Monday, March 3, 2014

While you were watching the Oscars

I was, as usual, blissfully not. Instead I had a marathon four movie afternoon and evening..…Let’s start with the last going backwards.....The best of the two more recent movies was Our Idiot Brother (2011 Jesse Peretz) starring a great cast headed by Paul Rudd. This was a hoot. Rudd as Ned is brother to three sisters and unwittingly a nuisance to all. Problem is, he’s a nice guy, a New Age hippie who just wants to get along. You’ve met the type. They’re kind of innocent, a little too honest for their own good - which spells triple trouble here - and only want peace and love forever and ever. But except for his mom, also a daffy character, Ned just gets in the way of everyone, such as his neurotic sisters,’ business. This movie is a great send up of New Ageism, contemporary East Coast lifestyles, and New York urban angst….Next was Beautiful Girls (1996 Ted Demme), a mistitled movie if ever there was one. It should have been called Down Home Jerks. Timothy Hutton as Willie takes the Greyhound from NYC back home to Massachusetts and meets up with old friends, virtually all colossal, shall we say, jerks. The movie is formulaic with one structured scene after another – all kind of reminiscent of the TV sitcom Cheers - where there are the usual clichéd storylines taking place in roadhouse bars, where characters drink too much, do their women wrong, and generally act like, well, jerks. It’s all wasted on a good cast such as Matt Dillon, Martha Plimpton, Uma Thurman, Mira Sorvino, and a young typically edgy Natalie Portman, with Rosie O’Donnell getting the best lines. But the real star is the ubiquitous pickup truck with snow shovel attached, plowing people’s driveways, in this winter in nowhere New England…..Earlier I watched a couple of classics. There was Don’t Trust Your Husband aka An Innocent Affair (1949 Lloyd Bacon) with Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll. It’s a screwball comedy of misunderstandings over a husband’s whereabouts as he tries to nail down a big account. His wife sets a spy on him. The miscues snowball into a crescendo until the very end. These kind of movies are always delightful…..Born Yesterday (1950 George Cuckor) with Judy Holliday and William Holden is the female version of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and the political version of Pygmalion. Holden, a journalist, meets Holliday, a crime syndicate’s supposedly dimwit broad, and proceeds to educate her. Holliday’s performance is glistening.

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