Two business executives--one an avowed misogynist, the other recently emotionally wounded by his love interest--set out to exact revenge on the female gender by seeking out the most innocent, uncorrupted girl they can find and ruining her life.
The world's greatest detective Daryl Zero aided by his associate Steve Arlo investigates a complex and mysterious case of blackmail and missing keys for shady tycoon Gregory Stark who is less than forthcoming about what is really happening!
Theater instructor Jerry starts an affair with Mary, and that starts a chain of events that affect their respective partners Terri and Barry and other characters in the film, creating a web of relationships.Written by
Outside of the six main characters, no one else plays a substantial role in the film. All the other actors are bit players. See more »
The guy's practically my best friend...
Oh, don't even fucking use that! Alright? Best friend? That is bullshit! Try saying friend when you're down there lapping between his wife's legs. See how it sounds then.
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This is Neil LaBute's more lavish but no less vitriolic follow-up to "In the Company of Men". Whereas that film had a documentary sense of realism to it, this one feels very much like a play. Although nothing mystical happens, there's a sense of surreality that coats this film. From the opening music, an oddly appealing version of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" played on four cellos by a quartet called Apocalyptica, to the main titles, which are superimposed over a sedate Alex Katz print called "The Cocktail Party", we enter a world of wealth and culture. Only under the glossy surface beats a soulless heart.
Witness an early dinner scene. Two couples meet at one's swanky townhouse, exchange pleasantries and share glasses of wine. The women are smartly dressed. The men are too (one of them laments a spill on his new doeskin jacket). But they never connect in a tangible way. Until, that is, an offer of infidelity is confidentially proffered. The movie uses this moment to jump off into a world where everyone (but one) appears stable but all are ineffectual and socially retarded. This point is further driven home by a series of scenes set in an art gallery, where each character uses the same verbatim small talk with an artist's assistant to expose significant aspects of their character. They're artificial moments, but delicately set up the tone of the film. The cast is uniformly excellent, if not overly mannered, which further helps create the feeling that you're watching a play rather than a film. Ben Stiller's character represents this the best, not just because he's a drama professor. He is erudite and articulate when "performing", such as when lecturing his students, or giving a tour of a museum. But when he gets into social situations, Stiller fails to complete a single one of his thoughts. Most of his sentences trail off, ending with the question "You know?" or just a resigned sigh. It's an evocative (if a touch shallow) character trait, but damn if it doesn't get annoying by film's end. I had this intense desire to slap Ben good.
Aaron Eckhart sports a $2 haircut, a cheesy moustache, and a bulging gut. He's playing a character exactly opposite to his toxic Chad from "In the Company of Men", and it's amazing that one man can pull off both roles. Eckhart has proven himself to be a marvelous chameleon-like actor, easily filling out the pathetic and needy sap LaBute has written for him here.
Jason Patric gets the toxic role this time, playing a misogynistic obstetrician (he's prone to playing football with a model of a fetus). His stories of extreme behaviour "amuse" his friends. One involves sending a retributive note to an ex-girlfriend on doctor's stationary, informing her that she may be HIV-positive. Another, in the scene that the film will be forever known for, involves high school hijinks in the gym shower with a bullied boy named Timmy. Patric wrings every bit of wickedness from this story, told in one incredibly long close-up take. It's a powerful little moment that leaves the audience (not to mention the other characters in the scene) exclaiming, "What the heck was that?"
Catherine Keener, so energetic in "Being John Malkovich", is much more subdued here. But you can feel her frustration bubbling up beneath the service (she's Stiller's girlfriend, and is as fed up with him as the audience is). Keener is a very self-aware actress, knowing when to go full throttle and when to pull back. Hers is not the showiest role in the film, but it ranks right up there with the most memorable.
Nastassja Kinski is used the least of the six main actors (author's note: Come to think of it, there are only six speaking parts in the whole movie, making the theatrical nature of the piece even more profound). And it's probably for the best. She is fetching, but doesn't bring much more to the role than quiet neediness.
Amy Brenneman plays Eckhart's wife, and has an affair with Stiller. She stays nervous and reticent throughout the movie, never giving in to her boredom or frustration even when the moment calls for a little blow-up. In the beginning she passes for the innocent moral centre of the film, but by the end she is the one most corrupted. Brenneman does well playing both sides of this coin.
Writer/Director LaBute appears to have learned much since "Men". He's more confident using close-ups to get in his characters' faces. And the film looks luscious bathed in warm autumnal hues. The story, such as it is, is told through a series of vignettes, each tellingly juxtaposed with the next to subtly portray the differences between men and women. A scene of three women talking about sex over lunch is followed by one of three men in a steam room pondering the same subject, in a cruder manner. And though there is no real narrative thrust, the individual scenes themselves are propulsive enough to keep the viewer interested.
1998 100 minutes Rated: R CC.
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