Tag Archives: Rachel McAdams

The Vow

Oh The Vow. I see that you want to crawl up inside my vagina, manipulate my lady hormones, and convince me to buy movie tickets and packets of kleenex and ample ice cream, and quite possibly those handbags that the camera keeps inexplicably dwelling on. You’re a cheap ploy in romance clothing, but I’ve got your number.

The Vow thinks having two attractive leads is enough for you to believe in their love. He looks good, she looks good, what more could they want? The movie sets the bar low for itself but still  manages to tumble far, far beneath it.

Item #1: When she is sick, he leaves her a box of ‘get well’ goodies, containing, and I can hardly believe I’m about to write this: lingerie. Which is a subtle way of saying: I think you’re gross right now, but I look forward to fucking you again in the future when you’re useful to me again. He does not hand her this box, merely leaves her to discover it while he waits a plate-glass away. Not only is that unromantic, it’s completely misguided and for me, would be an automatic break-up. You know what’s romantic? Risking her germs to actually be present when she’s sick. Letting her know that you love her whether you currently find her fuckable or not. Loving her whether she’s currently well enough to blow you or not. Loving her enough to be in the same room as her in sickness and in health. THAT’S romantic. Or, you know, basic human decency.

Item #2: When he farts in the car, she rolls up the window. Okay, I’m gagging right MV5BMjI4NTQ4MDIxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTAzNDUzNw@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_now because yes, that’s played as romantic in this twisted little shit of a movie, when in fact that’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen on film, and I’ve seen Matthew McConaughey receive some poultry-related fellatio, so keep that in mind. Hot boxing farts is romantic? No. Holding it in until you’re in a bathroom is romantic. Sticking to turkey at Thanksgiving to avoid ham farts on the car ride home later (sorry for outing you, Sean) is romantic. Or, you know, basic human decency.

The Vow, because if you don’t already know it, it’s probably not apparent, is about a couple, Paige (Rachel McAdams) and Leo (Channing Tatum), who fall in love because every thing they do is just so damned romantic. Except for the car crash that nearly kills them, and leaves her without a memory. Or, at least, without a memory of him, their entire relationship just wiped out. The doctors seem to agree that this is a thing that can happen even though I suspect she’s just tired of his constant need to come up with new ways to plausibly be shirtless. But anyway. He’s still deeply in love with his wife, but his wife thinks he’s no better than a stranger. So she elects to go home with her parents instead since she doesn’t remember they’re estranged, and they’re pretty eager to pretend they’re not (Jessica Lange and Sam Neill are the sole touch of class to this movie and are completely, egregiously wasted – the movie would be vastly improved by writing out Tatum and McAdams completely and focusing on the talented, veteran actors instead. Alas.).

So: does he try to win her back, or does he do the kind thing and let her go? His friends are of two minds: a) she doesn’t remember all the stupid shit he’s done, like the car farts b) can he really get her to fall in love with him again? Paige has reverted to some juvenile or naive former version of herself and doesn’t seem willing to give him the time of day (in fact, has her eye on an old boyfriend, the smug Bradley Cooper type who is apparently played by Scott Speedman when production runs out of money). And stupid Leo’s ONE movie consists of an expensive box of chocolates that I don’t know how they afford because she’s an artist and he owns a recording studio which means they’re basically unemployed and broke AF, and a guessing game that even Forrest Gump would have found immature.

What happens in the movie doesn’t matter because it’s boring and predictable and full of shit. Even the real life people upon whom the story is based don’t like it because the film erases their Christianity, and Rachel McAdams says fuck. And I don’t like it because it preys upon the lonely, romantic saps who just want to believe in true love, and then feed them a barrel full of horse manure and label it truffles. Baloney.

However, I have enjoyed taunting Sean about whether or not he could win me over in the case of amnesia. I mean, what if I woke up with standards? Hopefully we’ll never know. And hopefully it doesn’t take head trauma for you to realize that flatulence should never be part of courtship. Hopefully we’re all living better lives than the doomed couple in this movie – this is the kind of “romantic” movie that causes single people to gloat and everyone else hang their heads real low.

 

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Disobedience

Ronit and Esti were childhood friends and young lovers but their Orthodox community forced them apart and Ronit left in disgrace and scandal, shunned by her Rabbi father. Years later, she returns upon his death and finds that her mere presence sets tongues wagging and old rumours flying. Esti is still there and has forged herself a new life within the boundaries of her religion. She is married to a mutual (male) friend and it isn’t terrible.

Old passions are reignited between Ronit (Rachel Weisz), who lives as a photographer in NYC, and Esti (Rachel McAdams), who wears a wig to cover her hair and has careful, kosher sex with her husband every Shabbat. But as good and devout MV5BN2U1ZjllMWQtYzBlOC00ZGQyLTg0YTUtNWQ3YmI3ZjYwNmIzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_as Esti’s present life is, even the memories of her past with Ronit are scorching enough to make everyone nervous. In their community, straight marriage is the only option, and it’s not so much an option as an obligation. Esti stayed, and conformed; Ronit left, and flourished, though she has all but abandoned her faith.

Disobedience isn’t graphic or specific of pointed. It goes about things in a rounder, softer way, nuzzling up to the subject and laying at its feet. This movie gives you two Rachels for the price of one, and they keep things on simmer for a really long time. On screen like they’re magnets; there’s an electric current between them that’s full of little zaps but no big surges. I really liked Weisz’s choices in particular, how she subtly plays with her hair, reminding us that hers is on display while Esti must cover hers up. And how the uncovering of hair then becomes an act of intimacy, a form of foreplay, a zap in the movie’s current. It’s not just sexual repression that bubbles over in Disobedience; religion and culture are enmeshed in this story. And while the cast does an admirable job of making this feel true, I’m not sure this is director Sebastián Lelio’s story to tell.

Weisz and McAdams communicate a lot through glances and silence. Lelio’s interpretation is a little literal for my taste, but the women here elevate the material and make it something special.

 

Game Night

I’ve had such bad luck with comedies lately that I saw this trailer with nothing but dread and skepticism. Of course I saw it anyway, but only because many of my reliable film buddies made it sound relatively watchable. And I’m happy to say they’re right. This is no comedic gem, no future cult classic, probably not even a movie you’ll discuss or remember with any fondness or clarity on the car ride home. But it is a solid movie with some laughs and an unexpectedly great performance by Jesse Plemmons – that alone is worth the watch.

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Annie (Rachel McAdams) and Max (Jason Bateman) are famous among their friends for hosting ultra-competitive game nights. It’s the best part of everyone’s week, and the only blemish is having to hide them from creepy next door neighbour Gary (Jesse Plemmons) who’s been disinvited ever since he and his wife split up. But a new blemish has popped up in the form of Max’s big brother (and the source of his low self-esteem and sperm count), Brooks (Kyle Chandler). Brooks is rich and successful and has never lost at anything, ever. Max can barely stand to be around him. So when Brooks proposes the latest in rich-guy game nights, the incredibly realistic murder mystery, with Max’s dream car up for grabs by the winner, you bet every single one of them is raring to go.

Except of course it’s possible that the game gets intersected with some real kidnap and murder shit that’s all but impossible to sort out. And Annie and Max keep playing the game with criminals who really aren’t.

McAdams, nearly 40, and especially Bateman, who is pushing 50, are a little old to be playing the young couple who’s only now wondering about starting a family, but the directors are confident they’re believably 30-somethings, so go with it. It’s also kind of difficult to believe that their group of friends are actually somehow friends, but go with that too. Stick it out for Jesse Plemmons. Watch and see if he cracks a smile even once, though he’s playing the most absurd character on screen.

There’s some memorable flair to the direction (I liked the establishing shots), and it mostly stays away from the groan-inducing lowest-common-denominator stuff that seems to be the bulk of comedy scripts lately. The cast is solid (McAdams in particular looks like she’s having fun), the premise is fairly fresh, and it’s a pretty entertaining night at the cinema.

 

 

Do you and your friends get together for game night?

Doctor Strange

strangeMarvel did it again.  They took another obscure supporting character, built a movie around him, and made me eager to see his next appearance in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This time, that obscure character was Doctor Strange, Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.

Anyone who’s read Marvel comics even sporadically knows who Doctor Strange is, because every so often he’d randomly pop up in your favourite hero’s comic to provide assistance or a few words of wisdom or encouragement.  As you may already know, my favourite hero was (and is) Spider-Man, and every ten issues or so I could count on Doctor Strange appearing through a portal, sticking around for 10-12 panels to move the story along, and then exiting as quickly as he entered.

strange-2But in this movie, because Doctor Strange is the star, we get to follow him through those portals and see what happens next from his perspective.  And it’s a hell of a ride.  Naturally, I could have done without the origin story but fortunately it’s injected with a welcome dose of humour that makes it speed by.  It helps that the opening scene features a battle that will leave the viewer wanting more and provides purpose and urgency to Strange’s magical training.

The special effects are spectacular and the visuals are glorious in IMAX 3D, just as last month’s sneak peek led me to believe.  It’s probably also tolerable in regular 3D or god forbid, stupid boring flat 2D, but I’ll never know, at least not until the movie comes to Netflix and I half-watch it while folding laundry.

The icing on the cake is that Marvel has assembled some first rate on-screen talent to supplement those trippy visuals, led by the Doctor himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, who is perfectly cast and does his usual baritone voice/good acting thing featuring a solid American accent.  If only I could do a British accent half as well (preferably cockney but I’m really not picky). Taking in a few more episodes of Sherlock can only help, right?

Add some Canadian flavour in Rachel McAdams, doing her regular accent as far as I know (honestly, if we don’t say “about” can you even tell we’re not American?), and a few more Brits in Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tilda Swinton (also both doing American accents even though their characters are worldly people currently living in Nepal), and by my count you’ve got one Oscar winner and three other Oscar nominees, whose talents really help sell silly comic words like Agamotto and Dormammu.  We’ve come a long way since the Stallone-Schneider superteam in Judge Dredd!

Doctor Strange is pure comic book joy.  It’s a welcome November blockbuster that will keep you entertained from start to finish.  I give it a score of nine spiritual goatees out of ten.

The Little Prince

A little girl has a bright future ahead of her. How do I know? She and her mother (Rachel McAdams) have her whole life planned out. A life plan so intense she’s more like her mother’s Senior VP than her daughter. Her mother’s best compliment: “You are going to make a wonderful grownup.”

But the crazy old man (Jeff Bridges) next door draws her out of her mature little shell with his fanciful inventions and his beautiful story-telling. His stories and drawings come to life in animation within the animation: the story of The Little Prince.

Growing up it was always Le Petit Prince to me, but even en anglais, the timeless story warms the heart. The main story, starring the little girl, and the crazy man’s story, starring the little prince, are distinguished with different styles of animation. The little girl is done in familiar CG style; the little prince is stop-motion, done not in clay but in paper. Both are lovely, 210b0b20-a7ab-11e5-88e2-828a3e695a05_1280x720but I confess a fondness for the nostalgia and simple loveliness of the latter.

The voice cast is incredible: Jeff Bridges, Paul Rudd, Albert Brooks, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, and more. It’s a real testament to just how cherished the book is, around the world. The Little Prince is a sweet children’s book but it can be read and enjoyed by adults, with many layers of themes to interpret. The same goes for the movie, faithfully and lovingly adapted from its source.

The little girl, too grown up for her own good, rediscovers childhood lp-garden-rgb-5kthrough friendship with the batty old guy next door. But anyone who knows the story knows that along with sweetness, there is also sorrow. The first half of the movie is all poetry and imagination. The second half falters a bit when it gets further away from Saint-Exupéry’s ideas and ideals. The movie is a little less fanciful than the novella, a little more down to earth. But The Little Prince has always been the stuff of dreams, too good, too ethereal for Earth. It’s still lovely though. It’s still one of the loveliest things I’ve seen all summer.

 

Melodrama… in 3D!: Part 2

Before Christmas, I questioned Gaspar Noe’s choice to film Love in 3D. While the gimmick of real sex in 3D managed to satisfy my moribid curiousity in a couple of scenes, the feeling that we could reach out and touch them couldn’t change the fact that the characters didn’t act or talk like real people.  Love was a dull, lifeless, depressing, and badly translated drama. But it had lots of sex.

Director Wim Wenders (whom I tend to like), also hit the 2015 festival circuit with an inexplicably 3D drama. Like Love, Every Thing Will Be Fine is dull, lifeless, depressing, and badly translated but doesn’t even have the decency to throw a little 3D ejaculate our way. What we DO get- and any Canadians out there might enjoy this- is Rachel McAdams doing a Quebec French accent. Despite the film being set in Montreal, why she would go out of her way to play Quebecoise, I have no idea. There are, after all, lots of English people living in the Canadian city. (I used to be one of them). Whatever her reasons, I’m willing to bet that the Screen Actors Guild did not see this movie or they would have never made the already questionable decision to nominate her for Best Supporting Actress in Spotlight.
Struggling writer Tomas’ (James Franco) relationship with Sara (McAdams) is already not going so great even before his life is changed forever by accidentally running over and killing a small boy with his car. The boy’s mother (Charlotte Gainsbourg) immediately makes it clear to Tomas that she doesn’t blame him but forgiving himself isn’t so easy for Tomas, even after he begins to profit from becoming a much more inspired and successful writer after the trauma.

My favourite Wim Wenders films (Wings of Desire and Paris, Texas) are understated and haunting but Every Thing Will Be Fine slows the pace down to a whole new level. Unsure of exactly, what the director’s looking for, Franco plays it safe by avoiding emoting at all costs. Probably aiming for restraint and subtlety (two qualities I admire most in an actor), he succeeds only at being wooden. He’s not burdened with an ill-advised accent but his performance is almost as embarrassing as McAdams’.

Gainsbourg and real-life Montrealer Marie-Josee Croze (The Barbarian Invasions, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) don’t come out looking so bad but even they don’t have anything interesting to do. Wenders seems especially committed to losing our interest by constantly disrupting the narrative to jump ahead a year or two, or sometimes even more, whenever there’s even the smallest risk that someone in the theater may find themselves caring even a tiny bit. And the dialogue from Norwegian screenwriter Bjorn Olaf Johanessen feels badly translated into English and is already being compared to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

I was not able to catch a screening of Every Thing Will Be Fine in 3D so I have no idea exactly what Wenders was going for by shooting in 3D. I do know that I’ve seen 3D summer blockbusters that had more heart than Wenders’ painfully dull drama.

TIFF 2015: Spotlight

spotlight

My Asshole compadres and I were enthusiastically discussing and comparing notes on all the wonderful films we’ve seen at TIFF over guacamole and cocktails when I raised the question of how difficult it can be to stay objective through TIFF-coloured glasses.

TIFF is exciting. I’d forgotten how exciting. The red carpets, the thrill of seeing eagerly anticipated movies before anyone else, and the frequent false alarm celebrity sightings (I could have sworn I saw Hillary Clinton last weekend outside TIFF Bell Lightbox but began to doubt myself when I heard her speak with a Ukranian accent) all make for as thrilling a trip to the cinema as you can get. Separating the quality of the film itself from the experience has been- I’m not going to lie- a challenge.

The anticipation I feel going into a TIFF screening and the focus I keep at all times at what’s happening onstage and onscreen made it particularly surprising that the couple sitting next to me at Monday’s international premiere of Spotlight, the true story of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, were making out through the beginning of the movie. That’s a TIFF first for me.

So you’ll excuse me- I hope- if I was a little distracted for a little while at the beginning. Luckily, the urgency of Spotlight soon caught even my neighbors’ attention and we could all sit back and enjoy the show. Well, maybe “enjoy” is the wrong word. Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Keaton play real-life Boston Globe journalists who exposed the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sexual abuse at the hands of approximately 90 local priests. It’s not always an easy movie to watch. The interview scenes where survivors disclose the details of the abuse are harrowing and stomach-turning and the extent of the corruption on the part of the Church and so many others who turned a blind eye is infuriating.

Last week, I named All the President’s Men, The Insider, and Zodiac as my three favourite films about journalism. All three are based on real journalists and maintain suspense throughout while mostly avoiding melodrama. Spotlight works for many of the same reasons as those films did but doesn’t quite measure up to my favourites. It’s not always as tightly written as those  films and even drags a little in the middle but Keaton- who can’t seem to believe his luck getting great parts two years in a row– gives a passionate performance that always keeps things moving. He may get his second shot at Oscar with this film.