25 April 2011

My Life Last Night

Last night it occurred to me that my life is just like Sam Worthington's. Not like his life in Avatard (because I'm not in a wheel chair, obvs.) but more like in Last Night. I roll home to my apartment and all of its expensive faucets and focus on finding a free outlet to charge my cell phone. But my wife, Keira Knightley, is in kind of a foul mood and has stripped down to a rather combative white tank top. Regrettably, I make an exacerbating comment about the deleterious effect a third glass of wine has on the missus (that one never works). She re-tousles her hair in frustration and questions whether we should be married at all.

Keira (in my head I always over-enunciate it: "Keyyy-raaahhh") is one of those blocked writer types always letting the ash grow too long on her cigarette (which she's not supposed to be smoking!) and layering more clothes over her spindly frame. Maybe she can't write because she finds herself trapped in Massy Tadjedian's Last Night instead of the "Last Night" of a far better author, James Salter. And, just in case Keira isn't self-conscious enough, her leonine French "friend" arrives to ask her at least three times, "but whyyy aren't you wriiiting?" To be fair, there's a moment at the end of Last Night when Keira forces out a surprise tear that made me gasp and say aloud, "that was good," as it slid down her cheek. I couldn't tell if she was acting.

But Sam Worthington-Me has his own problems. I want to be faithful to my wife Keira even though she overindulges in spirituous beverages but there's the problem of my coworker, Eva Mendes. She's physically attractive in a totally different way than Keira. We go on a business trip to Philadelphia and while some boring guy does all the work with the clients we flutter our eyelashes at each other. We share a long scene in a well-lighted bar that resembles the best sequence in Out of Sight except not quite as good. I'm all alone in a hotel pool with a hot Latina--her perfectly calibrated backstory of heartbreak, her damp underthings. What can I do?

And what can I tell Keira, if anything? Maybe we'll just rent Out of Sight (do they have DVD rental shops in SoHo?) so she can learn something about editing and I can learn something about chemistry.

14 April 2011

Joe Wright's Gift

Is Joe Wright the best director we have for first acts? If you sat down for only a half hour of Atonement or Hanna you'd think you were in for a masterpiece (WTT will give Wright a break and pretend The Soloist never happened).

His self-possessed little friend Saoirse Ronan (the catalyst Briony in Atonement) certainly helps Wright engage an audience. And Hanna, this quaint parable on the pleasures and perils of homeschooling, is refreshingly kinetic from its blood red opening credits.

The first 30 minutes overflow with memorable detail. An Andy Goldsworthy-worthy shot of ice floes in the shape of an eye. A close view of Hanna's painfully chapped lips. The contrast between Hanna and her father (Eric Bana, doing his best to play a badass Erik with a K) target-practicing antlers in the forest and antagonist Marissa Viegler (Cate Blanchett) vigorously employing electric dental tools before the wooded wallpaper in her mod apartment.

In her first brush with civilization, a shocking bit of violence (and its resulting spray) gains Hanna some very tastefully done blood freckles. As she continues her escape, the rock'n'roll Chemical Brothers score kicks in and the camera slides 360 degrees around black site tunnels.

Popping up through an unexpected manhole cover, Hanna still matches the landscape, her snow white furs exchanged for desert orange prison scrubs. She meets a charming young lady from England who immediately compares the speechless Hanna to M.I.A. and asks if she's from Sri Lanka too. The film's first misstep follows: a heavy-handed sequence in a Moroccan flophouse where Hanna is overwhelmed by an electric teapot, a fluorescent light and a television. That is to say: MODERNITY.

And then...increasingly confused plot points, unmotivated characters (e.g. German Tom Hollander wearing eyeliner), and an orgy of sub-Bourne chase scenes (we're living in a Paul Greengrass world, might as well accept it).

They say Hanna might be a franchise but I think Wright's next picture should be the start of three more projects, presented at once.