International Moves and Movies
By Darlene Lewis
Having returned recently from Espana, where I drank many glasses of tinto and ate sundry platos de tapas, as well as sat captive in many planes, buses and trains, I have viewed a fair sampling of the latest as well as classic Hollywood product, mostly dubbed into Castillian, and henceforth offer some reflections. My general impression of what I have seen, which largely includes the romantic comedy species of entertainment, is: White people need to pry the sticks out of their holes.
Return to Me: This David Duchovny/Minnie Driver "charmer" starts out from the ass end of the barrel, as encapsulated by the credit "Written and Directed by Bonnie Hunt," so I pulled off my headphones, put on my own, listened to Curtis Mayfield and watched the brown Spanish countryside roll by. I could still glimpse the film from the corner of my eye, however, and distinguished, in quick succession, that David Duchovny loves his wife as evidenced by them dancing cheek to cheek in evening wear; D.D.'s wife loves animals because she and a chimp press palms through a window and the wife dies early in the film because D.D. comes home from above-mentioned formal event covered in blood. At the site of Carroll O'Connor, R.I.P., I regained some interest, redonned my headphones and caught the word "operacion," which correlated with scenes of surgeons rushing through corridors holding coolers. The plot was easy enough to make out from this point on, with or without Spanish-dubbed dialogue: Wife's heart transplanted into Minnie Driver, D.D. and M.D. fall in love by coincidence, the heart secret is revealed to both stars, they freak out, M.D. travels to Italy but can't stop thinking about D.D., they reunite, she gobs his knob, he offers her a hot plate, happily ever after.
The Wedding Planner: Take above plot, except turn D.D. into Matthew McCaunaghy (how the fuck do you spell that name), the wife/girlfriend stays alive, turn M.D. into Jennifer Lopez, and you have the same story, minus Carroll O'Connor, plus a sexier female lead. M.M. and J.L. nearly get together, don't but it's all good, then J.L. learns M.M. is engaged to her co-worker in the wedding planning business, the two stars really love each other, however, so there's misunderstanding, embarrassing situations, true feelings are spilled and the kiss that's interrupted at the start of the film (at an outdoor movie festival somewhere in Golden Gate Park) is consummated in the last scene. J.L. gives M.M. a butt-plug two-fer, then a hummer. I watched this flying from Munich to San Francisco, so when the dialogue got too cutesy, which it often did, I pulled off my headphones and gazed at the alien frozen wastes of Greenland in wonder. When that got old, I would shift my attention back to J.L. proving she can do slapstick. What I got out of the film is, despite all the hype, J.L. is actually beautiful, and I still can't stand M.M. Amazingly bad overall, however. You'd think someone would call bullshit on the rote dialogue and stupid, obvious jokes, but hey, who am I? Some bitch crammed into a metal tube zooming at 500 miles per hour over the North Atlantic. I'll shut up.
The Family Man: The only genuinely good film out of the bunch, although I must admit I did not have great expectations for it and only glimpsed at the screen for the first 20 minutes without headphones and frequently examined Nova Scotia's iceberg-laden coastline instead of watching Nicholas Cage abandon Tea Leoni as young lovers. Jump 10 years later, N.C. is an asshole Manhattan businessman, single, screwing trophy girlfriends in his black leather-festooned apartment. A hold-up that he runs into at a liquor store leads to some magical realism bullshit, which leads to N.C. waking up the next morning in bed with T.L. in suburban New Jersey with two kids, house, working as a tire salesman for T.L.'s dad. As if he hadn't abandoned T.L. a decade ago! As if they had married and domesticized instead! This is where I shut the cabin window and put on my headphones and paid attention. It turned out to be a well-acted, moving film and almost made my cynical eyes discharge tears into the pressurized air. But I'm biased. N.C. is the most fascinating-to-watch actor around, and T.L. makes my 'nads sing, that is if I had 'nads.
Some early-80s film starring Andrew McCarthy and Morgan Fairchild: I only caught the last 30 minutes but felt like I was receiving some alien transmission from Videopolis. A.M.'s hair is wonderful, a marvel, feathered, long in the back and fanning over his brow like a fern. M.F. is bitchy and Toys 'R' Us shiny as usual. I entered the plot as A.M. introduces M.F. to some handsome biker hunk at a bar. M.F. exclaims "Mios Dios" for some reason, then the next scene shows young people packing and moving boxes to the dismay of M.F. and the final scene takes place at a pool surrounded by a crowd. The hunk walks up to the pool looking extra handsome in a tuxedo, and the crowd cheers enthusiastically. A.M. pumps his fist victoriously. M.F. offers an "Oh, Andrew, how come you have to be right all the time?" grin. Then a guy in a Speedo climbs to the highest high dive and jumps off, twirling, all that shit. The crowd cheers. The hunk smiles handsomely. A.M. shouts "Yeah!" Freeze frame. Matthew Wilder or some such person starts rocking. Credits. Angels with flaming swords throw me out of Eden. I'm in a windowless room in San Sebastian, Spain instead, not in San Diego or wherever with go-getting young A.M. or the bitch we love to hate M.F. I hit the streets, drink $1 glasses of beer, eat tapas, stare at the moon shimmering over La Bahia de La Concha.
Miss Congeniality: This is what they call a "high concept" movie, which is a bit of a misnomer because the concepts in these movies are usually very low, easily communicated in five or less words. This movie's concept: Tomboy cop becomes pretty girl. It's funny in the first hour but goes on and on, plying on the Hollywood bullshit moments such as heartfelt memories of childhood trauma, recycled "Psycho" subplot involving Candace Bergen and her movie son, blah blah. I took my headphones off as we neared Denver when the film refused to end and instead busied itself in making everyone happy, even after the climactic violent event. I climbed over my row neighbors and made my way up the aisle to piss. The airplane toilet roared violently beneath my thighs when I flushed it. I checked out my zits in the mirror, washed my hands thoroughly and paced back up the aisle to my seat, sat down, exhaled, inhaled, let my mind wander to questions of self-identity and the subjective nature of art and finally looked back at the screen. And wouldn't you know it? The movie was still grinding on with Sandra Bullock saying something straight from the heart and sincere to her fellow beauty pageant contestants whom she had ridiculed before. Everyone on the screen hugged. Then, S.B. good-naturedly wrapped up her ambiguous romance with the male lead, then the final kicker joke, and thank God, the thing finally went away. Jesus Christ, wake me up when Hollywood gets some balls, will ya?
Darlene Lewis is a regular contributor to Built Boyle and has also written for Hot Dog! and Dynamite! She lives in Woodland Hills, California.