HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Twitter:
@digby56
@DavidOAtkins

emails:
Digby:
digbysez at gmail
David:
isnospoon at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
AmericanPoliticsJournal
Smirking Chimp
CJR Daily
consortium news

Blog-o-rama

Eschaton
BagNewsNotes
Daily Kos
Political Animal
Driftglass
Firedoglake
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Scoobie Davis
Echidne
Electrolite
Americablog
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
oilprice.com
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
BartCop
Juan Cole
Rising Hegemon
alicublog
Unqualified Offerings
Alas, A Blog
RogerAiles
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
skippy the bush kangaroo
uggabugga
Crooked Timber
discourse.net
Amygdala
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
The Agonist


Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Saturday, September 28, 2013

 
Saturday Night at the Movies

The man show: Rush and Don Jon

By Dennis Hartley
Rush: Mano a mano
















I'll admit up front that I don't know from the sport of Formula One racing. In fact, I've never held any particular fascination for loud, fast cars (or any kind of sports, for that matter). If that makes me less than a manly man, well, I'll just have to live with that fact. However, I am fascinated by other people's fascination with competitive sport; after all, (paraphrasing one of my favorite lines from Harold and Maude) they're my species. There's certainly an impressive amount of time, effort and money poured into this peculiarly human compulsion to be the "champion" or securing the best seats for cheering one on; even if in the grand scheme of things it doesn't mean shit to a tree (to reappropriate a Jefferson Airplane lyric). So what is it that motivates a person to squeeze into the cockpit of what essentially amounts to an incendiary bomb on wheels to go screaming around tight curves and through mountain tunnels at speeds up to 350mph? Well, aside from the intense adrenaline rush, the international fame and glory, the piles of dough and the unlimited sex (alright...perhaps I haven't completely thought this through).

Apparently, back in the 70s, there was a "merciless" mano a mano sports rivalry (even sexier than the one betwixt Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky?!) involving a pair of European F1 drivers. Now, I'm taking director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan's word for it, because prior to watching the Frost/Nixon team's latest fact-based drama Rush, I had never heard of Austrian race driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) or his professional nemesis James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) who hailed from the UK. The two were a classic "oil and water" mix. Hunt was the reckless rock star type, reveling in all the hedonistic excess at his disposal. Lauda was decidedly more reserved and methodical, in both his professional and personal life. The one thing that these two men did share in common was their lofty opinions of themselves. The precise origins of the rivalry are not made 100% clear; so I assume it's your typical scenario of two males with high-T levels jockeying for the alpha position (don't the sports announcers routinely refer to the drivers whizzing around the racetrack en masse as the 'pack' ("He's pulling ahead of the pack!")?

As one might expect, there's a lot of ear-plug inducing scenes involving loud cars navigating dangerously narrow roads at suicidal rates of speed, as the two rivals chase each other on assorted Grand Prix courses all around Europe and Asia. What you might not expect, however, is the compelling dual character study that lies at the heart of the film. The "rivalry" reveals itself to be more of a relationship borne of a begrudging mutual respect; taking on an even more interesting dynamic following Lauda's near-death experience in a horrific fiery crash on the notoriously deadly Nurburgring circuit in 1976. Bruhl and Hemsworth both give excellent performances (each actor also bears an uncanny physical likeness to his respective real-life counterpart). Bruhl (who had a brief but memorable turn as a skeptical and quietly menacing SS officer in Inglourious Basterds ) is proving himself to be a subtly chameleonic character actor, and Hemsworth's  infectious energy and brash high-spirited scenery-chewing recalls a young Peter O'Toole. The excellent Alexandra Maria Lara (The Baader Meinhof Complex) plays Lauda's devoted wife Marlene, and Olivia Wilde appears as Hunt's supermodel trophy wife, Suzy.

I found Howard's film reminiscent of Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer, another "sports movie" that isn't really so much about sports per se, as it is an examination of the obsessive nature of a person who strives to be a "champion". In that 1969 character study, Robert Redford plays a talented but arrogant athlete who joins the U.S. ski team, immediately butting heads with the coach (Gene Hackman), his teammates and pretty much anyone else he comes in contact with (OK, he's a dick). Like Hunt and Lauda (at least, as they are dramatized here), the Redford character only seems truly fulfilled when he's "winning"...everything else is superfluous. I also see an interesting corollary with Howard and Morgan's previous creative collaboration, suggesting a possible diptych. The adversarial dynamic between David Frost and Richard Nixon is similar to Lauda and Hunt's. Frost was handsome, outgoing and had a rep as a "ladies man" (like Hunt) and Nixon was brooding and stand-offish, yet quietly crafty (like Lauda). Frost and Nixon circled each other warily, like two boxers vying for the champion's belt. I'm not sure how I got from Formula One to politics. Say, is there some kind of trophy for what I just did?


Don Jon: Guido a guidette















In her review of the classic 1966 film Alfie, in which Michael Caine stars as a self-styled "Cockney Don Juan" who pridefully confides his chauvinistic tenets on sex and shameless objectification of women directly to the audience, the late Pauline Kael wrote in reference to screenwriter Bill Naughton's dialogue that "[he] keeps the viewer absorbed in Alfie, the cold-hearted sexual hotshot, and his self-exculpatory line of reasoning." If you fast forward the time line from swinging 60s London to the present-day Jersey shore, trading a double-breasted suit for a wife-beater, this could double as a description of the eponymous character of Don Jon, who explains his philosophy thusly:

There's only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.

"Self exculpatory" is an understatement. Especially once Jon (played with unfettered  "fuhgettaboutit" swagger by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote and directed) really gets cooking on a breathless jag describing his love affair with internet porn. Not that he has any trouble with the ladies, mind you (his nickname stems from a seemingly effortless ability to bed a different woman every weekend, much to the wonderment and admiration of his "boys"). This may be moot to interject, but our hero may be exhibiting classic signs of sex addiction. I'm not judging; I'm just sayin'. Anyway, back to the porn. The thing is, as much as he does love the ladies, it seems that sex with a partner somehow never measures up to the online experience; he can't "lose himself" in the moment in quite the same way. Again, I risk belaboring the obvious: Is it possible that the porn addiction has given 'Don' J some unrealistic expectations about actual adult relationships?

Enter Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) a knockout beauty who responds to Jon's time-tested moves...but only up to a point. She is nobody's one-night stand; she wants to be wooed. At first, Jon responds like the proverbial deer in the headlights. This could require radical concessions, like maybe (gulp) meeting for lunch or (worse case) coffee first. What is this strange new feeling? Could it be this “love” of which people speak? And just as Jon begins to sense the paradigm shift, he meets another (more mature) woman (Julianne Moore, acting circles around everyone else) who seems to be genuinely interested in him as a person (he has no idea what to make of that). Jon's amusing Sunday confessions begin to expand beyond his typical “Bless me, Father, I masturbated 34 times this week.”

Gordon-Levitt has poured admirable effort into his directing debut, but in his over-eagerness to prove himself, he may have put a few too many eggs in the basket. On the plus side, he's assembled a great cast. In fact, some of the supporting players threaten to walk away with the film; particularly a surprisingly effective Tony Danza (yes, that Tony Danza) as Jon's father, telegraphing (with expert comic timing) how the apple hasn't fallen too far from the tree. Brie Larson (as Jon's sullen sister) steals every scene she's in-no small feat considering that she spends most of the film staring at her cell phone, until deciding to impart a few words of wisdom toward the end (it's that whole Silent Bob thing). On the down side, there are jarring tonal shifts that leave you scratching your head as to what Gordon-Levitt is trying to say at times with this (sort of) morality play/social satire hybrid. Still, I was entertained. I laughed, and almost cried (just don't tell my boys).

Saturday Night at the Movies review archives



Search Digby!