Romy Shiller

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

The Vow: Or, “Really?”

In Film, review on March 26, 2012 at 8:44 am

Love is a many splendid thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!

from the movie Moulin Rouge

 

A car accident puts Paige (McAdams) in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo (Tatum) works to win her heart again.

 

Review by Romy Shiller

 

Director: Michael Sucsy

Writers: Jason Katims, Abby Kohn

Stars: Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum and Sam Neill

(maybe some spoilers, but who cares?)

 

Yuck. Sorry to those of you that liked it but this is one of the worst films I have ever seen. This film is described as a chick-flick and last time I checked, I was a chick. The concept is very nice – a husband lets his wife ‘be’ after a brain trauma, which leaves her with no memory of him. He is very much in love with her and their old life together. So, the ideas here are intriguing but the execution of them, poor.

Basically, the story: Paige and Leo are a blissfully married young Chicago couple. As they’re driving around town one snowy night a truck rear-ends them. Paige gets thrown through the windshield, suffering a severe head injury... Paige, upon waking from medically induced sleep, doesn’t recognize her husband.

The plot includes a controlling father, an evil ex and a cat. Paige does not remember the fight she had with her parents, why she left her old fiancée or why she is an artist and not a lawyer.

I was thinking that many people would focus on the ideas here and that would be enough – I mean an entire demographic likes the Twilight films (REVIEW) but this film just sucks on so many more levels. Sure, I have a problem with the Twilight films, but The Vow is so bad, it is not even comparable to anything.

There is also the expectation for female identification – in this respect I want to punch someone, not in a good way. Many people imagine that there is a standard for female behavior – I do not. It isn’t that this film conforms to a recognized ‘norm,’ it does not even feel cliché.

Rachel McAdams is still riding on the wave of The Notebook. While The Vow is a romantic drama, the similarities end there. Channing Tatum is associated with the romantic drama Dear John. Both actors have a niche but in this case, they also have extremely bad judgment.

The chemistry between the two characters is highly questionable. Because the story relies on their bond, it is flawed from the get-go. Critic Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly says, The two stars look dewy and glossy and unexceptional, bound together less by chemistry than by the ministrations of a hard-working costume designer.

Rachel and Channing had not met before they were cast. Rachel asked the director, “How do I know? What if we don’t have chemistry?”

Michael Sucsy said, “Listen, for this particular story, if you have chemistry, it’s going to work. And, if you don’t have chemistry, it’s still going to work.

You didn’t have to edit it together and put a bunch of violins over everything to make it look like they had chemistry. They had chemistry. It’s totally real.

Sure.

A review in The Guardian says that Channing Tatum is terribly miscast…

The story is based on actual events, which I am sure are very interesting. Michael Sucsy said, “I just thought it sounded like an incredible premise for a film. The fact that two people are already in love when the movie starts, and then they’re ripped apart, and then they have to find a way back to each other. That really touched me.”

However critic Richard Roeper says, The Vow is inspired by a true and wonderful story, but that doesn’t make the fictionalized version any less ridiculous.

The writing is choppy, unrealistic, does not flow, and is simply flawed. Editing might have broken up a rhythm, or tried to salvage the writing – who knows? It is half-baked and full of holes, villains written in bold type and, even though it’s based on a true story,an air of concocted banality.

Michael Sucsy directed the television film Grey Gardens (2009), which I liked… The Vow was messy, like the director had a hard time making choices. If he thought that his actors had chemistry and if the focus was on the story, the technical side suffered. The direction was misguided.

I kept looking at the Toronto locations to see if I recognized them. I used to live in Toronto. When you start looking at locations instead of the film, well, um, there’s a problem.

Critic Joseph Proimakis says, panhgyrikh teleth oxi anagnwrishs toy megaleioy ths dynamhs ths agaphs, bebaia, alla ths epibebaiwshs ths yperoxhs ths gkomenas poy probalei ton eayto ths apanw sta lagoydisia matakia ths prwtagwnistria. What he said.

‘Nine’ or All That Glitters is not Gold

In 3rd Wave Feminism, Film, review on March 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I thought that I’d re-post an older article that I wrote elsewhere – ‘Nine’ or All That Glitters is not Gold from April 5, 2010. http://www.liveforfilms.com/2012/03/18/nine-or-all-that-glitters-is-not-gold/

AGAIN – Chapter 14: Time

In book on March 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

I was reminded of this chapter  [http://www.amazon.comI wrote before watching the very wonderful television series ‘Being Erica.’


The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.

Marcel Proust

Here we go. Take a deep breath. We are going to take a big leap together.  Imagine a world that is not linear, that does not go from point A to point B. Imagine a Universe, imagine our Earth, that is slices and you can insert yourself wherever and whenever. Imagine Time moving forward and backwards. I believe we live in a very wonky reality.

“… (the Soul), may maintain a state of existence, (may continue propagation as a process), under certain conditions, after the animate form has expired.”[1] We are only aware of being, of existing a certain way. We are constrained by, among other things, physical laws. However, other dimensions and Universes are being written about[2] and explored. You might wonder about what effect this will have on your life. Knowing this stuff is about, at a minimum, satisfying curiosity. We can live with blinders on, veils, nets and it is my belief it is better to see clearly. Knowledge is good.

Like I say in the introduction I believe we would live brand new lives in the past. It is necessary to reorganize how we think about Time if this is so. We live in a Universe where time flows in a certain direction. NOVA online asks: “Is time real? Does it flow in one direction only? Does it have a beginning or an end? What is eternity? None of these questions can be answered to scientists’ satisfaction. Yet the mere asking of these questions stretches our minds, and the continual search for answers provides useful insights along the way.”[3] We would have to be open to the possibility that other modalities exist. I enjoy reading Quantum Physics because, in addition to much else, time as we know it is suspect. In many different ways the distortion of reality found in Quantum Physics fits my own philosophy. What might appear weird to others is not weird to me. I can absorb and accept new and different possibilities. It does not faze me to consider other options. That which is altered is fascinating.

“Time is of your own making;
its clock ticks in your head.
The moment you stop thought
time too stops dead.”

Angelus Silesius (a sixth-century philosopher and poet)

“Most cultures have a grammar with past and future tenses, and also demarcations like seconds and minutes, and yesterday and tomorrow. Yet we cannot say exactly what time is. Although the study of time became scientific during the time of Galileo and Newton, a comprehensive explanation was given only in this century by Einstein, who declared, in effect, time is simply what a clock reads. The clock can be the rotation of a planet, sand falling in an hourglass, a heartbeat, or vibrations of a cesium atom. A typical grandfather clock follows the simple Newtonian law that states that the velocity of a body not subject to external forces remains constant. This means that clock hands travel equal distances in equal times. While this kind of clock is useful for everyday life, modern science finds that time can be warped in various ways, like clay in the hands of a cosmic sculptor.”[4]

There are many facets of Quantum Physics that I extrapolate from and align with reincarnation such as the double slit experiment or “wave–particle duality is the concept that all matter exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties. A central concept of quantum mechanics, duality addresses the inadequacy of classical concepts like “particle” and “wave” in fully describing the behaviour of objects;”[5] the cat in a box that is both dead and alive “The thought experiment serves to illustrate the strangeness of quantum mechanics;”[6] the ideas of awareness and matter[7], and more, speak to me in a fashion about identity and being, the ideas held in this book: ”So it seems that quantum physics is not weird and incomprehensible because it describes something completely different from everyday reality. It is weird and incomprehensible precisely because it describes the world we see around us – past, present, and future.”[8]

The ideas in String Theory are simply amazing. It presupposes extra dimensions and hidden universes. We are all living on something called a brane and matter cannot escape from it. People have extrapolated from this, claiming that maybe gods live beyond what we can perceive.[9] The fishbowl, eh? The thoughts here are so provocative and extraordinary. It is extremely necessary to think beyond three dimensions; it proposes that there are at least eleven dimensions. Multiple universes are a given; the usual analogy is that there is a loaf of bread sliced up and each slice contains a distinct universe. I am happy to simplify it now but it is very complex, involves loads of mathematical principles and has big names like Newton and Einstein tied to it. Stephen Hawking is attempting to formulate a “theory of everything” in large part from it.

“We are a moment in astronomic time, a transient guest of the Earth. Our wet, wrinkled brains do not allow us to comprehend many mysteries of time and space. Our brains evolved to make us run from saber-toothed cats on the American savanna, to hunt deer, and to efficiently scavenge from the kills of large carnivores. Despite our mental limitations, we have come remarkably far. We have managed to pull back the cosmic curtains a crack to let in the light. Questions raised by physicists, from Newton to Kurt Gödel to Einstein to Stephen Hawking, are among the most profound we can ask.”[10]

So what happens to history? Many people believe in multiple universes and that would presuppose varied histories. At the same time there would be no obstacle to reincarnating into a time period one has not visited before. We cannot meet ourselves in other incarnations. That does not mean we were not a well-known person before. If there is such a thing as living again then that could be a distinct possibility.

History and time travel might collide. “Today, we know that time travel need not be confined to myths, science fiction, Hollywood movies, or even speculation by theoretical physicists. Time travel is possible. For example, an object traveling at high speeds ages more slowly than a stationary object. This means that if you were to travel into outer space and return, moving close to light speed, you could travel thousands of years into the Earth’s future.”[11] Concept, eh? I do not know about you but to me the possibilities for time travel are so fascinating. “Some theories are predicated on the fact that we move forward in time, and both forward and backward in space. Since time and space have been shown to be intrinsically linked, traveling forwards and backwards through time is not a theoretical impossibility.”[12] No wonder I like this stuff. For someone who questions conventional notions of time I find the research validating.

“A conveniently-located wormhole would…provide a convenient and rapid way to travel very large distances, or even to travel to another Universe. Maybe the exit to the wormhole would lie in the past, so that you could travel back in time by going through. All in all, they sound pretty cool.”[13] I must locate a wormhole!

I do not believe in fate so is the future pre-determined? Does the future already exist? I think about how an observer could change things and I think not. Even if no one is visited by a time traveler there is free will and one can choose a different thought, change one’s mind. I think there are many, many possible versions of the future. It has been said that even if a grain of sand is removed from a beach there is an effect, a consequence. The possibilities for the future are like grains of sand.


[2]  See Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions by Lisa Randall “published in 2005, about particle physics in general and additional dimensions of space (cf. Kaluza-Klein theory) in particular. The book has made it to top 50 at amazon.com, making it the world’s first successful book on theoretical physics by a female author.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warped_Passages&gt;

[9]  There are many PBS documentaries on this.

THE DESCENDANTS

In Film, review on March 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm

You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see.

Austin Kl

A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

Director: Alexander Payne

Writers: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon

Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller

 

So, this film was nominated for an Oscar for best film and George Clooney (Matt King) for best actor. This film unlike other best film nominees like The Artist or Hugo is not about film in any way. It is simply a story about a family. A husband deals with his wife’s coma, her infidelity, and the mostly family dynamics her coma spawns. I think that it is extremely important to show that life can be messy and that certain ideals are less than ideal. This film is the antithesis of a Disney film. I dislike most Disney films because I find they pander to an unrealistic standard.

An interview in Indiewire sees Alexander Payne who made Election, About Schmidt and Sideways discussing the film and he agrees that there is a stronger feeling of resolution and life-affirmation in this film than the others.

 

He said; Well, I don’t think I’m selling out or making a particularly Hollywood film. Also, the term — not to take you too literally — “life-affirming”: Is it “life-affirming” or “life-observing” to say that tragic stuff happens and we move on?

I also want my films to be charming and entertaining. As for the ending of the film, rhythmically this wouldn’t have worked, but if I could’ve found a way to end the film with that close-up of Clooney on the boat, where he delivers that Wild Bunch-style line: Well, I guess that’s it… (laughs)

This is the husband’s film. It is about how he reacts to events, news, his family, his land…Clooney is fine but honestly unless there are big moments where he is angry or crying he’s kind of hard to read. Those big moments must have led to his nominations as best actor because frankly I was underwhelmed by his performance.

 

Clooney became a household name and bonafide sex symbol. When he made the jump to the big screen, Clooney alternated between big-budget studio films and smaller, more politically minded fare. He earned Oscar nods for directing and co-writing Good Night, and Good Luck, became an Oscar winner for his supporting role in Syriana, and earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for 2011′s The Descendants.

Critic Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post says, A tough, tender, observant, exquisitely nuanced portrait of mixed emotions at their most confounding and profound — all at play within a deliciously damp, un-touristy Hawaii that’s at once lush and lovely to look at.   It wasn’t that he was just nuanced – there was a fill-in-the-blank quality. If one could insert themself into his experience, he becomes you, and maybe that feels like good acting – who knows? Mark Twain said; “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Look, many people think his acting here is worthy of best actor – I do not.

 

This is a slow film, which is fine by me. Like slowly peeling an onion there are layers. There are no explosions or car chases. There are no secret agents, no objects transforming themselves, no guns. The landscape is beautiful, there is grittiness in Matt’s children, the infidelity news is disturbing and given the wife’s unconscious state – complex. Selling the ancient land – is full of meaning. A lot is going on here.

Matt’s daughters are disturbed. The eldest is a drug addict and alcoholic. Before the mother’s coma, she was sent away to a boarding school. She has a boyfriend who is irreverent and great in my books. An acrid older relative, Matt’s father-in-law, punches him. The youngest daughter acts out after her mother’s coma by bullying a schoolmate. Her method of ‘coping’ is contentious.

On Rotten Tomatoes Critic Luke Buckmaster says, The film’s tone is quaint but the story dramatic…Yes.

Certain plot-elements are resolved but not tied up in a neat bow. The status quo is pushed and while this is not an edgy film, there is resistance to many dominant ways of being. It was a very good film but not the best film out there for sure.