movie bites: infidelity, a pageant, and mass murder

kim: the world is moving so fast now that we start freaking long before our parents did because we don't ever stop to breathe anymore.

the last kiss is a movie about a man named michael (zach braff) who has the perfect life: he's got a beautiful girlfriend, he's still best friends with his childhood buddies, he has a great job, and he's got a kid on the way. for some reason or other, he decides to sabotage himself by succumbing to a brunette named kim, who is ten year his junior. the movie is primarily about him, but also about his four friends who each have their own early mid-life crisis. chris is stuck in a marriage where his wife constantly points out how much he screws up; kenny is trying desperately to hang onto a life of no responsibility or commitments, and izzy just can't seem to get over his longtime love who dumped him inexplicably one day.

the movie is written by paul haggis of crash and million dollar baby fame. personally, i have never really liked haggis' writing style. i found crash to be horribly contrived and melodramatic, and those two things sort of follow in this movie. however, i found that he manages to deftly weave some humor into some intense situations, such as when michael is caught by his girlfriend and during quite a violent arguement, she calls him a "slut!" and his response is to look confused and reply, "slut?" the fact that haggis can take you from intensity to outright laughter and back to intensity within a matter of seconds in a movie like this, is kind of impressive. humor, ease of humor, is hard to do. probably the hardest thing to write, i'd say. but haggis does it well in this movie. and yes, the actors and director do take a lot of credit, because it is a movie after all, but the writing is solid and even though it is a formula.

on a side note, regarding michael's unexplainable desire to just sabotage his perfect life: if i had a life that boring and that planned out and safe, i think i'd try to sabotage it somehow as well. i know a lot of guys that would, my father included. so is that just a guy thing, or a universal human thing?

olive: grandpa, am i pretty?
grandpa: you are the most beautiful girl in the world.
olive: you're just saying that.
grandpa: no! i'm madly in love with you, and it's not because of your brains or your personality.

little miss sunshine is about a family called the hoovers, who are on the verge of breakdown. the premise basically involves the whole family going on a roadtrip so that olive, the daughter, can participate in a beauty pageant. the family is as dysfunctional as it gets. you have a suicidal uncle, a son that took a vow of silence, a daughter who lives, breathes and sleeps beauty pageants, a father who desperately doesn't want to fail, a grandfather who snorts heroin, and a wife that basically tries to hold the whole family together.

the writing is just pitch perfect. each character has their time to shine, with some great dialogue, especially from the perverted grandfather (alan arkin) who says he can say and do whatever he wants because he still has nazi bullets in his ass. it's not the most original of stories, but it's got a nice charm and heart to it. at the same time, it doesn't completely cop out at the end with a disney ending, which i really appreciated and feared. the movie doesn't tackle any of the subjects too deeply, not even the attempted suicide of the uncle, but it touches enough on each story that it makes you really chear for the family. by the end of the movie, they desperately need something good to happen to them, and you really want it to happen for them. their troubles don't end with the movie; there is no magic fix, and the film makers don't completely try to comfort you with a softball ending, but it leaves you satisfied to have endured the hoover family experience.

beth: i'm an english teacher, not fucking tomb raider.

and for something completely different, is the descent. i missed his little horror flick when it first came out. i sort of gave it a pan when i saw the trailer. basically, i thought it was the typical group of people getting in over their heads type of movie. and i was right.

the movie is about six women who go on an expedition into some caves in the appalachian mountains. what would be a fun, exciting trip turns into horror. but the horror doesn't really start until about halfway through the movie. the first half of the movie is great, and it's made really well, because there is a claustrophobic look and feel to the movie as the women are weaving their way through the caves. i actually found myself getting uncomfortable because of it. (tight spaces just aren't my thing). anyway, the movie doesn't really serve up anything new, but you do get some inspired "ripley-esque" moments where a couple of the women really kick some ass.

as silly as the second half of the movie gets, it was fun to watch. and even when they don't bother to really explain the science behind the cave creatures, i found that i didn't care. it was just sort of neat to see some of these women really take action. while all beautiful, not one single female character is taken to be a sexpot or vixen. there is no gratuitous nudity or sexuality, which would have been really easy to do considering it's a movie with no men in it. i guess that's what makes the movie ingenious. that, and the fact that it doesn't skimp on the gore or meyhem. viewer discretion is advised.