At the moment there are few greater clichés in the media than the freaking out single woman on the cusp of 30. Of course clichés are clichés for a reason worth exploring even through the lens of just one or two women as in Lola Versus. Unfortunately while the intention behind Lola Versus isn't that we should all be happily married by the age of 30 it still fits into the same rubric of all those "Why You're Not Married" books.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) has a gorgeous fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman) and they live in a giant loft together the kind of dreamy NYC real estate that seems to exist primarily in the movies. Just as they're planning their gluten-free wedding cake with a non-GMO rice milk-based frosting Luke dumps her. It's cruelly sudden — although Luke isn't a cruel man. Lola finds little comfort in the acerbic wit of her best friend the eternally single Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones) who is probably delighted to see her perfectly blonde best friend taken down a peg and into the murky world of New York coupling. Lola and Luke share a best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater) a messy-haired rumpled sweetheart who is kind and safe and the inevitable shelter for Lola's fallout. Her parents well-meaning and well-to-do hippie types feed her kombucha and try to figure out their iPads and give her irrelevant advice.
Lola Versus is slippery. Its tone careens between broad TV comedy and earnest dramedy almost as if Alice is in charge of the dirty zingers and Lola's job is to make supposedly introspective statements. Alice's vulgar non-sequiturs are tossed off without much relish and Lola's dialogue comes off too often as expository and plaintive. We don't need Lola to tell Henry "I'm vulnerable I'm not myself I'm easily persuaded" or "I'm slutty but I'm a good person!" (Which is by the way an asinine statement to make. One might even say she's not even that "slutty " she's just making dumb decisions that hurt those around her just as much as she's hurting herself.)
We know that she's a mess — that's the point of the story! It's not so much that a particularly acerbic woman wouldn't say to her best friend "Find your spirit animal and ride it until its d**k falls off " but that she wouldn't say it in the context of this movie. It's from some other movie over there one where everyone is as snarky and bitter as Alice. You can't have your black-hearted comedy and your introspective yoga classes. Is it really a stride forward for feminism that the clueless single woman has taken the place of the stoner man-child in media today? When Lola tells Luke "I'm taken by myself. I've gotta just do me for a while " it's true. But it doesn't sound true and it doesn't feel true.
In one scene Lola stumbles on the sidewalk and falls to the ground. No one asks her if she's okay or needs help; she simply gets up on her own and goes on her way. It's a moment that has happened to so many people. It's humiliating and so very public but of course you just gotta pick yourself up and get where you're going. In this movie it's a head-smackingly obvious metaphor. In one of the biggest missteps of the movie Jay Pharoah plays a bartender that makes the occasional joke while Lola is waiting tables at her mom's restaurant. His big line at the end is "And I'm your friend who's black!" It would have been better to leave his entire character on the cutting room floor than attempt such a half-hearted wink at the audience.
Lister-Jones and director Daryl Wein co-wrote the screenplay for Lola Versus as they did with 2009's Breaking Upwards. Both films deal with the ins and outs of their own romantic relationship in one way or another. Breaking Upwards a micro-budget indie about a rough patch in their relationship was much more successful in tone and direction. Lola Versus has its seeds in Lister-Jones' experience as a single woman in New York and is a little bit farther removed from their experiences. Lola Versus feels like a wasted opportunity. Relatively speaking there are so few movies getting made with a female writer or co-writer that it almost feels like a betrayal to see such a tone-deaf portrayal of women onscreen. What makes it even more disappointing is how smart and likable everyone involved is and knowing that they could have made a better movie.
The Associated Press reports Dawson's Creek star Joshua Jackson was arrested and charged with assault on Saturday after getting into a drunken fight with a security guard at a hockey game in North Carolina. While at a game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jackson allegedly grabbed a guard around the neck and hit him. Tests show the actor's blood alcohol content was 0.14. The 24-year-old actor, who plays Pacey on the WB series, posted $1,000 bail and will appear in court Dec. 4.
A woman was arrested Monday in connection with the shooting death of actor Merlin Santana, though the Los Angeles police have not released the identity of the woman at this time, the AP reports. Santana, 26, who starred in the film Showtime and made appearances on TV series such as Moesha and The Steve Harvey Show, was killed while sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car early Saturday morning in South Los Angeles.
Halle Berry may be getting her own super-spy movie. After her stint as the tough-as-nails Jinx in the upcoming James Bond film Die Another Day, Reuters reports there are now talks between Berry and Bond producer Barbara Broccoli to make the first spin-off movie in Bond history, based on the beautiful but dangerous U.S. agent. According to Reuters, cable network E! Entertainment quoted Berry as telling its reporter that if a spin-off was planned, "I would do it in a heartbeat."
Roberto Benigni's newest film Pinocchio, which hits theaters Dec. 25, will be Italy's official entry for the Academy Awards' Best Foreign Film category. Benigni's endearing Life is Beautiful took home that award in 1999 and earned him the Best Actor award as well.
Volatile director Larry Clark's (Kids) edgy and sexually explicit film Ken Park will have to find a new U.K. distributor after he punched out the president of the film's distribution company, Metro Tartan. Variety reports Clark got into a brawl with Metro executive Hamish McAlpine over the Arab-Israeli conflict last Thursday in a London restaurant. The company announced Monday it was dropping the film, which follows a group of California skateboarders, after Clark told Variety he was going into an anger management program. Probably a good idea.
Howard Stern's comic sidekick Artie Lange may get his own sitcom at NBC. Variety reports he is developing the DreamWorks pilot for the network with veteran Simpsons scribe Sam Simon. The series will star Lange as a successful sitcom star who has to continually deal with his blue-collar roots.
ABC and Steve Martin's production company Martin/Stein Co. are developing a gay version of the hit '80s show Hart to Hart called Mr. and Mr. Nash, Variety reports. The show's premise revolves around two interior decorators who stumble upon a murder each week. British thesp Alan Cumming (Spy Kids) has already signed on to play one of the leads. "I am proud to be a part of Mr. and Mr. Nash, especially the part where it's a big hit," Martin told Variety.
Variety reports ABC News is denying a claim from rival networks that it paid Paul Burrell, the butler to Princess Diana who has been causing much controversy in the U.K, for an interview. A U.S. broadcast rights deal reportedly includes Burrell's documentary, Diana's Rock, which will appear on Good Morning America next Monday; an interview Burrell did with British journalist Sir Trevor McDonald; and a one-on-one interview with Burrell for 20/20. ABC News insists, however, that it does not pay for interviews and that the one-on-one was arranged separately.