WANK OR WATCH | Love & Other Drugs
It is incredibly rare that the lead actress goes topless in a romantic comedy. Unless you’re Charlize Theron or another serial boob-barer, ladies tend to keep their breasts in their shirt until they are in a role that people respect so that, by extension, they will be respected for getting naked. So, while Hathaway hasn’t been one to shy away from a topless scene, what possessed her to get naked repeatedly in Love & Other Drugs?
While this is a film about a guy falling for a girl, there is far more unexpected drama in this movie than most. Jamie (Gyllenhaal) is a drup rep who, while shadowing a doctor, meets Maggie (Hathaway) who has been diagnosed with an early on-set of Parkinson’s. This is not What Happens in Vegas! It is a peculiar piece and one that encouraged me to check out the trailer because how do you sell this movie to the masses? Ultimately, they opted to include scenes from almost every sequence that doesn’t involve her condition and then two that do, all the while never actually mentioning what she has. Reason why? Parkinson’s is not a good time.
As it is, Anne Hathaway delivers a strong, compelling performance that, while not Oscar-worthy, exceeds what would be expected in a movie of this sort. Did she need to get naked? I personally do not think so, but having as much sex in the movie without nudity might have been a little strange. Her nudity offers nothing to further the plot or emphasise anything at all with regard to her condition. Sadly, this feels a little bit like a TV special with a bigger budget and better acting, but a TV special nonetheless.
My Verdict: Wank
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WANK OR WATCH | Brokeback Mountain
The second film in 2005 in which Anne Hathaway agreed to go topless is a very different proposition to the first, Havoc. Released a few months after, Brokeback Mountain had a highly and widely regarded director in Ang Lee, two leads who had just started to reach their potential in Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, a main character from a recently ended, internationally loved teen drama in Michelle Williams, and a pre-packaged marketing angle of ‘the forbidden love between two cowboys’. Hathaway is no longer the main character, but instead gets the opportunity to work in a movie that will get a wide cinematic release while also attracting the attention of the Academy and casting agents. Regardless of her performance (as long as it’s piss poor of course) this is a statement of intent for her, a declaration of the direction she wants her career to go in.
I remember, despite being twenty-one at the time, having to take a fair bit of banter-based stick from even my normally liberal friends for saying that I not only saw this in the cinema, but that I liked it. On this, my first viewing since, I would say it resonates even more. It is a little cheesy in the beginning, and there are moments that seem unrealistic to me (the moment downstairs when Jack (Gyllenhaal) first comes to visit Ennis (Ledger) seems passionate but unlikely in the circumstances), but this is all just setting up a gut-wrenching final forty minutes where Ledger really takes the movie by storm. Even beyond the story, this is a truly beautiful film and some of the photography is just insane. Seven years after seeing it I still remember the scene where Ledger confronts the two tossers at the firework display and it is shot from his feet looking up as fireworks explode in the sky behind him. On second watch, that shot slayed me even more.
Was this movie worth Hathaway getting topless for? While she plays fourth string, her performance on the phone towards the end of the movie was worth her agreeing to get topless for alone, even if her character was never quite fully realised. I love this movie and will be sure not to wait another seven years before returning to it. And, as a final thought, for those fellas who still rib their male friends for watching this, you never see a dick in focus and yet do see both Hathaway and Williams topless.
My verdict: Watch
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REVIEW | The Dark Knight Rises
This is not Spiderman 3. It is not Iron Man 2. But this is also not very good.
The final chapter of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is beautifully shot, with the cinematography and direction being superb throughout. The acting is excellent from those who have been with the trilogy throughout and even better from Hardy as Bane, JGL as the new Gary Oldman/spoiler and, best of all, Hathaway as Catwoman. These three, along with Bale, earn their moments of levity in this flick and they do so with aplomb. The major set pieces are just stunning, whether understated in the sense of the final scene involving the bomb or even the shots shown in the trailer of the bridges in the distance, or balls out crazy like that of the football stadium, they are created with the same level of detail and care.
Unfortunately everything else isn’t. There are far too many plot-holes in this movie to simply wave them off as being par for the course with a blockbuster (see another person’s excellent but spoilerific run through here for proof) but while I was sitting there in the cinema aghast at these utterly fucking bonkers moments, there are more fundamental problems. There is not a simple, central narrative to the story like those of the first films, making the entire middle section a mess. The editing is poor, even from the start where we are first introduced to Commissioner Gordon talking about Harvey Dent for a matter of seconds before cutting to Bane In A Plane for the entirety of that sequence before jumping back to Gordon talking about Dent making that initial moment entirely unnecessary. A daft nitpick but from that moment I knew that we were in for a bumpy ride. The now obligatory car chase is dumb as hell and serves absolutely no purpose. Bane is big but he is nowhere near as frightening as Joker.
This culminates in a film that, even if you were not acknowledging it as the final chapter of the series, has bigger stakes than the previous two and yet I felt nothing. No concern, no emotional tugs and no interest. It seems as though Nolan had a great many ideas for the film and, when the movie came in at over four hours, decided against cutting chunks to make it more linear and opted instead to trim, rendering the entire movie undeveloped. This not only makes it a disappointing end to the trilogy but a bad movie when considered as a stand-alone.
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WANK OR WATCH | Havoc
Anne Hathaway was almost twenty-two when her second appearance as Mia Thermopolis in the Princcess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement hit UK screens. Now, while she was playing a twenty-one year-old in that film, it was obviously a children’s movie. Her only other major cinematic roles at that point had been Ella Enchanted and the first Princess Diary film and that was all I knew her for despite having seen Nicholas Nickleby in which she also appears. I had written her off, assuming that she would suckle on the Disney teat until she disappeared into obscurity and I would only ever see her face in supermarket bargain bins years later.
And then, one year later, she played the topless card twice and suddenly the world took her seriously as an adult. The first of these came in Havoc, a film centering on a gang of white upper-middle class teenagers who adopt a faux-gangsta lifestyle seemingly due to feeling unconnected to their families and heavily influenced by the music that they listen to. This film could and probably should have been amazing. Not only does the cast-list include two youngsters who have become legitimate stars in Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum in addition to Hathaway, the supporting cast have some excellent credits to their names and this was also written by Stephen Gaghan who won an Oscar for Traffic and was the first fictional film from Barbara Kopple who has two Best Documentary Oscars to her name. It is this team behind the scenes that disappoints me most, as Gaghan has shown that he can write gritty and Kopple has worked exclusively with reality previously. Unfortunately, neither of these things show.
What we end up with is a bunch of white kids embarrassingly talking like rappers, the guys being too dumb to notice the distinction between fighting other faux-gangs and fighting actual gangs, and girls being taught an archaic lesson about interacting with bad boys. The whole thing, on almost every level, feels cringe-inducing and, while Hathaway shows in her vulnerable moments that she was ready to make that transition into more mature roles, Gordon-Levitt’s incessant Snoop Dogg impression is reason enough to skip this.
This is an uncomfortable watch and not for praise-worthy reasons.
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MUMBLESPUNK STREAMER | Puffy Chair
Currently available via Netflix US
This was the feature debut of the Duplass brothers in every possible way. It was the first time that they had both written and produced a movie as well as the first time Jay had directed and Mark had acted in one. In this way it reminds me ever so slightly of Bottle Rocket, a film that launched the careers of Owen Wilson as an actor, Wes Anderson as a director and them both as writers. The films are comparable in other ways too, they both feel as though they are featuring lovable and yet slightly effected characters that the film-makers are not afraid to show everyone their flaws because they paint them with such affection. They both also have this energy, this excitement that even in the slower scenes somehow simmers below the surface. Basically, it is obvious that each set of film-makers have a desire and message that they want to convey in film and that pulsates through their respective movies.
That’s where the comparison ends. The Puffy Chair, in true mumblecore fashion, is weak on plot. Josh (Duplass) travels across the country with his tightly-wound girlfriend (Aselton) and his hippy brother (Wilkins) to pick up and deliver a chair that he bought from eBay to his dad for his birthday. The majority of the ‘action’ takes place in the town where they are meant to collect the chair from but this largely revolves around killing time and an unlikely romance. Where this movie differs from regular mumblecore is in the technical aspect. This feels like a properly plotted movie, with a higher level of either equipment or competence in the cinematography and direction, and far better acting. Duplass feels comfortable on screen and the film seems anchored by his performance, while Wilkins for me steals the show with his soft comic touch.
This reads like a glowing review and perhaps it doesn’t quite deserve the level of praise that I’m bestowing upon it, but this was my second viewing of this movie in the last three months and, unexpected to me, it actually managed to improve second time round. If you like Mark Duplass as an actor then I definitely think that this is worth your time.
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