Sunday, July 8, 2012

Green Card, 1990

I've known about this movie for years. My parents (especially my mom) are fans. I generally watch movies my parents enjoy, but I never watched this one for one reason: I didn't need to. It's called Green Card and the picture on the case is a man carrying a woman over his shoulder and them both smiling. The plot is all right there: two people get married so one of them can stay in the country and they end up falling in love. Done and done.

When I sat down to watch this film, I remembered that isn't always the point of movies. So what if the plot is recycled and predictable? It's a romantic comedy - it's the same basic plot in every one. Now, romcoms aren't my favorite genre, but I like mindless entertainment on occasion. It's the details you are there to enjoy. How do they know each other? Why did the resident decide to marry the non-resident? What happens towards the end that makes it look like they're going to fall out? What happens to bring them back together? Details.

With a positive attitude, I was ready to enjoy this movie. It was hit and miss, but still - I probably liked it better than I would have had I not gone in with a positive attitude.

I'll give you the plot on this one since I imagine fewer people have seen it than Titanic. The film begins with Gerard Depardieu (Georges) and Andie MacDowell (Bronte - like Charlotte and Emily) getting married at the courthouse. Another French man who we never really find out how he knows either of them arranged it, meaning Georges and Bronte didn't know each other. I actually was a little surprised by that. I figured it would be a little more like The Proposal where the couple in question at least knew each other. Anyway, they walk out of the courthouse (or wherever it is people get married) and go their separate ways thinking they'll never have to see each other again.

"But wait!" I thought. "Don't they realize the INS will want to talk to them?" Sometimes my willful suspension of disbelief only goes so far in more realistic movies (if you call falling in love in 3 days realistic) and this was definitely pushing it.

As we follow Bronte to an interview with the board of an apartment building I decide to drop it for the time being. It's there you realize she married Georges for the apartment. The board wanted a married couple and she was married with a husband in Africa (aka somewhere in the city of New York). She gets the place and we see why she wanted it so badly. Bronte is a horticulturist and the apartment comes with a greenhouse and a rooftop garden. For a split second I thought, "that makes more sense," but it wasn't even long enough to complete that sentence in my head. I started thinking about what I would want in a living space enough to marry a complete stranger and possibly face the wrath of the INS. It took me at least half the movie to come up with something. It would be if Joss Whedon lived next to me. Or maybe Felicia Day... yeah, I'd probably do it for either one of those.

Anyway, the doorbell rings and of course it's the INS wanting to talk to Georges and Bronte together. I assume she tells them to come back later when her husband is back in the country because the next time we see her she's trying to find Georges. They actually bumped into each other at a restaurant (we assume a few days after they're married). He's the waiter and of course they have to pretend they've never seen each other since Bronte is out with her boyfriend and other friends. Georges asks Mademoiselle what she would like and follows up with, "or is it Madame?" I actually did like that line a lot. Point being, she goes to the restaurant to track him down. He goes to her apartment to meet with the two INS officials and of course completely screws up the interview, leaving the INS no choice but to have them come in for a more in-depth interview a few days later.

Panic ensues. Georges moves in for the weekend so they can get to know each other and get their story straight. They of course clash in the beginning. Bronte with her vegetarian ways and Georges with his French food.

They get to know each other a little better, take polaroids of the two of them doing things like dancing and skiing with no background but the sky so it looks legit. They go to Central Park to the giant fountain that is featured in every romcom that takes place in New York. He plants tomatoes for her, she compliments his incessant humming. They bond.

Then the night before the INS interview, Bronte's boyfriend comes back into town early. They go out and Georges is alone on her sofa when the two of them walk into the apartment. You know how it goes, they're making out, she's saying he has to go, he doesn't want to. Georges is clearly not enjoying their weird banter and gets up and yells at the boyfriend saying to get his hands of his wife. Now, this kind of comes out of nowhere. Yes, they had been bonding, but it didn't seem like they had gotten to the point where Georges would react all possessive and jealous like that. But, the movie is almost over and things need to move along. Bronte kicks him out for ruining her relationship and he spends the night in the hallway. She lets him in in the morning, they argue, realize they're late for the appointment, and run to generic government building with a long wait. 

They're both interviewed separately and this is where they both realize how madly in love they are with each other. They talk about how wonderful the other one is, little quirks they have grown to love, etc. Then the questions get more specific (what color is her toothbrush type of thing) and these are things they have each written down and studied. Georges is asked what facial cream Bronte uses and he can't remember it exactly. After giving it a couple shots that would have been close enough he says, "that's the only answer I can't remember." Cover blown, he asks the INS agent to leave Bronte alone. Bronte and Georges walk out, say their goodbyes with Bronte thinking all is well, and part ways.

I can't remember if this happened a couple days later or the same day, but Bronte goes to the cafe where they first met right before their wedding and sits down apparently hoping he'll show up. He does and they look and each other through the window. For a long time. Really, it's maybe 30 seconds or so that the camera is just going back and forth between the two of them and they're just staring at each other. It's weird. She gets up and they meet each other at the door and kiss for the first time. It looks awkward with his gargantuan nose, but I've never actually kissed anyone with a nose that big so maybe it isn't as awkward as I'm thinking it is. But it looks like it is. She sees the INS agent behind Georges and freaks out a little. He says he'll write and that she should go to France as soon as she can. And it ends.

Sorry if that synopsis sucked because it's so long. Maybe as this project progresses I'll get better at getting to the point quicker. It might be alright though, cause there's not a lot I want to say about this movie. I did end up getting a bit bored somewhere in the middle (there were a few moments I found humorous) and the ending as I said was just kind of weird.

My biggest problem with this, and any other movie like it, is the fact that we're watching two adults fall madly in love with each other over a matter of days. 48 hours. What adult fantasizes about that? There's not a cell in my body that looks at that kind of situation and says, yeah, I get why that happened. Or maybe I'm just a little too focused on details when I date someone. Thoughts periodically pop up like, what are they like when they're stressed out? Are they a secret bigot? How do they feel about pickles? Will they be okay if I spend an entire day watching Buffy? Things you can't really figure out in two days.

This is something that's pushed on to women (and men) starting at a very young age. It's love at first sight for Ariel and Eric, Aurora and Phillip, Snow White and... Charming (?), and it keeps going. Christmas in Connecticut, The Silmarillion (yep, I'm that kind of nerd), Sense and Sensibility, Twilight (more issues with that franchise than any one blog could write about), Vertigo, Somewhere in Time, Romeo and Juliet... I could go on. Even Angel when we see the first time he saw Buffy in Angel we find out she had him smitten from the very beginning (no one is perfect, not even Joss Whedon). It makes zero sense and creates an unrealistic ideal for everyone who buys into it. I get that a film needs to move things along quickly, but you can still have just a little more time pass.

So yes, it was your generic romcom. One that I didn't like all that much. Not because it was a romcom, but because it was a generic romcom.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Titanic, 1997

The menu begins to play. My speakers are not yet on so I only see Leo and Kate moving in slow motion, their hair blowing in the wind. I sigh. Let's get this over with.

Let me begin by giving you my background with this movie. It came out in 1997 when I was 10. I desperately wanted to see it because everyone desperately wanted to see it. I memorized the song by listening to it over and over - I may have even written down the words (this was before the ease of looking up lyrics on the Internet. My mom wouldn't let me see it because of its rating (and probably because of the boobs) and by the time I was 13 and was allowed to watch it, I didn't want to because I had grown out of my I-want-to-do-this-thing-because-my-friends-want-to-do-this-thing phase (at least when it came to watching Titanic). Then when I was 16 or 17 I figured I should watch it purely for the impact it had on pop culture. I put my cousin's VHS into my 12" TV/VCR combo and watched the film. I was unimpressed to say the least. It was long, predictable (not just because I knew the story of the Titanic, but that did have a lot to do with it), and often flat out ridiculous. I seriously considered stopping after the first tape (yes, tape), but I kept going. Since then I have spend the last 8 or 9 years really hating this film.

Alright. Let's get on with it. I won't give a synopsis of this since I'm assuming that if you haven't seen it, you have a fairly thorough knowledge of the film. After all, it did have a huge impact on pop culture.

First, the stuff I found humorous:

1. The opening shot on Bill Paxton. Remember when hoop earrings on men were cool? That year sucked.


3. I forgot King Theoden was in this.

4. Ah, the old "Picasso will never amount to anything" line so we know to not like Billy's character while simultaneously endearing us to Rose for being a forward thinker.

5. I literally laughed out loud when Rose took the comb out of her hair and shook her head - in slow motion. Just in case we didn't know that the scene where Jack paints her like one of his French girls was going to be a big deal.

6. PG-13 BOOBS! The scandal of 1997 in Orem, Utah

7. The best acting Leo did in the movie - you can almost see his boner through his facial expressions when Rose removes her robe.

8. In the back seat of the car, Rose tells Jack to put his hands on her (they're both fully clothed at this point). I begin to think about how boring second base would be with a corset. Also, who says that? I have a feeling James Cameron is living out some awkward fantasy here.

9. The iconic hand on the window during uncomfortable car sex. The moment Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright decided to spoof in the first episode of Spaced and the only reason I watched this movie a second time.

10. Pre sex, PG-13 boobs are fine. Post sex, they're covered up by a nondescript black cloth. Heterosexual teenage boys across America leave the theater.

11. While freezing to death, Jack talks about writing "a strongly worded letter" to the cruise liner. I think of Gob and smile.

Things I didn't like and/or found confusing:

1. Seriously, what is the point of the storyteller format? Any and all necessary exposition could have easily been done in 1912 (as we see with Rose persistently overhearing King Theoden). No annoying thirty second breaks from the actual film to go back to random exposition, no random sub-plot with the diamond (I'm sure there's some significance to Rose throwing the necklace into the ocean at the end, but I didn't pick up on it), and the movie itself would be a good 40 minutes shorter. All very good things.

2. "I'm the king of the world!" I don't know what I thought of that line when the movie first came out or when I actually saw it, but it has spawned a generation of douche baggery on boats, and for that I will forever hate that line.

3. Jack saves Rose from committing suicide when they first meet. The ship's personnel hear her screaming (as Jack is saving her) and find them in a somewhat awkward position (right after Jack saves her). However, it's only after Jack is handcuffed and about to be beaten that Rose thinks, "Hey! I should probably tell these guys he wasn't trying to rape me!" Good timing.

4. I will be the first to sing the praises of both Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. I adore everything Kate is and does and Leo is a great actor. But they were not great here. I would go so far as to say they were TERRIBLE. Seriously, horrendously bad acting. I'm willing to blame James Cameron for a lot of that because I liked them both before this movie (What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Sense and Sensibility specifically). I'm willing to give them both the benefit of the doubt and say their dialogue was written poorly and were told again and again to over-act.

5. "I always win, Jack. One way or another." Billy Zane's character says this to Jack after they put Rose on the lifeboat. Does that mean he'd rather die and make sure Jack and Rose don't end up together? Cause he did give up his spot on a life boat only moments before to find Rose. It wasn't out of love so... I don't know. I could be totally reading that wrong, because it makes no sense.

6. That was Rose dying at the end, right?

Generally, I still hate this movie. It really wouldn't be bad if you took out Rose and Jack's story. Cause really, the Titanic stuff is good enough story in and of itself (and I always find Kathy Bates to be a delight). The story is a fascinating study in class, sociology, psychology... Make a movie about the class system, about the decision to put so few lifeboats on the ship, about how the tragedy of the third class passengers sparked a societal change, about the musicians, about the captain, about the couple who really did decide to stay in their room to die together... I'd enjoy that movie because the moments focusing on the disaster and not the love story were pretty powerful to me. It made me wonder what I would do in a situation like that. Would I do all that I could to survive as long as possible, or would I decide to end my life on my own terms?

One thing I did appreciate was the end where the camera pans over the pictures of Rose having a good life. Granted, we're made to believe that she only did it because Jack told her to, but I'm willing to ignore that part because it still goes to show you that the world DOESN'T end when your boyfriend leaves and/or dies (I'm looking at you, Bella!)

Now that that's over, I need to go drown out that insufferable song.

Less than a Triumphant Return

Turns out graduate school took up much more of my time than I had anticipated. But I'm finished which means I have a rather large amount of free time on my hands so I'm going to start this up again. Today after work I'm going to watch Titanic no matter how much my brain may kick and scream. So just hold tight all four of you who visited my site five days ago!