Advertisements

Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Dolly Wells

I Do…Until I Don’t (2017)

Marriage blows, get it?

Vivian (Dolly Wells) is a jaded filmmaker who believes that marriage is an outmoded concept that needs a reboot. Hoping to prove her theory, she begins to interview three couples at various stages in their relationships.

Even though it wasn’t a perfect movie, Lake Bell’s directorial debut, In a World…, proved that she had something more on her mind than just humor. It was a small, somewhat subtle look at women trying their best to get by, sisters trying to connect, and something of a showbiz-satire about how the men always get by, and the women are forced to stand back. It was a messy movie, but its ambitions and its cast was so likable and charming, it was hard to fully hate.

It’s why I Do…Until I Don’t feels like it’s made from somebody else entirely. Rather than being a funny, relatively heartwarming look at a bunch of different people, like her first movie was, Bell’s latest is so over-the-top, silly, and random, it almost feels like she made it on a whim. It’s as if she had been waiting so long to get a movie off of the ground, didn’t have a perfectly fresh idea in her head, but stumbled upon a bunch of money and thought that something would work anyway, regardless of how crummy the material was.

Oh man. How they’ve been in so much better.

And that’s where it all comes down to: The movie just isn’t funny.

It attempts to poke fun at marriage, its norms, and the sanctity of it all, but mostly comes down to making fun of a bunch of characters we never really get to know or care about, because they never come close to being human. They’re all goofy caricatures who are made so that Bell can set them up for whatever unfunny bits and pieces of comedy she chooses. It’s a shame to be picking on her, too, because in mostly everything I’ve ever seen her in, she’s constantly lovable and fun – but none of that shows here.

Not with her writing, her directing, or hell, especially not her acting. In fact, Bell’s performance is probably the worst as she totally over-does this character’s constant neurotic ticks, with all of the stuttering, flinching, and turning away. It’s like she’s doing a Woody Allen impersonation, but only saw one movie and decided to just roll with it. Same goes to Ed Helms as her husband here who, does what he can, but just feels like a typically dull husband who wants something more out of life and can’t quite perform in the sack. It’s actually a perfect role for Helms, but because he’s played it so many times before and there’s not much depth to this actual character, it doesn’t wholly work.

Bring back Doll & Em!

Instead, it feels like he’s slumming. And the same could be said for just about everybody else.

Dolly Wells plays the documentary film-maker who gets maybe one or two laughs, because her character seems like the voice-of-reason/bystander to all of this, but then she just ends up being a villain that the movie feels the need to bash; Amber Heard and Wyatt Cenac play a hippie-couple who are so formulaic in their ways, it already feels dated by the first instance we see of them; and Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen, try as they might, seem like they deserve a much better movie. They play an older couple who are running through their own little issues and trying to figure out what the other wants with their rest of their lives and it’s only here, in this one subplot, where it feels like Bell is touching at something interesting and compelling. But then, she drops the ball when she decides to focus on all of the other characters and their wild hi-jinx that, honestly, aren’t all that wild, nor all that funny.

They’re just annoying and ridiculous and it makes you wish that Bell stick with whatever sort of inspiration she had from her first flick.

Consensus: Even with a solid ensemble of likable people, I Do…Until I Don’t squanders all potential with a sitcom-y premise and even more ridiculous jokes and gags that go nowhere.

3 / 10

They’re like hippies, but in 2017. Ha! Ha!

Photos Courtesy of: The Film Arcade

Advertisements

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

It’s like the Walking Dead. But with people who clearly bathe.

In the 19th century, a mysterious plague turns the English countryside into a war zone. On one side, there’s the rich and powerful human beings who have their balls, drink their tea, and get on with life as if there’s no issues, whereas on the other, there’s flesh-eating, walking and sometimes, talking, zombies who are always hungry for their next meal. Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) lives on the side of the humans, obviously and is something of a master of martial arts and weaponry, who not only finds herself interested in, but joined with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), in fightin against the zombies. While, in all honesty, Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy, she respects his skills as a zombie killer and finds that appreciation soon turning into affection – something that neither party thinks they are quite ready for. But while these two are busy figuring out if they’re going to wipe out all of the zombies together, or not, there’s Mr. Wickham (Jack Huston), who is trying his absolute hardest to figure out a way to live side-by-side with the zombies, and not have there be any issues or harm done to either side. He too wants Elizabeth, but also has something of a troubled history with Darcy and his family that carries into his life today.

Uh oh. Somebody's now gone and pissed-off Cinderella!

Uh oh. Somebody’s now gone and pissed-off Cinderella!

Let’s be honest: A movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was never going to work. Even the book itself, doesn’t quite work. Sure, it’s a clever joke – Jane Austen story that just so happens to feature zombies in between all of the kissing and lavish parties – but it’s one that can also grow tired, if you don’t find interesting, or clever ways to keep it worth telling, again and again. That’s the issue with the book, just as it’s the issue with the movie; there’s an idea that the movie wants to have it both ways, but also doesn’t know if it wants to settle on any one side in particular.

For one, it clearly wants to be a Jane Austen adaptation, where the heart, the romance, and the tragedy is felt through every frame of the picture. But, at the same time, it also wants to be a silly, rumpus and sometimes, funny, zombie flick where people all dressed-up in 18th century attire go around, slaying zombies everywhere they look. Both movies on their own can work, but together, they just don’t mesh well and honestly, director Burr Steers has a difficult time of adjusting between the two stories.

Is it necessarily his fault? Not really.

As I said before, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was never going to really work as a movie; it doesn’t really have any clear-cut audience that it would appeal to most, and for those people who it may appeal to, will still probably find themselves wanting more. While there’s plenty of romance, and kissing, and extravagant parties here, there’s not all that much zombie killing and action which, after awhile, can get to be a tad bothersome. After all, it’s a movie with “zombies” in the title, which makes it seem as if it’s going to take that very seriously and do everything it can to deliver on its promise.

But unfortunately, it doesn’t. Instead, it just constantly has a battle with itself as to whether or not it wants to be a period piece, as well as a zombie action-flick. Which isn’t to say that the movie takes itself too seriously; there’s quite a few moments of actual hilarity, but they’re mostly all reliant on Austen’s actual source material and not the added bonus of having zombies involved with the story as well. Sure, you can’t be mad at the movie for wanting to tell its timeless tale, but you can’t also expect the movie to be all about that side and forget about the whole zombie-angle too, right?

I don’t know. Either way, I think I’m losing track of my point.

Yummy.

Yummy.

The point is that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a misguided attempt at a fun, almost goofy movie. It’s neither fun, nor goofy, but instead, just boring. Steers has shown that he has a knack for comedy with flicks like Igby Goes Down and 17 Again, but when it comes to action, he seems ill-prepared and advised. The fact that we don’t get much action to begin with is a problem, but the fact that we hardly get to see any of it when it is actually happening, is also a whole other problem that makes it appear like the action was a second-thought for Steers. Maybe it was, or maybe it wasn’t, but either way, it’s hard to get enthused about a movie that doesn’t do much of anything.

Of course, the cast is here to try and save the day, but unfortunately, they too are kind of left in the cold. Lily James is bright and bubbly as Elizabeth, but after this literally being her fourth or fifth period piece in a role, I think it’s safe to say that maybe it’s time for James to shake things up. Maybe her appearance in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver will be that change-of-pace she so desperately needs, but either way, yeah, it’s time for a new gig. Same goes for Sam Riley, too, who despite showing a great deal of promise in Control, nearly a decade ago, hasn’t quite shown any bit of charm or personality in the subsequent years. Maybe that’s too much to ask for, but he’s quite dull here and it really makes me wonder if it’s just him, or the terrible script he’s given to work with.

It’s probably the script, but hey, I’ve got to ask these questions, people!

There are others like Charles Dance, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, and Lena Headey who all show up and their stuffy outfits, who all do fine, but it’s really Matt Smith who brings some fun and excitement to the proceedings. In fact, had Pride and Prejudice and Zombies been a lot more like his character, it would have been a much clearer, and more exciting movie. But instead, it’s a misguided attempt on cashing in on a trend that, honestly, seemed like it died nearly a decade ago.

Am I wrong?

Consensus: There’s two movies within Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and none of them quite work whether together, or apart, making it a very uneven and dull film, that tries to have it both ways, but ultimately, fails at having it either way.

3 / 10 

Jane Austen always did love bad-ass chicks.

Jane Austen always did love bad-ass chicks.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

45 Years (2015)

A lot can happen in 45 years.

Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) has been with her husband, Geoff (Tom Courtenay), for many years – 45 to be exact. So that’s why, after a slight mishap five years ago, they’re getting ready and prepping-up to celebrate the 45th anniversary of their wedding, with a big ball full of friends, booze, food, and dancing. And while it’s a very joyous time for the couple, something from Geoff’s past comes back to life and not only disrupts his life, but also Kate’s. All of a sudden, a lover from Geoff’s past has been found dead in the Alps, which leaves Geoff wondering just where or what his life would have been, had he decided to stick with her and not get married to Kate. As a result of this, Kate herself starts to question her own marriage and life with Geoff, realizing that she may not be the ultimate woman and also trying to come to terms with the fact that this is not only the man she’s spent a huge portion of her life with, but probably will for the rest of it.

Men are always focusing on food, whereas the women are always spent looking out into the air.

Men are always focusing on food, whereas the women are always spent looking out into the air.

There’s really not a lot going on in 45 Years, except for Charlotte Rampling and everything that she puts into it. It’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to film over the past decades, to know and understand that Rampling is a great actress. It doesn’t matter what she shows up in, for no matter how long or short, Rampling comes, she conquers, and she reminds you why great actresses like her still exist.

That’s why it’s probably no surprise she got nominated for an Oscar (for the record, we hope she proves these prognosticators wrong.)

However, it’s not just her who makes the movie great, as writer/director Andrew Haigh does what he seemed to do with Weekend and the cancelled-too-soon Looking, and that’s give us simple, small tales about simple, small people, and yet, not make them simple. Rather than just giving us a story about a wife and husband trying to connect after being together for nearly 45 years, Haigh takes it up one notch and gives us a reason to see why these characters deserve our attention and thoughts. While it’s a bit silly that the recent news of a person’s death is what causes all of these issues so coincidentally, it still works because Haigh takes his time with these character, this situation, and most importantly, their lives.

After all, while watching 45 Years, we never forget the fact that we’re watching two characters, who have been living and loving one another for so very long, are still doing the same thing. Obviously though, they’re older, more tired, and perhaps, more bored with one another. However, rather than making all of this seem like a slog to wade through, Haigh makes sure the smallest bit of detail catches our attention and have us think, even when it seems like nothing’s happening at all. These two could just be sitting there, having tea, talking about past times, certain people they do, or don’t like, and/or just doing nothing at all but staring into space, and still, there’s something interesting about watching it all happen.

In a way, it’s as if we’re watching a documentary of two people who have been together for so very long, just live life.

This seems to be the exact feeling Haigh is aiming for and it works make this situation, as well as these characters, more relatable and universal. It’s interesting that Haigh, someone who was pegged as “the next big voice for Queer cinema”, decided that he didn’t want to be pigeon-holed and give his own take on a relationship that, quite frankly, anyone could have. It’s also worth noting that it’s great to see a movie about two near-70 characters, who love one another and aren’t really doing much other than just discussing their past and soon-to-be future. While most studios feel as if these aren’t the kinds of stories that get butts into the seats, they’re still probably the most honest and, above all else, sad, because well, this is how we’re all going to end up one day, if we’re lucky.

Whether or not it makes money, shouldn’t really matter, but such is the case as to why we don’t really get many movies like 45 Years.

And yet, at the same time, the movie still comes back to Charlotte Rampling and what she’s able to do with this performance as Kate Mercer.

Oh, Char. Take it easy, girl.

Oh, Char. Take it easy, girl.

From the very beginning, we don’t know much about Kate, other than that she loves her husband, her house, and her dog, and that’s about it. But as time goes on and the movie develops, we start to realize that she’s in desperate need in something out of her life; even though she’s older and has seen all that she’s needed to see, she still feels underdeveloped in some way, shape, or fashion. That’s why, when this tragedy from her husband’s past comes back into the fray, she doesn’t really know what to do or make sense of, so therefore, she tries her hardest to depend on herself for just about anything she needs.

And Rampling, even with the smallest look in her eye, tilt of her head, or walk in a general direction, she makes you think. You never know full well what’s going on in this character’s head and it’s hard to imagine what a lesser-actress would have done with such a non-showy role such as this, but that’s why we have actresses like Rampling to remind us why she deserves every role she gets. It should be noted that Tom Courtenay does a solid job as her husband, too, but really, he’s here to frustrate and anger Kate, as well as she he should. In a way, he sort of becomes unlikable and unsympathetic, but then you get to thinking, too: He’s also got to be thinking of how it feels to have spent the past 45 years with this one woman and one woman only.

In some ways, it feels like 45 Years should have been, or at least, could have been that movie. Though it’s great to see the movie focus in on Kate and her issues, it still would have been great to know and understand just what it was that Geoff was going through, especially considering his situation is all the more tragic. Perhaps we would have had a longer movie? Or maybe, even a better movie?

Who knows?

All I know is that, even though she won’t win, Charlotte Rampling definitely makes the case for the Best Actress Oscar.

Consensus: With thoughtful, heartfelt writing, and a superb performance from Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years is a slow, but interesting look at marriage, as complicated as it may be.

8 / 10

45 years? Maybe too much time.

45 years? Maybe too much time.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire