My attention is diverted by a low-priced Witness Bluray streeting on 10.13. This offers an opportunity to praise one of the most satisfying punch-out scenes ever captured in the history of motion pictures. It works because it arrives after nearly an hour of milking cows, raising barns, fixing car engines and making goo-goo eyes at Kelly McGillis. It feels so good when those bullies start giving grief to Alexander Godunov because they don’t know what’s coming…but we do. You’re about to get schooled, assholes.
Ageism can be hilarious! The underlying message in this broad slapstick piece, an apparent creation of Huffpost‘s Ricky Camilleri, is that companies should think twice about using 60-plus interns because of their health issues and whatnot. They might drool or crap in their pants or even die on you. Note: The white-haired actor dies too quickly. He should look worried, exhale loudly a few times, put his right hand over his heart and then die.
From my Tellruide Film Festival review of Davis Guggenheim‘s He Named Me Malala (Fox Searchlight, 10.2): “The people on my gondola coming down from the Chuck Jones Cinema were beaming, almost swooning. But they were reacting, trust me, more to the subject matter than the film itself. Which feels and plays like a lesson, a sermon, an 80-something minute educational piece that…you know, we all need to see and contemplate and so on. It’s a good-for-you spinach movie, as I supposed it would be yesterday.
“One can’t help but feel touched and inspired by the saga of teenaged Pakistani education activist (and current resident of Birmingham, England) Malala Yousafzai, and particularly how she managed to not only survive being shot in the head three years ago (when she was 15) by a Taliban fanatic, but how she recovered and continued to campaign for female education in Pakistan and other Muslim countries, and how she won the Nobel Peace Prize late last year. The more this film is seen worldwide (particularly in Middle-Eastern territories where the suppression of women is appalling), the better.
“But Guggenheim’s film is just okay. If you wanted to be a sorehead you could say it almost flirts with mediocrity. But I don’t want to say that because I don’t want to discourage anyone from seeing it. He Named Me Malala stands for the right things, shows the right things, says the right things and uses watercolor-like animation to convey portions of Malala’s life…all to the good. But it never seems to find any kind of levitational groove or strategy that would result in a 2 + 2 = 5 equation.
Three days ago Etiquette Pictures released a Bluray of The American Dreamer, a 1971 doc about the late Dennis Hopper during his looniest, druggiest, hippie-dippiest phase. About five years ago I was invited by co-directors L.M. Kit Carson (a longtime friend who passed last year) and Lawrence Schiller to a special Film Society of Lincoln Center screening of the film. Here’s a portion of my review, which I titled “American Boob”:
“Speaking as a longtime pal of Carson’s and an admirer of Schiller’s, I regret being unable to think of anything remotely flattering to say. The vibe in the room was kindly and sympathetic, but what I heard and felt after the show was mainly polite astonishment. Why had Schiller and Carson decided to even show this thing?
“I was stunned by the doc’s shapeless sloppiness, and amused and repelled by its portrait of Hopper as a bearded, drug-fried horndog on the verge of destroying his directing career with the abomination that was The Last Movie.
“You might expect The American Dreamer to be a portrait of an allegedly gifted director (Hopper helmed Easy Rider two years before the doc was shot) at some kind of personal crossroads, his state of mind clearly affected (to put it mildly) by pot and hallucinogens. You’re thinking you’ll at least get to sample Hopper’s milieu and personality as he was finishing editing on The Last Movie, a film so allegedly incoherent that it ended his behind-the-camera career until he finally sobered up in the mid ’80s. And maybe get to ‘know’ the guy on some level.
Strange as this may sound, Hollywood Elsewhere doesn’t have that much of a problem with Nancy Meyers‘ The Intern. I caught it last night, expecting to be underwhelmed or narcotized in the usual Meyers way…and yet somehow this combination of two 20 mg. Xanax tabs and a mild slice of quiche went down easy. Does it give you a feeling of electric discovery and high-throttle wowser and a flood of emotion pouring out of a fire hydrant? No, but it lulls you into thinking that there’s more to life than just this. Especially if you’re 50-plus with a vial of Cialis in the bathroom cabinet.
It’s about Ben, a 70 year-old retiree (Robert De Niro) who needs a job of some kind to keep from losing his mind, and so he lands a senior intern gig at an online fashion company run by Jules (Anne Hathaway), a driven, detail-obsessed entrepeneur. And nothing really happens. Not that much, I mean. The Intern reminded me of “Nothing Is Easy,” the Jethro Tull song, but in a different context. Sometimes “nothing” is no sweat.
The sharp, organized and always gentlemanly Ben fits right in, and not only does he not fuck anything up but Hathaway eventually realizes he’s a kind of low-key gift from the Gods — nice guy, problem-solver, friend, chauffeur, silver smoothie, confidante, etc. A 21st Century Mr. Belvedere. De Niro and Hathaway and the friendly, well-groomed supporting cast just amble along. This happens and that happens. Easy does it. How can you hate a film that begins and ends with a nice Tai-Chi class in a park?
The Intern has (a) one really funny line that I laughed out loud at, (b) the usual over-heated slapstick-style reactions to anything to do with sexuality, and (c) a steady supply of mellow.
All I know is that if you can let The Intern in (and I realize that could be a problem in some quarters), it gives you a nice, comfortable, settled-down feeling. Sometimes it’s okay just to lie back and submit to a nice foot massage. As long as you’ve just showered and had a recent pedicure, I mean.
The worst thing that happens is the issue of Jules’ cheating stay-at-home husband, Matt (Anders Holm). But it’s nothing to get bent out of shape over. One look at Holm’s reddish beard and floppy bohemian hair and bathrobe-and-sweat-pants attire and I decided “whatever…not that hot…a bit of a belly that will grow over the years…considerate guy but not that dynamic…if he and Jules get divorced, fine…they can share custody.”