Monday, August 17, 2009
Universal Pictures let DUPLICITY down. The studio clearly didn't know how to market the movie, going with advertising that hammered on the theme of "sexy sexy sexy." Yeah, well, we have the Internet now. We don't need to go to the movies for sexy. The marketing theme should have been "story story story."
Clive Owen is a Bond manque (as usual) who seduces Julia Roberts at an embassy party in swinging Dubai. She drugs him, steals some documents out of his briefcase, and disappears. That's the opening credits, and that's your setup for a charming spy vs. spy story that's a touch THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR and a touch ADAM'S RIB. Writer/Director Tony Gilroy knows how to create mature, enjoyable dialogue and situations, and he knows which actors to keep in check and which to let run. There are some supporting players here whom you will know but who didn't make the marketing the effort, and they flat-out steal the show. In fact, days later, I'm still chuckling at one of them.
DUPLICITY isn't laugh-out-loud funny, and it does cheat a bit at the end, but it's clever, it's fun, and it's a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. Throw it on while folding laundry and your chores will be over before you know it.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
MARNIE is the film about a poor, helpless felon who needs a repulsively self-satisfied man to trap her, rape her, and control every aspect of her existence until he cures her through the power of his manly will. It’s like THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, but in this version, both combatants are horrid criminals. Marnie’s signature line is, “Oh, Mark. I don’t want to go to jail. I’d rather stay with you.” That, kids, is romance.
The film stars Tippi Hendren as a woman who is so disconnected from her true self that she appears more blonde automoton than an actual human being. Or perhaps that’s just Hendren’s acting technique. Sean Connery plays the repulsive, sadistic rapist as, basically, Sean Connery (Interesting side note: his character, Mark, is from Pennsylvania, yet he has a Scottish accent. His father has an English accent. So much for the Pennsylvania Dutch!). These people have never been less interesting.
Alfred Hitchcock directed MARNIE, yet the film has all the polish of a poorly made rerun from Sunday Night at the Movies. Between the annoying use of red filters to show Marnie’s near-total paralysis at the sight of the color red (Really, what does this woman do when she menstruates? Curl up in a corner and scream for four days?) and its ridiculously amateurish in-n-out zooming at a moment of moral crisis, one can only forgive Hitch by assuming that he was on heavy psychotropic drugs throughout the process of making this movie and give him a pass.
Some people love MARNIE. But hey, some people love balut. I don’t ever need another go at either.