27 September 2013

We're the Millers

I went into this with extremely low expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised: there were some genuinely funny moments. There were even some that weren't in the trailer (though not many). It's not a masterpiece, or a barrel of laughs, but it's an entertaining movie.

The major weakness, I'm sorry to say, is Jennifer Anniston, who is just not convincing as a stripper. It's not her fault that she's a skinny little thing without much to jiggle in a customer's face, but one can hold her accountable for her utterly robotic movements. Have any of the filmmakers ever been to a strip club? They feature a very specific style of dancing. I saw no examples of it in this film.

The movie makes a thankfully small gesture towards the typical Hollywood moralizing and personal growth, so while it's somewhat eye-roll-y, it's also easy to overlook. And it does manage to muster a couple of genuine awwww moments.

Overall - not something to rush to the theatre for, but if you're wondering what to get at the Redbox some lazy Friday night in the future, you could do worse than this.

24 September 2013

The Hairdresser

This randomly caught my eye as I was skimming the foreign offerings on Netflix Instant. It is a total charmer. A very pleasant movie about a very large woman who wants to be a hairdresser. When a shop refuses to hire her because of her size, she launches a mission to open her own place next door. It's a feel-good story, but not in a saccharine American way, in a robust, semi-fatalistic European way. Plenty of things go wrong, and life isn't perfect, but by golly, we do the best we can and find pleasure where we may.

It's certainly nice to see a non-typical body type get represented as beautiful (you may quibble with me on this, but I felt that the camera lingered in a matter-of-fact but loving way on her curves). I also particularly appreciated the random appearance of a bunch of illegal immigrants from Vietnam and their effect on the storyline, because I'm a sucker for multiculturalism, and honest portrayals of immigration, and movies where someone encounters a foreign culture and falls in love with it and allows it to change his/her life (see also: The Visitor and Kinamand and if you have others you'd like to recommend, leave a comment. Gosh, I didn't write much about Kinamand, did I? It's funny; I hardly remember the film at all, but I do vaguely have the sense that I felt the same way after watching it as I did after this film - cheerful and content.

19 September 2013


A lot of people told me not to expect much from this movie, but for the first half I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Then it kinda declined, and then the last 20 minutes or so were so completely stupid that it turned me against the entire thing. Actually, I had a similar experience with District 9. But that movie was so much more intelligent, and featured vastly more astute political commentary. The only real "statement" here was a separation of classes, and the fact that the lower classes spoke Spanish. Although I was entertained at first, in retrospect, the plot is ham-fisted (do you even really need the super villain, or is he just there to add the suspenseful possibility of brutal rape?), the aesthetic is grainy and fairly similar to District 9's, and even the sci-fi technology is fairly tame. The movie is totally skippable. Though I will grant it this - Jodie Foster is great. And she gets to speak French! It's nice, too, to see a female super villain who isn't portrayed as aberrant, gender-wise. She's perfectly feminine, she just also happens to be evil. And she gets the cartoonishness of it just right, unlike the rest of the cast, which veers between lifelike and totally wooden cliche.