The Movie Club

The Painfully Awkward Sex Award Goes To ...
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 5 2011 10:26 AM

The Movie Club

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Still from Greenberg. Click image to expand.
Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ben Stiller in Greenberg

Hello again, To briefly address a few topics/points thrown out there by each of you—

Stephanie: Funny anecdote related to that rumor about Sofia relying on her daddy to cut her films—I wrote a 4,500-word story on Somewhere for the cover of my publication, and someone I work with sent me a note asking why I failed to mention that Sofia's dialogue in Godfather III was obviously dubbed by another actress. (An odd rumor, I thought, because if it were true, wouldn't it at least partially let Sofia off the hook for her universally panned performance?) Whether it's sexism or reverse-classism or just plain bitchery, so many of her detractors seem to want to talk about something other than what she's actually putting on-screen.

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Dana: Actually, I didn't mean to imply that I'm resistant to creating Top 10 lists—just that, because I was as a civilian heavily influenced by critic lists, I feel a certain kind of pressure when creating my own. It may not be my favorite part of the job, but like all the other small annoyances of this gig—to quote Deconstructing Harry out of context—it still beats the hell out of waitressing.

Matt: Of course, in an attention economy, adding to the conversation in any way, even if it's in a negative spirit, is some kind of endorsement. The fact that Inception is a juggernaut is probably one reason why so many of us find it useful to mention it in relation or in contrast to lesser-seen films—it's a reference that everyone gets, which is a rare thing in our fragmented culture. But I admit, I need to be more careful about referencing Film Z in discussions of Film X—that became abundantly clear to me when I saw the headline, "Karina Longworth Prefers The Human Centipede to Another Year." (In fact, I kind of do, but I didn't actually write that.)

Regarding 3-D: Here in Los Angeles, conversations tend to skew away from a film's merits, and toward industry trends and money, and so I've heard the same spiel about 3-D many times: that first and foremost, it's a method by which studios can charge more for individual movie tickets, thus goosing opening weekend totals, which is important for all the usual reasons but also because, increasingly, the way to get mid-range adopters to back away from the Netflix or Xbox or whatever is to convince them that there's a cultural phenomenon going on out there that they have to be part of. Which is all probably true, and I certainly had 3-D experiences this year in which, had I paid for a ticket rather than RSVPed to a screening, I would have felt cheated.

But as I admitted in my previous Movie Club missive, some of the purest pleasure I had at the movies this year came via 3-D films. Tron: Legacy was a particular surprise for me. I saw the original in the theater when I was a child but wouldn't call myself a fan and wasn't expecting much from the reboot. I certainly wasn't expecting a Christian allegory barely concealed within a bizarre-world mashup of The Big Lebowski and Speed Racer with an actor best known for impersonating Tony Blair cameoing as Ziggy Stardust. This is cinema!

Dan: I have absolutely nothing to say about The Fighter, which is, of course, saying something about The Fighter. As an ardent fan of I Heart Huckabees, here's hoping for The Full Russell sometime soon. Also, I hear you on Night Catches Us—what a mood that film creates. Best Sexual Tension of the year, perhaps?

Speaking of sex, allow me to simultaneously goose this post's SEO value and sneak in a mention of two more of my favorite 2010 films by dropping a few more random, highly specific awards. My pick for Best Painfully Awkward Sex goes to Greenberg. (Dana, I see Blue Valentine, a film about which I have very mixed feelings, on your Top 10—care to argue?) And for Character-Defining Nudity, does anything beat the mirror scene in Carlos?

Over to the next,
Karina

Karina Longworth is the creator/host of You Must Remember This, a podcast about the secret/forgotten history of Hollywood's first century. She is the author of books about George Lucas, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, and has contributed to LA Weekly, the Guardian, NPR, Vulture, and other publications.

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