Tag Archives: entertainment

My boyfriend’s best friend is dreamy

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First up, full disclosure: I don’t currently have a boyfriend.

This is why I think I have waited until this golden, shining singleton moment to confess that I have never failed to have a thing for the quirky sidekick of the leading men in my life. It’s a little tricky (not to mention risky) to write this post when you’re in a relationship.

Of course I have never acted on these crushes over the years. In reality, no matter how deliciously understanding, cute, sweet and funny your boyfriend’s best friend is, the true reason for his appeal is that he is similar to your boyfriend but you don’t have to deal with his annoying habits. You get to hold onto the fantasy that he is like your boyfriend, but without the stuff that makes you grind your teeth at night. You know, those things that your boyfriend says or does that you try to ‘work’ through, but are really concerned are giving you a stomach ulcer due to all of your repressed anger and frustration.

However, it’s an entirely different situation in movies. The quirky boy best friends are exceptionally awesome and, quite often, are shunned by the girl even when they prove they are far more worthy than the leading man.

So without further ado, here is my tribute to the unsung heroes of film: the guys on the sidelines who I firmly believe should have been chosen over the guy saying, “Sorry, just realised I have been a complete tosser this whole time, but I love you. Lucky you. Will you marry me?” at the end of the movie.

Jon Cryer, Pretty in Pink.

Jon Cryer, Pretty in Pink.

1. Classic Jon Cryer. How can you turn down a young man named Ducky? He sang to you, Ringwald, he sang to you. And side note, I don’t know, I just don’t think that dress is quite… there yet.

John Krasinski, Something Borrowed.

2. Are you kidding me, Ginnifer?? What kind of name is Ginnifer? Ginnifer is the Molly Ringwald of the present day, I’ve just decided. Nothing like a close, loyal, smart, funny friend who you love dearly and is JOHN KRASINSKI, the nicest guy on the planet after Steve Carrell, when you can try to be with a guy who fell for your ditzy, self-absorbed ‘best friend’ and isn’t sure a relationship with you looks right.

Jason Biggs, My Best Friend’s Girl.

3. I refer to My Best Friend’s Girl yet again. This movie contains so many ‘what the f*@#!’ moments for me. Sure, the pie guy comes on a little strong in this one but if we’re holding him up against Dane La Douche Cook? Neither guy wins on the names though. Tank and Dusty? Sounds like an ill-written children’s book about a couple of scrappy mutts comically awaiting adoption at the local pound, lest they be sent to doggy heaven. Alec Baldwin should have been called Rover. But hey, at least Kate Hudson’s character was named after Joan Collins in Dynasty. Ok, I’ll stop it on the name criticism. But seriously, Hollywood.

Jason Lee, Chasing Amy.

4. Banky Edwards. Now I’m not saying Alyssa Jones had a shot with him (due to his predilection for dick and fart jokes), but maybe I would have taken a moment’s pause to consider the uh, offer in that living room scene at the end. Grown men who can pull off a backwards baseball cap are my weakness. Very few can. Many try.

Mark Ruffalo, Rumor Has It.

5. Ok, Jennifer Aniston, really try to concentrate this time. Mark Ruffalo or Kevin Costner? NO, GODDAMNIT! … Ok. I’m sorry. I’m going to ask you one last time. Ok. Maark, as in the handsome guy who rocked Meg Ryan’s world in In the Cut, or Kevin? Now remember, Kevin was in Waterworld. And you thought he was your father. Thank god she gets it right in the end at least.

Ed Norton, Fight Club.

6. This one isn’t entirely valid because well, 14-year-old spoiler alert, Helena Bonham Carter did actually choose Ed Norton, but to my mind, Ed is the sexier version of Brad Pitt, not the other way around as it is presented to us. Like if they were really separate people, I would be all about Ed.

Ed Norton, Keeping the Faith.

7. Ed Norton, part two. Keeping the Faith – why doesn’t Dharma, I mean Jenna Elfman, pick Ed over Ben Stiller? Given Ed directed this movie, I’m guessing it’s because he’s humble. Which makes me love him even more.

Adam Goldberg, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

8. Adam Goldberg. His character is witty, articulate and gets the leading man to see reason about the lady in the end, before she gets away. Just imagine Adam on the motorbike to the tune of the best Gin Blossoms song in the movie’s finale, instead of the guy who communicates via a series of grunts, squeals and chin thrusts. Best line from McConaughey in the movie: “Naw, naw, naw, naw, naw, come oon, man, hoooooooo!” Use your words, Matthew.

Ron Livingston, Buying the Cow.

9. Three words, Bridgette Wilson: spoilt for choice. Your boyfriend’s friends include Ryan Reynolds and Ron (slacker has never been made more sexy) Livingston and you’ve gone with the crybaby who couldn’t cross a bridge in Stand by Me. And you’re a smoking hot blonde. I may also be looking at you, Rebecca Romijn. Not going to rub it in though, Bridgette, you paid the price for your mistake. We’ve all been there.

Jon Favreau, The Break Up.

10. Putting this one out there… Jon Favreau. He’s got that big bear thing like Javier Bardem that makes me just wanna sit on his lap. No, just me? Ok, never mind. I also don’t have dreams about Pete Hornberger from 30 Rock taking me out to a dive bar for beers and under-the-table knee rubs. Really, I don’t.

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More macho movies

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Rocky has such a heart of gold he takes personal responsibility for tenderising all of Philadelphia's meat.

Rocky has such a heart of gold he takes personal responsibility for tenderising all of Philadelphia’s meat. (Photo credit: Comic Vine)

It was quite the sausage fest on my TV screen this week with five more movies crossed off my Top 250 IMDb list: Rocky, There Will Be Blood, The Wrestler, The Third Man, and The Bourne Ultimatum.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Interesting timing to watch this movie! I think I read about the Edward Snowden NSA leak the following day and the third installment of the Jason Bourne series certainly plays on the same idea: does a government have the right to make fundamental decisions about people’s lives without the consent or knowledge of those people? Is it ever justifiable to give someone the ‘no questions asked’ go-ahead to destroy the life of anyone they choose in the name of greater safety for all?

I liked this movie and think it raised these questions quite articulately but like the other Bourne movies, the action sequences lose me a little. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the series, but I have learned that I may as well get up and make a coffee when Bourne starts kicking ass because my eyes obviously can’t keep up with the rapidity of shots that are so short they may well qualify as subliminal messaging. All I need to know is what happened in the end. Did Bourne win again? Of course he did. Then it’s just a matter of finding out if anyone has switched sides. Oops, spoiler alert!

All of that and Matt Damon makes for the most attractive action hero ever. Can more action heroes not be jerks? I like that there is a cap on how many cheesy one-liners in the vein of ‘I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum’ are included in these movies.

Rocky

“Adrian!” Oh Sly, what a charming leading man you make. You know, if a woman is either deaf or stupid. Given your leading lady doesn’t really say anything until halfway through the movie, I could make sense of why she agrees to date you – she’s got to be impaired in some way, right? Wrong.

Yes, Rocky is the sweet underdog. Yes, he has a heart of gold. But he also talks wall-to-wall crap for the entire duration of the movie.

I don’t like this movie, but I don’t hate it either. It’s about as subtle as a very slow, intentional punch to the face, but I’m super glad that there are people out there who love it. It has a lovely message that I haven’t seen communicated so well since Walt Disney’s Dumbo. I would explain the message but I don’t want to be condescending.

The Wrestler

This is what a more sophisticated movie about a fighter looks like. This movie repeatedly broke my heart and then mended it from start to finish.

The plot makes you want to jump off a bridge, it is so tragic, but it is an incredible character piece for Mickey Rourke.

I thought some steroid-injecting, old guy with long bleached hair who fake wrestles other men for fun and hangs out at his local strip club would be hard for me to relate to. This, the second film I have watched of Darren Aronofsky (see my review of Black Swan from last week), perfectly captures the one, universal thing about humans no matter where they are in the world: we crave connection.

As much as Mickey’s character Randy loves wrestling, he would throw it all away if it meant he never had to feel lonely again. Realising that he lost the person he cared most about, his daughter, because he instead chose the fast times of being a professional wrestler is the biggest lesson of his life. Even though he is solely responsible for his loneliness, you want so badly for him to have his daughter back in his life. It is unbearable to see someone alone with no one who cares about him and I think this audience reaction is a defining thing about humanity.

Also, I didn’t really buy that no one wanted a private dance from Marisa Tomei’s stripper character because she was older. She is insanely hot in the movie; I don’t care how old you are.

There Will Be Blood

With Daniel Day Lewis, a filmmaker can’t go wrong. I don’t think the plot of this movie really worked but it still held my attention while I dug my fingernails into my knees because Daniel Day Lewis is so intense in every scene I was always convinced he was going to murder someone, anyone.

Paul Dano as his nemesis gives a great performance, but he just can’t compete with the Day Lewis factor. They need to give him a more formidable opponent.

The film makes a pretty clear statement about the trappings of success and greed and how it can leave a person cold to even their own family. It’s nicely paralleled in the final scene when Paul Dano’s character Eli Sunday renounces the one thing that is supposed to mean the most to him.

Daniel’s son H.W. is the one person you care about, but he’s not really well developed enough to carry your interest. Everyone else just seems evil, stupid, or like a potential murder victim.

Because there is no strong character to empathise with, I didn’t feel invested beyond feeling terrified that I was about to see murders all the time.

The movie’s title may also have had a hand in this anxiety.

The Third Man

That Orson Welles, what a kidder. His character, Harry Lime, certainly leads his poor buddy Holly Martins up the garden path, alright. (Reread those last two sentences in a 1950s sassy American reporter voice. It will help you transition to thinking about old movies.)

Not just his buddy, but the army police, his girlfriend, everybody really.

It’s a nice little mystery to watch unfold, but it is very hard for me to see why his friend, Holly, and his girlfriend, Anna, ever thought so highly of him. His character is a real scumbag and when we finally meet him and hear what he has to say for himself, he is completely unapologetic and finds the whole situation and the damage he has caused to be a joke. He doesn’t seem capable of putting on a charade to fool anyone into thinking he is a great guy.

I enjoyed this movie, but only in the same way I enjoyed those ‘Choose your own Adventure’ books when I was a kid. It’s a short-lived novelty to figure out the answer to the mystery with the main character.

On the upside, there’s a lovely shot of Orson Welles’ face caught in the moonlight halfway through the movie. He really had a cool-looking face and his voice was neat-o. That’s all I have to say about that.

This week… in my living room

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Oh wait, no, I didn't murder anyone in my living room. I just watched some movies.

Oh wait, no, I didn’t murder anyone in my living room. I just watched some movies.

Over the past week, in my mission to watch all the movies on the Top 250 IMDb list, I have watched Black Swan, Inglourious Basterds, Dial M for Murder, Gandhi, and The Godfather Part II.

Here are my thoughts…

Black Swan

Obviously, I didn’t exactly rush out to see this one. It has taken me until now to worship at the altar of Natalie Portman. Oh, I thought she was a pretty good actress, for sure, but no performance she had delivered had ever blown me away. No, not even in Star Wars, can you believe it.

That has all changed with Black Swan. I was actually angry with myself for not seeing this earlier. For once, I wished I had listened to the hype. Natalie’s performance, and the movie itself, mimics its subject matter. It is exactly like a ballet, perfectly executed.

As Natalie’s character Nina loses herself more and more in the dance and her quest to find the Black Swan, the dark side within herself, I found myself sitting on my couch, finding my anger over so many things that had happened in the past year of my own life. Seriously, I need to pay Natalie and director Darren Aronofsky for therapy.

Natalie perfectly portrays Nina’s childlike vulnerability, ambition, social awkwardness, fear, and anger. The film forces the viewer out of their comfortable, distant role of the knowing aunt, tsk-tsking at Nina’s low self esteem and fragility, into her world of confusion, fear, and darkness.

I think this film will stand the test of time and will still be regarded a classic in decades to come. I will be watching Aronofsky’s The Wrestler this week and can’t wait to see how he has told this story.

Inglourious Basterds

As a welcome change to all the old mafia and western movies I’ve been watching from the list, I saw a second film from within the past few years this week.

I have a complicated relationship with Quentin Tarantino. I so admire and relate to his nerdiness, his ability to reference such a diverse range of pop culture in his films (and his chatty-chat-chat interviews).

What I find difficult to deal with are the graphic killings in his movies. And boy, wouldn’t he love to hear that.

It’s not that I can’t take violence in movies. It’s a vital part of telling many stories. One of the earlier films I watched from the list was The Pianist, the story of a Jewish man during the Nazi occupation of his native Poland. Every murder in that movie shocked me and broke my heart, until I realised I’d spent an hour with my hand over my mouth and tears in my eyes. I visited Auschwitz and many other sites of Nazi atrocities during my trip earlier this year, and it was clear that the violence that occurred during this time was in no way exaggerated or glamourised in The Pianist.

Perhaps this Eastern Europe trip and the conversations I had with people who either lived through the Nazi occupation or whose family members did, was not going to be the best place for me to come from to think this movie was awesome. It certainly simplifies a very painful history that still exists within living memory for many people in the world.

Or maybe I’m just getting a little tired of Tarantino’s spaghetti western approach to telling any story.

The, yes, Jewish American, but American cowboys who come in to save the day just seemed so unnecessary to me. Why couldn’t the story have stayed with Shosanna? It begins with her and her family and the climax of the movie takes place in her cinema, where her plan comes to fruition; why are the cowboys necessary? It is an entirely fictional story, after all. I feel like the movie sells out Shosanna and her importance as the central character, in favour of Brad Pitt and his big knife. [Insert phallic theory here.]

I guess this angle is the only way that Tarantino could feel he had some claim as storyteller about this subject matter.

Coming up on the list is Django Unchained and I’m trying to keep an open mind, even though the approach seems to be about the same. Like most film lovers, I really really want to like Tarantino’s films. He is, after all, one of us. But I think his films need to grow up a little and stand on their own two feet.

Dial M for Murder

Hitchcock’s reputation as a flawless storyteller remains intact, in my mind, after watching this movie.

One of his lesser-raved-about films, I had the same experience watching it as I have had with his others; I feel like I can almost hear him thinking about each shot, each line of dialogue, the placement of each prop.

Like listening to a great album for the first time on vinyl, I turn a Hitchcock film up loud and hold my breath, not wanting to miss any subtle detail.

Dial M for Murder mostly takes place in a single room and I didn’t even realise this until the end. Hitchcock is such the master of suspense that I never once felt bored.

Ray Milland as Tony Wendice is incredible. He inspires hate, empathy, admiration, and fear in the audience. And that voice! He sent shivers down my spine. Tony Wendice is a refreshing change for a villain; the only weapon he ever wields is his intelligence.

I won’t say too much more about this one for those who haven’t seen it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Gandhi

Watching this movie has made me want to change my life! It makes you believe in the power of an idea and of committing to that idea at all costs.

The real-life character of Gandhi makes it difficult to think of the film alone. The man is so inspiring and continues to carry such an empowering message of peace for people, even beyond his death, that watching the movie feels like a deeply spiritual experience.

However, thinking this way, I realised that this is evidence of how good the film is. Richard Attenborough knew he had an incredibly powerful subject for his film and just had to get out of the way.

I watched an interview with the actor who portrayed Gandhi, Ben Kingsley, and he spoke of just copying Gandhi as best as he could from recordings. The scenes of Gandhi with the crowds were shot with Ben and the crowds. There was no digital combination of the two created later, they were really there together, giving Ben the sensation of what it must have felt like for the real Gandhi.

This movie beautifully shows that when you have an incredible story to tell, don’t try to tell it, don’t embellish, don’t sign to the audience that this is dramatic or important, applaud here, etc. Just tell it.

The Godfather Part II

What an appropriate film to see directly after Gandhi. Talk about a different philosophical approach…

So while I had just experienced a spiritual awakening about peace and tolerance, this film, which thematically centres on revenge, still lived up to the hype for me.

And I totally agree that it’s better than the first Godfather. This is called the ‘De Niro Factor’.

Robert De Niro is just so damn good at making you feel a connection, an empathy with his characters. In this movie, when he is standing outside the room where his baby is ill, your heart goes out to this young father, feeling helpless and desperate that he can’t properly provide and care for his family.

The superiority of his performance, spoken almost entirely in Italian, made me long for more Vito Corleone, less Michael Corleone. Don’t get me wrong, Al Pacino plays Michael well, but he has become too much the hardened mob boss by this part of The Godfather story. The opportunities to feel empathy for his character (the rifts between Michael and his brother Fredo, and between him and his wife Kay) fall flat because it’s just so hard to see his vulnerability anymore. These experiences seem to affect his ego more than play on his fear of losing his family.

The contrast between the young Vito and the older Michael though does help to tell the story and it’s obvious what Francis Ford Coppola was trying to achieve. Personally, however, I think the recipe was just ever so slightly off. A dash more Vito and a sprinkle of remaining vulnerability in Michael and it would have been perfect.