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.
Daniel Schorr, the last active member of "Murrow's Boys," the legendary
team of correspondents who covered the news for CBS in the '40s and
'50s, has compared the skills of his former colleagues with those of
current broadcast news personalities and have found the contemporary
In an interview with today's Boston Globe,
Schorr remarked that his onetime colleagues had originally been
"They had education, they traveled and they learned
languages, and they used words well -- all the things great newspaper
foreign correspondents used to do before we had all these pretty babies
Asked about recent suggestions that CBS, NBC and ABC
pool their resources and perhaps produce a single evening news program,
Schorr replied, "It's certainly not desirable, but it may be doable."
Never underestimate the power of Cable Hair. How else to explain the longevity of Cable News Network, better known simply as CNN, which signed on for the first time 20 years ago today, broadcasting then (as it does now), all news, all the time.
While Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Connie Chung and the other network news anchors have beamed into American living rooms with picture-perfect coifs, the wily news veterans employed by cable television's journalistic cornerstone sport Cable Hair.
You know the look (stiff, longish on the sides, just a little left of cool). These haircuts might not cut it on the big three networks, but they've served CNN well during two decades of round-the-clock coverage of history-making events (from the Iranian hostage crisis to Monica Lewinsky) and not quite history-making events (like that squirrel who could water ski, and Marlon Brando kissing Larry King on the lips).
Hair or not, these days it's hard to believe this powerhouse of cable TV journalism was started June 1, 1980, in the basement of a converted country club building.
Today, CNN is a key component of Ted Turner's ongoing media-empire merger with America Online, but back when Turner started the network, it was so low-budget that the anchors didn't have any TelePrompters.
According to legend, some of the anchors and reporters who joined up were initially paid $3.25 an hour, the minimum wage in those days. (Today, with the CNN News Group posting about $1 billion in revenues, we're betting they make at least twice that much.)
In those days, the snobs at ABC and CBS and NBC called it the "Chicken Noodle Network," and even the CNN staffers had their doubts that the 24-hour news format would work. Technical snafus didn't help, either.
"There were a lot of accidents, we were always tripping over ourselves," anchorman Lou Waters told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week. He recalled a broadcast wherein correspondent Daniel Schorr's pants caught fire when a light bulb exploded on the set. "He was on the air and said, 'Excuse me, I have to put out my pants,'" Waters said.
But then a funny thing happened: People started watching, particularly when not-so-funny things were happening (like the Challenger space shuttle explosion, the Persian Gulf War, the O.J. Simpson trial).
The proof's in the pudding, and in 1996, not one but two competing 24-hour news networks (MSNBC and the Fox News Network) were launched. So far, neither has duplicated CNN's reputation, though.
Why? Of course, it's the hair, stupid.