Thursday, August 13, 2009

Changeling & Two Lovers

This past weekend was the weekend for un-funny movies. Friday night I saw Changeling, Saturday night it was Two Lovers, and Sunday it was Funny People, currently in theaters.

In Changeling, Angelina Jolie plays a youngish single working mother living in California whose young son goes missing. The crooked LA police force somehow convinces her to take in a completely different boy as her son, on a “trial basis.” (Who would ever agree to something like this, I can’t imagine.) She refuses to lose hope that her little boy will never return, and goes to great lengths to continue her search. I was actually under the impression this movie would be more along the lines of the supernatural, but boy, was I ever wrong.

A few things:
  • John Malkovich was excellent as the preacher who helps bring justice.
  • The best actor in the movie was a young kid involved in some very messy doings. I have no idea what his name is, but he was the tops. Following him very closely, the second best actor was Jason Butler Harner as a real sicko.
  • Angelina can stop the incessant lip-quivering now. It’s enough. And also, she is not a very good actress. Her squeaky “I want my son back! I want my son back!” was less heartrending than it was nails-on-a-chalkboard, headache-inducing. But she is gorgeous. And her clothes were freaking unbelievable! Hot damn.
  • The case of the random Irish accent. Cutie Jeffrey Donovan slides in and out of an Irish brogue throughout the movie, once even seeming to attempt the accent of an Irish Texan.
  • The scenes were really well done. The violence was realistic and the nuthouse (Code 12, anyone?) was quite scary, indeed.
  • It moved slowly at times and I found myself looking more at my friend’s living room than the movie.
So see it, don’t see it, I have no major opinion about the movie as a whole. But. It was depressing. It was disturbing. It was dark and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I had to watch Burn Notice to snap out of it!

And then the next night I saw Two Lovers.

Joaquin Phoenix plays the suicidal, adult son of a protective Jewish couple who own a small dry cleaning service in Brighton Beach. Why is he suicidal? He and his ex-fiance both tested positive for Tay-Sachs, and she didn’t want to adopt kids.

Freud would call it “transference” but semantics aside, Phoenix takes a liking to Gywneth Paltrow, a good-looking, pill-popping, needy, and non-Jewish woman who has moved into the apartment building where he lives with his parents. Jewish friends of his parents also own a larger dry cleaning company… and they have a daughter his age, a sweet non-partying woman who is much more serious than Paltrow (played by the lovely Vinessa Shaw, who is a brunette in this movie). After meeting Shaw and making casual dates, then breaking them, it’s revealed she is in love with him, and he semi-dates her almost out of a sense of duty while simultaneously seeing Paltrow, who he has become wild for (and who has romantic complications of her own). Non-hilarity ensues.

The movie was incredibly depressing. I may have missed a few scenes since I thought I was increasing the volume, but in retrospect I think I fast forwarded. Nevertheless, I doubt I missed details that would have changed my mind about the movie.

Joaquin is such an intense actor, though! Wow! He was just brilliant. Poor conflicted and confused character… even thinking about his character now I am thoughtful about love in general and how casual encounters and genuine feelings can cause so much pain. He was enthralling. Picture his intensity in To Die For times 10, but without death (except for perhaps death of spirit). Interestingly, one small thing I noticed was that Phoenix’s character never removes his coat. It was unsettling and I wonder why that detail was left in.

Anyway, if you decide to see this one, have some comedy nearby, unless you want to wallow in self-pity about your past relationships for the rest of your evening. Believe me on this one.

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