Sunday, February 07, 2010

I'm in Desktop Heaven!

Yes, every once in a while The Movie Hooligan has to take off his movie reviewer cap and put on his relationship cap to examine the wasteland that is pop cult's treatment of relationships. Take the Twilight saga, for instance. Some might say that it's a further sign of the dumbing down of our culture, and I won't stand in their way. But some may try to go beneath the shallow surface to say that Twilight sends a horrible message to young girls, something akin to the Promise Keepers credo, that they should just sit around and dreamily watch their men as they oil up their muscles and go to work on their motorcycles... something like that. Not necessarily in that order. But I try to look on the bright side and say it sends the following positive message: go for quality, girls! Look at those chiseled hunks of man meat offered forth on the silver screen for your dreaming pleasure! Are you not inspired? Even the creepy blonde-ish guy with the bug eyes has his charms. (He's in the big group poster, way in the back, of course) Don't settle for second best, girls. And besides: they've got SUPER POWERS! Duh! How can you do anything else in the presence of super powers besides sit around and gaze upon their possessors dreamily? Also, I don't know how vampires can go out in the daytime... Pattinson DOES go out in the daytime, right? Like he's just half vampire or something? Normally I'd ask you to explain it to me, but frankly I'm just not that interested in the mechanics of it.

Okay, bad example. But take the Orianthi song, According to You, for a different example. I use this one because it's been drilled permanently into my head for the last three months down at the gym. The song's narrator spends time complaining that their current boyfriend doesn't appreciate her. First of all, this is retarding the growth of the national debate through song. Have we so soon forgotten Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" and The Pussycat Dolls' song "Dontcha"? No, I guess we just need to take the necessary two steps back, thanks to Orianthi, so let's continue. So the song's narrator files her complaint: "According to you, I'm stupid, etc." Then the song switches gears: "According to him, I'm beautiful, incredible..." You get the idea. But remember this: the song's called According to You, not According to Him. Besides, what's the point of going into a relationship where you know you're going to get smothered to death with gooey, mushy praise? Where's the challenge? There's Hims at every corner bus stop, just waiting to evolve into unappreciative Yous. I have a feeling she'll come to her senses and go back to the You in this story. After all, what's so bad about the Nazi quarterback with the awesome van anyway? He'll provide for you financially... when he's not sawing the heads off Barbie dolls in the basement, that is.

Which brings me to The Science of Sleep. Normally I lavish praise on the crew, but this time it's all Jean-Louise this and Jean-Claude that. All strangers to me! Phooey! What, was Jean-Yves Escoffier so unavailable, I ask you? ...oh, I guess he is! Rather permanently, at that! Anyway, I had hesitation going into it, knowing it's Michel Gondry. I know he's a genius and all, but I and my regular viewing companions didn't make it through Be Kind Rewind, for one. Something about Mia Farrow entering grandma phase just deeply depressed me, for one. And Human Nature was too weird even for me, but I guess I'm just not a hardcore Patricia Arquette fan, hirsute or otherwise. And this Stephane TV? Total rip-off of Al TV! Seriously, though, I was with it at first. The animation was good, even though there wasn't enough of it. The cardboard highways were fun. The short bursts of animation reminded me of those music videos in the mid-80s that had limited animation budgets, featuring cartoon characters looking over their shoulders... ACDC's Sink the Pink and The Rolling Stones' Harlem Shuffle come to mind. They're the only examples I can think of. (oh, for God's sake, find 'em on YouTube yourselves!!)

But perhaps the film is intended as a prolegomena to any future romantic involvement with incessant dreamers. Maybe I just misread the whole thing. Just be forewarned: you're headed for a bumpy ride! And besides, they're apparently as culpable and as influenced by outside forces as ordinary, uncreative people. Take Stephane's blatantly disgusting coworker, for example. I believe French Esquire called him the Man of the New Millennium, if I'm not mistaken. You probably know him best as Napoleon in Night at the Museum 2. He looks like a cross between... I'm going to say, Peter Riegert and Geoffrey Rush. I forget who my viewing companions compared him to. Boon was the key one, though. He's more than a bit like Woogie from Something About Mary, and like the goofy best friend in every Richard Curtis vehicle. Not necessarily a stereotype, but more of an archetype, if you will! Maybe even an amalgam! But towards the end, when Stephane becomes a raving, psychotic lunatic, he uses Guy's romanticizing strategies all too literally, which just repel the target of his affections all the more.

Which brings me to Charlotte Gainsbourg. Not to be confused with Charlotte Rampling from Stardust Memories and Basic Instinct 2. No, CG's the new It girl... somebody's new It girl, not mine... And who knew? She's part of that Nepotistic New Wave still sweeping through Hollywood: she's the goddaughter of Yul Brynner. So you'd better be nice, sycophants!

As for the budding relationship between Stephanie and Stephane, well, first of all their names are too similar. Big turn off. But I knew there was trouble in paradise when she goes "Oh! You're the son of my landlord!" I suppose it could be a turn-on in a different movie, but here it was clearly a turn-off. And of course Stephane's a real charmer in his own right. He starts off giving her this big to-do list involving... what else? An animation! Animation's hard work, my friend, and right out of the gate he's dictating a big complicated animation sequence to the girl he's trying to woo, and she gets to do all the heavy lifting! No, here's what you're supposed to do to win her over. I learned this from Maxim magazine. First of all, you gotta do some listening, fellas. Normally not part of Maxim's ethic, but even they have exceptions. Say, for example, the girl you're trying to woo is telling you about a recent trip to the zoo she went on, and she starts talking about something cute one of the animals did. It's at THAT point you go "Oh yeah? Well, show me what that looked like..." Force her to do someembarrassing pantomime, guys! Duh! That's what the one dude did at the big party towards the end that just sent Stephane right over the edge. I don't know where you go from there, but I think the pizzafaces over at Maxim would surely agree: you get to a point in your life where it feels better to EARN the right to say "Nice outfit, honey! It'll look great on my floor." That was Tiger Woods's problem: when he would say it, well ... even I would jump at the chance. All that golf money? Shoot.

What else? Stephane's big dream hands were fun. Shoulda been more of that. The story setup seemed original and international enough, but fell flat along the way. Reminded me of Billy Liar a bit. Apparently, the one part that WAS true was that Billy Liar wrote a song that played in one of the clubs. The way he claims credit for it, it's the one time he told the truth! Stephane has a similar moment, but it's tinged with doubt: did Stephane finally get his calendar produced by those ungrateful swine he was working for? Or was the party just one big dream sequence? And did they really need to have that old guy come back in long hair to freak out Stephane en route to his big final date that would determine the rest of his life? Oh, but didn't they? It can't be a recurring symbol if you use it only once!

But somehow at the very end I had the feeling they would end with him in Stephanie's bed, unable to move. Ambiguity! The Big What If. We are all connected, and we all have to take care of one another, whether we like it or not. It's then just a question of how much effort you can squeeze out of everyone else.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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