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The Punk Singer (2013)
"I'm your worst nightmare come to life! I'm a girl who you can't shut up!"
"I'm your worst nightmare come to life! I'm a girl who you can't shut up!" On an old home video in a tiny living room, a woman screams about pain, feminism, and the aggression of men in Olympia, Washington, in 1991. It's the voice of Kathleen Hanna, who will front groundbreaking punk band Bikini Kill and feminist party band Le Tigre, help launch the Riot Grrrl movement, inspire a mainstream grunge rock scene dominated by men, and courageously and emphatically serve as the mouthpiece for every girl who thought she could only whisper things in her bedroom.
Over 20 years later, Hanna is finally given her day in rock history in director Sini Anderson's award-winning documentary THE PUNK SINGER. The origin stories this born leader, third wave feminist icon, and ultimate low-fi artist are brought to life through archival footage, intimate interviews, and commentaries by Kim Gordon, Carrie Brownstein, Ann Powers, Adam Horovitz, and former bandmates. Hanna's in-your-face activismthrough lyrics, zines, and manifestosmoved women to the front, literally and figuratively. Two decades later, Hanna is still ripping down barriers of music and gender and art, still proudly saying "Stay out of my way!"
Eat Pray Love (2010)
The greatest emotion I felt from the film was hunger (for Italian pizza), thirst (for Italian wine)
I loved the book. I thought Julia Roberts as Liz was fantastic casting. The trailer looked awesome. I smiled every time I saw it. Turns out, I loved everything about this movie except the movie.
Long story short, it's all of the arc of the book, without any of the passion. While never horrible, this film simply made me feel nothing.
I found the book soulful, moving, even transformative at times. The greatest emotion I felt from the film was hunger (for Italian pizza), thirst (for Italian wine), and an occasional dizziness due to director Ryan Murphy's apparent recent discovery of how to "pan." It was laughable camera-work throughout the first 45 minutes, and occasionally throughout.
The first 1/2 hour of the film was almost unbearably bad, even though the first section of the book was amongst my favorites. Perhaps someone who did not read the book could enjoy this movie, but I somehow doubt it. One time Liz made a joke, that was a nice break from the feeling of being in a lukewarm bathtub for 2 1/2 hours. Not unpleasant, just meh.
Instead of finding Liz intelligent and thoughtful, she seemed selfish, boring, and obsessed with men. Instead of finding spirituality, she seemed vapid. When the character becomes shallow, a film centered around that character becomes a throw away. Maybe I'll just watch the trailer again.
Charming, but uneven
Elizabethtown stars Orlando Bloom as Cameron Crowe's typical protagonist: a man at a crossroads in his life of family, love, and career (Think Jerry Maguire, Say Anything, etc.). A pioneering shoe designer whose pinnacle creation has just failed spectacularly, Drew Baylor's (Bloom) life goes from bad to worse when he soon learns of a family tragedy which requires him to travel to Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Along the way Drew meets bubbly flight attendant Claire (Kirsten Dunst), whose gratingly cheery antics eventually soften the morose young man, and help him on his odyssey to self-discovery.
As usual, Crowe creates an engaging plot which aptly balances comedy and drama and does a great job of integrating the soundtrack into the film. However, it's everywhere else that the film is just ... lacking.
Orlando Bloom, who is known almost solely for his roles in fantasy and/or dated pieces (Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven ...) feels completely out of place in this modern-day hyper-American tale. His accent is mediocre at best, and he seems like a fragile little pretty boy rather than a flawed character one can identify with. And while we know the direct motivation for his actions, it seems as if after two hours we still know very little about Drew the man, and his emotional background. Dunst's Claire is even less filled out than her male counterpart; a 2-dimensional distraction who becomes a major part of Drew's life, although we know nothing about her motivations as a character of her own. (speaking of mediocre accents, look out for her southern accent that disappears 4 minutes into her on screen time).
Susan Sarandon as Drew's mother Hollie and Judy Greer as sister Heather perform well with the material they're given, but the characters are sidelined early on, and never really make it onto center stage (barring a late scene with Sarandon that is amusing but very out of place).
Throughout, the film is just uneven. Scenes are strung together haphazardly, and it seems as if Crowe couldn't decide on one theme, or even a point to the 2 hours plus of footage, so he just through it all in together and hoped for the best.
A one-man show riding on the back of a miscast Bloom, Elizabethtown ends up being an occasionally entertaining saga memorable only for its wasted potential.
The Prince & Me (2004)
Prince & Me - Let it Be
A movie snob would brush past the latest Julia Stiles romantic comedy and immediately dismiss Prince and Me for the outlandish premise, less-than-solid plot, and general cheese-factor.
A movie snob I am not.
I love the questionable arc of Dirty Dancing, the absurdity of Miss Congeniality. Their implausibility can be overcome due to a combination of variables, all delicately balanced to make the kind of weepy, feel-good, "I believe in love" sort of film that we treasure, despite the guilt of adoring such an incredulous film.
That said, Prince and Me was not a good movie. Not at all. It's not just the inconsistencies of the film - A thanksgiving in Wisconsin where one can comfortably walk around in minimal clothing, a Denmark where one cabby speaks Danish and the rest of the country is fluent in English - these things can be ignored if the rest of the film is competent. The Austrians in the Sound of Music had impeccable British accents and that film is timeless.
For those not aware, the film is a general "star-crossed lovers" type of scenario, complete with not-so-subtle Shakespearean parallels. Edward Valdemar Dangaard (Luke Malby) is the bad-boy Prince of Denmark, royally gifted at landing in the tabloids for various rich-boy indiscretions. Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles)is the dedicated pre-med student, so involved in her
academic desires that time for a man is oh-so-unlikely.
Unfortunately, this movie aims only to reach the status of "typical" and fails to accomplish even this. The general arc of the romantic comedy (fall in love, separate due to outside circumstance, end up in each other's arms) is followed to a T, although unevenly. The falling in love period is a bit too easy, while the big "we can't be together scene" is abrupt, and solved soon-after without any circumstances having changed in between.
Stiles is as effective as ever, but the "I'm hard as nails, but soft as a marshmallow on the inside" bit is getting a bit old. Relative newcomer Luke Malby is adorable, but little else. To be fair though, neither was given much to work with in the one-dimensional world of Martha Coolidge's script.
A romantic comedy you'll see done ten more times, and often ten times better, pass on Prince and Me.