Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Amelie's Chocolate Diary About Singles Actually

On Friday's post I mentioned that I'd be going to see the film The Aristocrats. Most people, having never heard of the film, mistakenly thought I was going to see the Walt Disney film of a similar title and far fewer expletives. No, no - you're thinking CATS, people.... The AristoCATS. Completely different film... and probably a more enjoyable one. Why? Because The AristocRats was simply woeful. The idea certainly had promise - a documentary in which all of today's most prominent stand up comedians ponder, prod, philosophize, reinvent and tell what is widely considered to be the most vulgar joke ever told - which it is. It also happens to suck, which completely ruins the film. I won't go into details (not because I don't want to give anything away, but because it really isn't worth writing about) but at the end of it my friend Andrew and I, both somewhat drained, looked at each other and said, "Oh my God", and not in a good way. There really wasn't much more to be said. So, if it was on your list of films to see, don't bother. It will use up 86 minutes of your life that you won't get back.

I mention all of this only as a public service really, and because it also provides a nice segue to my next thought which has to do with romantic comedies. How do I make the leap between the two? Elementary, my dear reader. Just climb into my warped little mind.

The following Sunday after seeing the film, I was hanging out with Andrew (again), and another friend Wynne who, upon hearing that Andrew and I had seen The Aristocrats, attempted to hand us both a guilt trip for not inviting her along. Apologetic but relatively unfazed, we continued talking about films for a little bit and she asked us if we knew of any good "bad romantic comedies" to recommend for an upcoming movie night she was going to have with a friend of hers. Andrew was able to rattle off a few good ones, but when the focus turned to me, I had a tough time thinking of any - despite the fact that I had just watched a romantic comedy only a week before. The first legitimate one I suggested was Love Actually, which I also mentioned I thought was terrible (Andrew and Wynne, in unison, stomped their feet and said, "Oh I LOVE that movie!") But after that, I kept hemming and hawing and coming up with films that didn't fall under the genre (such as Waking Ned Devine...... I mean, really.) After a bit, Wynne exclaimed, "I would be SHOCKED if there were any out there that you liked."

Well m'am, all I can say is prepare to be shocked. Although I couldn't give her an answer at the time, I knew there were at least some romantic comedies that I enjoyed... just... not.. enough to... um.. remember the titles. Still, it bothered me enough that the following day I looked at my Netflix rental history and weeded out all the romantic comedies and my ratings for them. No - it's not my favorite genre certainly, but I was surprised to see how many of them I actually enjoyed. Here's a list of some of them, provided with a small synopsis for those unfamiliar, and my personal rating (1 to 5 stars.)

Chocolat - The film I mentioned seeing a week ago and forgot about. Juliette Binoche plays some gypsy blooded chocolate maker who happens upon a lovely but stifling conservative French town and slowly turns it lovey-dovey through chocolate, chili peppers, and just a touch of magic. Johnny Depp shows up about halfway through playing an innocent, yet oh so misunderstood river rat who slowly but surely learns to shed his cynicism and allows himself to get caught up in the chocolate love. Uh-huh-hummmm...... I actually really liked this film. Some strong performances by both the lead and supporting casts, and a decent storyline. 4 stars.

Love Actually - I told my friends, too hastily, that I thought this film was terrible. Actually, I was wrong. I just didn't remember much about it other than Hugh Grant was a lead role, and he's annoying. There are about seven different stories going on here, all of them intertwined, and none of which I can remember well enough to repeat. Still, once my memory was refreshed I remember thinking it was pretty OK, as they say. Funny British accents all around, too. 3 stars.

High Fidelity - I actually mentioned this on Sunday and was told it wasn't really a romantic comedy. Huh? John Cusack going through his past relationships and trying to get back together with his most recent girlfriend, while running a record store and living a life revolved around music. Jack Black plays a stellar supporting role, as does that other guy who's neurotic and likes the band Belle & Sebastian. I normally don't relate at all to the characters in romantic comedies, but I felt a certain kinship with Cusack's character. I don't own a record store. I've never been engaged. Hell, I don't even collect vinyl. But, the film captured some of my previous relationships to a T. Laughs abound. Extra credit for hooking up with Denise from The Cosby Show. 4 stars

Emma - Gwyneth Paltrow plays some Victorian era chick who likes to hook all her friends up with various horny Victorian era guys, but remains oblivious to all the Victorian era guys who want to hook up with her because she's the catch of the county. A little pretentious (originally a Jane Austen novel, so that's to be expected) and Paltrow is cute, but overdoes it a little bit. Still - fairly entertaining. 3 stars.

Singles - I'm not even sure this is a romantic comedy, but man was this THE film when I was in high school. Kickass soundtrack. A cast full of grunge wanna-be degenerates just living life and we get to watch. Not much of a plot as I remember, but the music elevated it to "great flick" status and made up for any deficiencies, such as Matt Dillon. 4 stars

Amelie - I'm not sure why I liked this film so much. It was French, for one, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I remember this film as being pretentiously so. Anyway, it is the story of this ridiculously naive woman with a childish, carefree approach to life who is hopelessly in love with a man who doesn't know it. Somehow she manages to make it all work. Very slick editing and effects, and the story, while sappy, is both funny and endearing. 4 stars

Psycho - Not a comedy, but the dynamic between Norman and his mother is unlike any other mother/son relationship captured on film before or since. Heartfelt, touching, and full of laughter and love. A must see.... really. 5 stars.

Miss Congeniality - I love Sandra Bullock. I mean, what's not to like? She's hot. She's down to Earth. She's genuine. She has great on-screen presence. But this film sucked out loud. Bullock plays an ugly, unkempt FBI agent trying to track down a killer by going undercover and infiltrating... a beauty pageant. HA!!! The possibilities for comedy are endless, right? Wrong. Avoid it. Bullock is the only redeeming quality. 2 stars. (**They recently made a sequel to this film, which I'll never understand, and I heard it was even worse than the first. Sandra, right your career! Please!**)

Bridget Jones's Diary
- I don't know a single woman who disliked this film. Seriously. They all adore it. When asked why, they usually refer to Rene Zellweger (portraying Jones) as everywoman, she nails what it's like to be single in a major city, she's imperfect yet lovable, blah blah, blah. In my opinion, she's also boring. Does anyone remember the plot? Could you help me out? In it's defense, I remember laughing out loud quite a few times, but I can't remember why. Oh, and funny British accents once again. 3 stars.

I've been a Netflix subscriber since 2001, so there were definitely a few more films in the list but this is a decent sampling. Now, are any of these "good bad romantic comedies?" I'm afraid I can't really answer that. I'm not familiar enough with the genre to give a qualified response. I guess I'll just have to rent a few more to achieve connoisseur status. I've got Groundhog Day coming somewhere down the line - right after Raging Bull and before Dolemite. So yeah, I'll stay open minded. And who knows? I might even make mention a few of them in this space. Just bear with me as I try to grasp an appreciation for the finer points of the genre.... and don't ask me about musicals. I have to draw the line somewhere.


Blogger Korte said...

Eric, Eric Eric... I have to vehemently disagree with your slandering of The Aristocrats...if that is indeed how you spell vehemently.

While I shudder to think of anyone sitting through that film without knowing what was coming beforehand, the film is brilliant, though certainly not for everyone.

If you are a comic... it is an absolute must see.

Of course the joke itself stinks... it's the camaraderie of the community, the bond comics have and how a joke develop[s that's the fun part.

And although she isn't exactly my favorite, Sarah Silverman was brilliant, just brilliant... as you watch the faint recognition wash across her face and she appears to be piecing things together, then utters, directly into the camera, "Joe Franklin raped me"... come ON, man...I have long believed that people should be tested at the door of comedy clubs before being allowed admittance. they should be told a joke with a punch line involving a kid with down syndrome or something getting shoved down a flight of stairs, if they can;t entry.

I can understand people not enjoying this movie, but literally all the people i know that have gone have loved, except you, you bastard.

It's a joke, folks... albeit a bad joke.

That being said, you are still the man, Murky Words author, you are still da man.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 stars for Miss Congeniality?!?!?
I give it four stars and a foot stomp!

Face it, the Rom Com is out of your wheelhouse. That's ok, just lay off and wait for your pitch.

- Andrew

11:05 PM  

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