Tag Archives: Owen Wilson

She’s Funny That Way

If it walks like a Woody Allen movie and quacks like a Woody Allen movie, then why the hell is Peter Bogdanovich credited as the director? This movie genuinely felt like an Allen ripoff – the pacing, the dialogue, the screwball neuroses, the setting, hell, even the casting – I could never shake the feeling that someone was pulling a fast one on me.

A Broadway director (Owen Wilson) spends a night with a call-girl (Imogen Poots), and 21tips her $30K to quit whoring and change her life. He doesn’t expect her to wind up at auditions for his play the next day, but there she is, which makes things awkward because a) his wife (Kathryn Hahn) is the star and b) her co-star and secret admirer (Rhys Ifans) knows the director’s dirty secret and c) the oblivious playwright (Will Forte) is falling a bit in love with her, despite already being in a relationship with the former call-girl’s therapist (Jennifer Aniston). Got all that?

There are roughly a hundred more connections and complications I’m leaving out, simply because I’ll use up my bracket allowance way too quickly, but there are recognizable names even filling the minor roles in this thing. The script and the laughs are hit and miss, and the whole thing actually feels a bit anachronistic. In fact, the movie may have been in production for 20 years or more – Bogdanovich and his wife were still married when they wrote it, and they pictured John Ritter, Tatum O’Neal and Cybill Shepherd in the lead roles (two of those actually do appear in the film) (Oh shit I just used more brackets. Damn it, Jay!).

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She’s Funny That Way is sporting a painful 39% on the old tomatometer (for context: Batman V. Superman is boasting a 29%) but the truth is, this movie did something for me. It may have been – and this surprises me as much as anyone – mostly thanks to Jennifer Aniston. She plays the world’s worst, most indiscreet, self-involved therapist, and since that happens to be my line of work, it may have been slightly cathartic to watch her do and say all the things I spend my days and weeks and life holding back. For that reason alone I recommend Matt, my valued colleague, to watch this movie stat. Aniston lets loose with shesfunnythatwayepkfilmclipthatsjustwhatimeanth264hd000470012022her performance; she’s the one to watch in this, and she’s the one who took me by surprise, and my laugh-spit sure took Sean by surprise (although Poots is also quite good, I can just never say her name with a straight face) (oh feck, more brackets). It’s not gonna be everyone’s cuppa, but while I started out this review calling this a Woody-wannabe, the truth is, I probably haven’t enjoyed an Allen film this much in years.

 

Zoolander 2

Zoolander 2 is really, really, ridiculously dull. There was so little going on all I could really do was wonder why this movie got made and why so many recognizable faces pop up.  The only answer I came up with was that no one involved had anything better to do. Well, I had better things to do – I could have been watching Deadpool!

There really isn’t a good reason to watch Zoolander 2. The “good” moments are rehashes of the original, and the rest seems like stuff they cut from the original (and rightly so). We get it, the fashion industry is vapid and empty, but you can’t satirize it with a movie that’s even more vapid and empty, because then the joke is on the movie. And the joke is definitely on the movie here. Even Justin Bieber should have known better than to be involved with this mess.

I honestly can’t think of one moment in the movie that I liked, and this is coming from a guy who laughed from start to finish during both Daddy’s Home and Dirty Grandpa. The original Zoolander was another movie that consistently made me laugh, but the sequel comes up woefully short. It’s old and tired, and made me feel the same way. Zoolander 2 gets a score of two glasses of prune juice out of ten.

Adopted/Foster Familes

TMP

I don’t have much to contribute for Thursday Movie Picks this week and- in two out of my three picks- adopted/foster familes are mostly incidental to the movies as a whole.

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The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)– This is really the story of one big unhappy family where only one of the kids (Gwyneth Paltrow) is adopted. According to narrator Alec Baldwin, “Royal always noted this when introducing her (‘This is our adopted daughter Margot’)”. The family dynamics get even more complicated when Margot and her adopted brother Richie (Luke Wilson) fall in love, which is either illegal or just frowned upon. Possibly his most ambitious film to date, this is still my favourite Wes Anderson movie and he and co-writer Owen Wilson manage all the chaos like the pros that they are.

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)– I felt so guilty that I couldn’t find room for The Darjeeling Limited when we did Trains a couple of weeks ago that I opened up two slots for him this week. Ranking a close second to Tenenbaums in the Wes Canon, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of a troubled young Khaki scout (Jared Gilman) who causes so much trouble with his foster family that they “can’t invite him back”. On the run from his troop and the dreaded Social Services (Tilda Swinton), our hero bonds with a sad dumb policeman (Bruce Willis) who is willing to adopt him so that he can be with his true love (Kara Hayward).

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Philomena (2013)– Not written by Wes Anderson, this adoption story doesn’t end happily. Director Stephen Frears and writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope do a brilliant job with the true story of Philomena Lee and her journey to reunite with the son that she was forced to put up for adoption by the Catholic Church 50 years ago. It’s a sad story but Frears, Coogan, and Pope give it a light touch, focusing on the chemistry between Lee (Judi Dench) and journalist Martin Sixsmith (Coogan). It’s less of an angry story about unquestionable injustice and more about one woman’s faith and resilience.

No Escape\No Surrender

No Escape: Owen Wilson plays a father who is sent overseas to an unnamed Asian country (the “fourth-world according to fake-wife Lake Bell) to help build their waterworks. Of course, his 75family’s arrival coincides terribly with a coup within this country, and an uprising of the people, particularly against foreigners who have taken over – you got it, their waterworks. So Owen Wilson has to call on reserves of badassery he didn’t know he had to get his wife and two daughters to safety. And he fails. So thank god for Pierce Brosnan who saves his ass a number of times, but sadly, not innumerably. There is a limit, and it will keep you on the edge of you god damned seat. Actually, that’s the one thing this movie does really, really well: it’s 98% adrenaline rush. The tension is taut, relentless, masterful. There’s only about 1m30s where you breathe comfortably, and that’s only because you know a bad thing is coming and you can just kind of be zen about it.

Sean didn’t really care for it. This might be a knock on Owen Wilson’s manhood (try not to picture me knocking on his semi-erect penis), but Sean just didn’t think this guy was up to the task. He also didn’t think the situation was believable in the first place – that a group of Americans would just be left to fend for themselves, and that IF they were, for some odd reason, that Owen Wilson of all people could keep anyone alive for more than maybe 5 minutes or so. no-escape-pierce-brosnan-owen-wilson-slice-600x200And given some of the choices this guy makes, I have to agree. I was also annoyed by the kids. The truth is, as actors they were pretty impressive. But I find kids in these kinds of thrillers to just be god-awful. They’re always making noise when they shouldn’t, defying direct orders, coming out of hiding places, squawking, refusing to do what’s necessary, complaining about having to go potty, or that they’re hungry, or that their favourite doll got left behind. And if you’ve got a wife who’s kind of whiny too, it’s not long before I’m yelling at the screen: “Leave them behind! You can start a new family later! Second spouses are the best!” And once I start yelling that kind of shit at the screen, game over.

An interesting tidbit: Ruth at Flix Chatter wrote a really interesting piece on the Dowdle brothers, who happen to be the writers\director of this film. She always does a great job, but this interview really caught my eye and if you have any interest at all, I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

We saw this movie at the drive-in, and as always, it’s a double bill. Truth time: the title is a lie. The second movie was actually Self\less, and it was worst than the first. And not just because the hicks in the car beside us, windows rolled down so we could hear them puzzle out each scene incorrectly, spoiled the whole thing by not understanding it in the least but loudly offering their idiotic theories.

Self\less is about a wealthy business magnate played by Ben Kingsley, who is on his deathbed when he gets an ashow_filenonymous tip: there may be a way out of this death thing. Turns out, if you are brilliant enough and have several hundreds of millions of dollars (let’s dwell on that for a bit: Several. HUNDREDS. Of millions. Of dollars.), you can pay this mad scientist to fake your death and transplant your “self” into a healthy young body grow in a lab. This scientist is just so selfless himself, apart from the payday, that he doesn’t want to deprive the world of the most elite idea makers. The catch? No one can know. You say goodbye to your whole life and live as this other person. So, in effect, the plot has already shot itself in the foot because when Ben Kingsley wakes up in Ryan Reynolds’ body, he can’t just walk back to the Kingsley empire and untitledhelm the ship. Kingsley is dead to the world, and Reynolds is a nobody who is frankly ready for retirement, except for getting a few quick pieces of hot ass (and who can blame him?) The other catch? (C’mon, there’s ALWAYS another catch!): a lifetime of pills. The pills keep Ryan Reynolds at bay. Because the scientist lied. This isn’t some body grown in lab, it’s a murdered man whose “self” keeps surfacing, with flashbacks of his life, wife, and daughter. Awkward!

This movie is interesting in theory but decides to spit on the philosophical implications and just go for cheap thrills and action instead.

Midnight in Paris

Establishing shots at the beginning of the film are divine, and if I wasn’t in Paris already, I’d be booking my flight! Funny how the toast of Manhattan, consummate New Yorker Woody Allen, now seems to be smitten with Paris. Is the City of Light his new inspiration?

Owen Wilson is quite taken with Paris in the 1920s.  He’s a writer who’s spent years grinding out Midnight in Paris (2011)scripts in Hollywood (successfully, it seems) but wishes he’d had the guts to write novels in Paris instead. He’s visiting the city with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams), who’s had enough (“If I never see another charming boulevard or bistro -) but he’s still bubbling with anecdotes of Monet and Hemingway and their fruitful time lost in their art. While he’s out chasing the ghost of Joyce down cobbled streets, the clock strikes midnight and an old Peugeot drives up, full of merry-makers. Turns out – spoiler alert – that it’s Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

We never know whether this is magic or mental health, but he now possesses the ability to slipparis3 back to his favourite time period, 20s era Paris, and he gets invited into Gertrude Stein’s (Kathy Bates) famous salon. Bates is lovely but I have to say, Wilson’s earnestness is what really sells this piece. He’s wide-eyed and worshipful of his heroes. It’s major wish-fulfillment and it’s fun to see all these giants come to life.

parismarionRachel McAdams starts to get annoyed that he disappears every night, but how can he resist? Hemingway himself has offered to edit his work! Woody Allen’s script sings with treasures for book-lovers, and in this film, I can combine with my love of literature AND film (AND Paris, incidentally). Owen Wilson is just as bowled over – particularly when he comes across a beautiful muse (and mistress) to many famous artists (Marion Cotillard), but what a conflict between his actual fiancée in the present tense, and the people who get him but may just be figments of his fertile imagination.

This movie is not for everyone and that’s okay. And it’s not just about being well-read. You just either feel the charm or you don’t. Allen sprinkles the scrip liberally with treats that add up to a veritable feast (a moveable feast?) – you get the sense that he must have had fun writing this, which is perhaps why he won the Oscar for Best Orignal Screenplay (though he never attends to pick up his statuettes). If any of the above has sounded interesting, or if you just need another excuse to fall in love with the City of Possibility, then put this on your list.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Full disclosure: I am Wes Anderson’s twin sister, and thus, incapable of impartial movie reviews.

Fuller disclosure: That was a bold lie. I’m just an uber-fan, but upon reflection I don’t want to accuse myself of impartiality. Yes, I love his movies fervently, I wish to live in them, but my esteem is earned. Wes Anderson never takes a night off. He earns it every time.

I was going to watch something new, and maybe I was going to like it, but this little delicacy presented itself as an alternative, and therefore it was the only alternative.

budapestWes Anderson introduces us to Gustave H, a legendary and well-perfumed concierge at the famous Grand Budapest Hotel, and Zero Moustafa, the humble lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft (and recovery) of an invaluable painting and the battle over a will and a vast family fortune.

Immediately Anderson’s aesthetic draws you into this world, the colour palette is sumptuous and alive, and it’s like stepping into someone’s well-appointed dream. As always, the details are meticulously executed: the hotel’s shabbiness, the gritty grout, the choice of fonts, the embroidery, the mustaches, both real and drawn-on, the crest worn by Edward Norton and his army men of a little fox head greatly resembling a certain Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The movie is shot with three different aspect rations to help the audience differentiate between the time periods. The adventure is rapid-fire and the dialogue is virtually spat out.  In fact, the rapid gunfire of dialogue is a problem when viewing the movie in a theatre: the laughs are so close together it’s sometimes hard to hear whatever comes next.

The characteres are vividly drawn and always so much fun to get to know – in this case, Ralph Main Quad_AW_[26611] Grand BudapestFiennes plays a character playing a character who makes pretension feel absolutely charming. Tilda Swinton makes a grand dame indeed in her voluminous old age spots, old lady lipstick, and ridiculously piled hair. There are actually so many stars jam-packed into this movie that I’ll never be able to name-check them all. The enjoyable thing is that these cameos rarely (if ever) feel forced, instead it’s intoxicating and energizing.

It’s a caper-y type film and the plot covers a lot more ground than most of Wes Anderson’s films. But the crime is nestled within a sumptuous frame work and the whole film eats like one of Mendl’s delicious little cakes that are turned our so perfectly that Saoirise Ronan, who plays Agatha, said that making those little pastries convincingly was by far the hardest stunt she’s performed in any movie.

I’d like to say that this is possibly Wes Anderson’s best movie to date, but I feel that such an assertion would be a betray of sorts, like choosing my favourite among my dogs (which reminds me – great little Anderson in-joke moment: after killing a dog in nearly every other movie, Anderson finally sticks it to a cat in a manner so abrupt and cruel it can’t help but get a big, suprised laugh). It’s hard to find a movie that’s this entertaining, this varied and layered, and even if you watch it as a George Clooney edition of Where’s Waldo, you can’t go wrong.

 

Stay tuned for more Wes Anderson reviews – I won’t be able to resist.