It must be awfully frustrating for Robert Pattinson and everyone involved in movies with him to be hamstrung by studios that want to take advantage of his Twilight fan base. There's no other explanation for this fangless adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's classic novel about a mercenary young lad who beds society ladies for political leverage. Oh and because he can.
As Georges Duroy the titular bel ami Pattinson skulks sulks and glowers his way through Paris in the 19th century. The dirt poor former solider runs into a comrade from the war who is now a powerful newspaper editor; Charles Forestier (Philip Glenister) who takes pity on the filthy drunk tosses him a few gold pieces and invites him to dinner. Madeleine Forestier is the brain behind the operation and she advises Duroy to cozy up to the other society ladies as they're the ones with the real power. Duroy gets a gig writing a column for the newspaper which Madeleine actually writes for him and his career as a professional grifter begins.
The plot of Bel Ami revolves around the political environment of France just before its invasion of Morocco as much as it does Duroy's love affairs. It's a major motivating factor for many of the characters one that has been watered down or edited out to the point where it's almost an afterthought. This takes away a lot of the urgency and the sort of backstabbing deliciousness that one would expect from a piece like this. The stakes aren't that high until near the end when they come to a sudden head. Before that the story was meandering between Duroy's dalliances with a married woman and how he's scamming the newspaper.
Christina Ricci plays Duroy's lover Clotilde one of Madeleine's friends and although she's married there's no weight to the affair other than to show the supposedly sexy sex that has been both part of the movie's hype and it would seem its main marketing problem. Marketing problems are relevant here because they generally mean more and more edits are made until what was once a coherent movie becomes a confusing mishmash through little fault of those directly involved.
Their scenes are moderately steamy for an R-rated movie. They're obviously not appropriate for his so-called fan base but it's obvious that even before the Twilight franchise was nearing its run that Pattinson wanted to take a stab at actual acting. Although Duroy is a sh*t it seems unlikely that the final cut of the film is all that true to the book or even the vision of those involved.
That's a shame since Bel Ami looks lovely even if it comes off as occasionally goofy. Ricci is beautiful but her character is banal. The men are all fairly interchangeable cigar-smoking society types or ink-stained writers. The most memorable thing about Uma Thurman's performance is how elegantly she smokes her cigarettes and how she treats Duroy's lovemaking as if it were less interesting than a fly landing on her arm. As one of the society women that Duroy beds as part of his scheming Kristin Scott Thomas goes from a typically no-nonsense married lady to a mewling quim. Pattinson can't seem to find the right balance between rage and sweetness; it's actually impossible to tell who he's in love with when or why until he bursts out with statements like "I was the one getting f*cked!" Or was the audience?
Park Pictures is a production company that primarily creates commercials but has recently entered the narrative feature world with their upcoming film Robot & Frank. Apparently they’re just letting anyone make movies these days. Anyway, the film stars Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Jeremy Strong and Liev Schreiber, as the voice of the Robot. Not a bad cast for a first film, my first had a goldfish and my oversexed neighbor who didn’t understand the concept of thin walls.
The film follows Langella as an aging father with only one friend, the librarian played by Sarandon. Then his kids (Tyler and Marsden) buy him a caretaking robot (oh yeah, this takes place in the near future) and the two become odd friends. Whether the movie will be a sentimental little indie or a flat-out comedy chock full of old-man-futzing-with-technology jokes, only time will tell.
The Insomniac's Guide: The Best TV Past 11
Welcome to Hollywood.com’s Insomniac’s Guide to television, where we bring you our guide to strange, dark underbelly of television that is after-11 programming. So if you’re a night owl, or just want to set your TiVo, check out our recommendations for the week. But there’s no guarantee that these shows will look as good by the light of day.
Note: TV is recorded by the night, rather than date that it airs. For instance, if a show is on at 2 AM Tuesday morning, it will be listed as a Monday night show. All times EST.
Monday Night 7/5
Buffy The Vampire Slayer- 3 AM on Logo
Buffy’s 7th season is mostly a disaster, but the final episode of the show does its best to serve as a fitting capstone to the highly influential series. If you haven’t seen the series before, this isn’t the place to start, but if the semi-annual Twilight barrage is getting on your nerves, you could do worse than going back to the “classics.”
Tuesday Night 7/6
Rocko's Modern Life- 2:30-5:30 AM on Nicktoons
Rocko’s Modern Life is up there with Ren And Stimpy as a show where it’s hard to understand how it got on the air. It’s sly, funny, and unfailingly absurd, in a way that makes it perfect for late night viewing. Not to mention, it has more “how the hell did the FCC not notice this?” moments than any cartoon since South Park.
Wednesday Night 7/7
Donnie Darko- 11:35 PM on Encore
I don’t know if I would be brave enough to watch this movie by myself late at night. To be fair, I am kind of a wuss, but Frank the rabbit always really gets to me. Lately Donnie Darko has become almost synonymous with midnight movie, so you probably should watch it at night. Especially since a tired mind is more receptive to the slow-building scares, and less likely to notice the fact that the film makes very little sense.
Thursday Night 7/8
In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale- 2:30 AM on Syfy
When watching bad movies, it’s best to pick a film that won’t just be run-of-the-mill incompetent or dull, but exceptionally awful. One certain way of making sure that your film will be up to your standards of failure, just check the credits for Uwe Boll’s name. Boll’s films are famously and consistently hilarious, so if you’re a Mystery Science Theater fan or bad film connoisseur, Boll’s the best thing since Ed Wood.
Friday Night 7/9
Abraham Lincoln- 12 AM on Turner Classic Movies
It was the 4th of July this weekend, but just because the holiday is over doesn’t mean you can’t still get your history on. Not that this film is all that historically accurate: it focuses heavily on Lincoln’s relationship with Ann Rutledge, which seems a bit like making a film about Gandhi and devoting most of it to his high school sweetheart. But the film is basically a historical relic in itself, since it was made by film pioneer D.W. Griffith.
Saturday Night 7/10
American Psycho- 11:30 PM on IFC
Christian Bale is one scary dude. He hasn’t played a normal, non-creepy guy since Newsies, and he was like 12 in that. Sure, he technically plays a superhero in Batman, but his real-life persona seems a lot closer to Patrick Bateman than Bruce Wayne (judging by his dislike of “fucking distracting” lighting people on his sets). Bateman makes that crazy work like, well, crazy in American Psycho, and as a result the film is utterly fascinating, as well as gory and fun.
Sunday Night 7/11
Galaxy Quest- 2:30 TBS
Galaxy Quest goes where no film has gone before, into the realms of mocking Star Trek, science fiction, and nerd culture in general. Actually, that’s a place that several films have gone before, but none have done it with the sympathy and skill of Galaxy Quest. It’s clearly a labor of love from people who enjoy being nerds, not just mocking them. Plus, it has Sam Rockwell and Tony Shalhoub in two of the funniest roles of their career, and Alan Rickman at his droll best.
Extra: If Galaxy Quest has got you in the mood for Star Trek, the BBC is showing The Next Generation episode “I, Borg” Friday night at 11.