Posted by: greercn | January 17, 2010

It’s Complicated, Nine and sex&drugs&rock&roll

Oh dear. It’s not complicated at all, but quite simple. “It’s Complicated”  wishes us all to go back to the 1950s when men were men and women were women and we all knew where we were. Modern life and complex relationships? Nah, forget freedom and other dull stuff. Women should cook and men should change light bulbs. This movie ought to be called “It Would Be Simpler, If Men Were In Charge” (and if women weren’t so darned emotional, too).

I really have to be careful. I saw this for free, I didn’t look at my watch and it’s not the worst romcom I have seen in the last year. Meryl Streep looks lovely and sounds intelligent and is friends with everyone she ever met, ever. Alec Baldwin was married to her, had a mid-life crisis, but he’s better now. And nobody owns the role of bewildered guy trying to do the right thing quite like Steve Martin.

There’s a scene that sums it all up. If you think it’s cute, go see it. Those women of a sensitive and feminist disposition should look away now and rejoin me at the next paragraph. After sex. Baldwin (doesn’t “Sex And The City” use that noun as “cute”?) touches Streep in a personal place and drawls “home sweet home”. Yuk. Even dogs don’t need to have ownership papers any more, right?

On the plus side – I do want to keep my freebies coming – Nancy Meyer’s film is about older people having a great time and looking good. Bad health has no place in this movie and every divorce is okay – just a great learning experience. The houses and gardens look terrific and everybody has nice clothes, hair and teeth.  

But there is a deeply unattractive idea at the centre of this movie about undoing the gains women have fought hard to win. Am I the only person who feels unsettled by the sub-text of this movie, which owes so much to the Moral Majority and so little to independent thought? I hope others felt the same way, just a little or I’ll just paddle off in my slippers and bake brownies. Didn’t I earn the right to buy brownies? Sigh.

“Nine” is the same sound as the German word “nein”, which means “no”. The clue is in the title. Don’t see it. It’s awful.

I adore “8 1/2”, even though it’s a tad pretentious. But this is so ill-conceived and executed a remake that I found myself playing with the popcorn rather than watching the screen. It’s a waste of a lot of great actresses. Heck, it’s a waste of Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas and I suspect, despite the evidence here, that she will be a terrific actress – in something else. I was looking forward to this and yet I started playing little countdown games on the running time, watching the second hand on my watch, willing it to move faster.  

Thoughts of just leaving entered my head, but I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm for movement, due to jet lag and brain death. Hey, that’s Penelope Cruz, I would tell myself. This will get better in a minute, said my sunny and optimistic side. It didn’t get better. It just went on and on. (Then, Penelope Cruz says “I will be waiting here, with my legs open” to Daniel Day-Lewis. Just ridiculous.)

 I was trying to remember when I had been so bored and I think it must have been long ago at an all-night committee budget meeting when politicians wouldn’t shut up and I drew little cartoons of everyone in the room on the back of 12 pages of committee papers.

Judi Dench has a line that goes “There’s nothing wrong with making people laugh a little”. “If only”, I reply. If only. Okay – the positives. The costumes and sets and cars are all gorgeous. The women are gorgeous. The men are gorgeous. The music is okay, if conventional. Take the bits apart and there is nothing to hate here, really.

Musicals are always risky on the big screen. If you liked the movie of “Chicago”, you may like this. I loved the show but hated the movie. Maybe I just don’t get Rob Marshall’s musicals. I won’t attempt another 118 minutes of a musical he makes a movie of, unless my life expectancy is suddenly doubled.

I got to think a great deal about how popcorn forms little yellow bubbles from butter and how some bits melt easily and some bits get stuck and need more chewing. If you do see it, bring something to play with, because you may need it. The critic sitting next to me snored through the whole thing (which was more entertaining than the movie, watching his lip rise and fall) and then gave it a great review. Let’s be charitable and assume he saw it again? Or can view discerningly while snoring? 

My third freebie of the week was “sex&drugs&rock&roll”. Yes, computer programmer spelling has now come to the movies, big time. Ian Dury is one of my favourites and at least three of his songs track my 20s and bring a smile to my face, every time.

The authentic pub performance and viewing experience is here and Andy Serkis does a great job, even though he looks nothing like Dury. Ray Winstone is terrific as Dury’s dad, although a little disconnected from the film. Mat Whitecross’ vision of Dury’s music catches those pub performances and reminds me of the joy, noise and physical discomfort of seeing Dury and many others perform live.

It tries to say something serious about Dury’s disability and misses out on this, I fear, but Serkis’ brave performance catches the humour of the subject. If you loved the music, see it and enjoy it.

The movie I liked best this week was on TV. “Blue Crush” is about beautiful surfers and magical waves. It’s one of my guilty pleasures and I always say I will watch just 10 minutes but end up watching the whole thing. Can I appeal to someone out there in movie-making land to remake “Blue Crush”? Please?

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