he’s quirky but on the whole, he’s not destructive. Well, Sweeny Todd…maybe a little destructive. Not glorified destructive.

Meanwhile, the NYT article mentions many movies as reference:

"My Best Friends Wedding" was good but not one my faves, even with our boyfriend Dermot Mulroney. It surprised me that it did well. I don't remember that.

Diane Lane & our true love John Cusack had little chemistry in "Must Love Dogs". I'm trying to think who would be better? Naomi Watts perhaps? She's in my mind because I watched The Painted Veil last weekend. Arduous but good. Not a happy ending, you've been warned. But there's resolution so it's redeemable.

The Nanny Diaries I haven't seen. Scarlet Johansen is an acquired taste, I think. Perhaps that's what sunk it. She lost me when she began working with Woody Allen (*cough* pedophile *ahem*) It struck me as a Chick-Flick and not a romantic comedy.

The best romantic comedy, in my humble opinion, is The Princess Bride. I have watched it hundreds of times and can recite the lines…not just the “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die.” that everyone knows.

It has Robin Wright before she was anybody, Cary Elwes…swoon… Rob Reiner, whom I could watch direct Sesame Street and I would be happy. Soundtrack by Mark Knopfler.
Simply cannot be improved.

So, jeez on crackers, this has been a long rambling post. Movies: one of my all-time favorite things. Don’t get me started again…Although I am sure there are movies that I’ve forgotten that I’ll head-slap myself as soon as I click “Post”.

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves…….


Swistle said...

I definitely think we need better categories. Each movie could have a long string of icons after the title: an icon for "gross-out" (can be applied to comedies, horrors, dramas, etc.), and icon for "juvenile bathroom humor," an icon for "funny but in a sad way." WE HAVE TO DO THESE ICONS. ...No, someone else has to.

Firegirl said...

Hmmm, must think...
Kind of like the MTV Awards. They have more realistic award categories.

I definitely think Gross Out Humor category could be used.

I think a "This will screw with your head for days" category would be appropriate as well.