Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Endless Love has awakened something in me. Not a long dormant passion for an introverted high school classmate, or a sudden desire to break into the zoo after dark. A question about movies — more accurately, about movie criticism. The same question you would ask yourself if you fell drowsy in the middle of Citizen Kane, or welled up during the emotional climax of Just Friends. The question I ask myself now, as I recount the 103 straight minutes of asphyxiating laughter that I endured during a screening of Shana Feste’s would-be romantic drama: What makes a good movie?
We assign deference to some films, disgust to others — a lucky few of us make a living this way. But what, precisely, are we reviewing? A film’s mission or its execution? The product onscreen or the experience of watching it? All factors come into play when considering whether or not a movie “works.” But on rare occasions you’ll get a film that offers no common ground in its meeting of these standards. You’ll get Endless Love, which strives for dramatic sincerity, winds up with underwritten idiocy, and provokes in its viewers an unrestrained, absurdist revelry — the kind of joy you’d otherwise be forced to seek in a third viewing of The Lego Movie. Laughter at the ill-conceived antics and befuddling dialectical patterns of our central teen couple — a Mars native Gabrielle Wilde and her gaping mouthed beau Alex Pettyfer. Elated bemusement at the younger generation’s propensity for chaotic disrobing and didactically organized dance parties. Unprecedented ecstasy at the Mafia movie intimidation tactics of an overprotective dad (Bruce Greenwood) and the brain-dead disregard of a supportive one (Robert Patrick). As a comedy, Endless Love is unstoppable.
I can only hypothesize that it was not Feste’s intention to roll us in the aisles. I have no cold proof that her resolution in paving every nook in her Georgia-set remake with another farcical stone — Wilde’s instantaneous evolution from wordless ingénue to sexually aggressive spirit walker, Patrick’s loving caution-to-the-wind attitude regarding any situation that has to do with a girl, Rhys Wakefield’s “black sheep” character forming an odd amalgamation of Pauly Shore and Charlie St. Cloud — was not one of Wolf of Wall Street-like satire, or reappropriation in the vein of Spring Breakers. Here are two movies that earned scorn from viewers who read them literally, and in turn vehement defense from those who peered through the exaltation of cocaine and firearms into the filmmakers’ ironic intentions.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
To the latter community, one to which I subscribe, I ask: if we’re readily willing to dive deeper for Martin Scorsese and Harmony Korine, shouldn’t we grant Feste this benefit? If we’d defend the authenticity of the splendor we recognized in their movies, why am I inclined to write off the very same when present in this year’s Valentine’s Day cannonball? Why do I eagerly laud the merit in Leonardo DiCaprio directing Quaalude-charged tribal chants and relinquishing subhuman treatment upon anyone short a Y-chromosome, while instinctively shafting the invaluable merriment in Pettyfer’s goofily deliberate declaration that he likes to read into the category of happy accident?
But an even more precise question (one I was challenged to entertain by a friend and film critic far wiser than I am), and this time to the former community: does it matter? Did it matter to all those offended by gunplay and intrusive nudity that Korine set out to demonize youth culture and its omnipresent hedonism? Did considering his intentions make the endgame any less a visceral nightmare? If not, does it matter if Feste poured her soul into the machination of a timeless love story, only to produce a riotous cinematic episode that treads genre parody as expertly as anything from the golden age of the Zucker brothers? Does it matter that she didn’t intend for Wilde and Pettyfer’s sex scene to come off as super-hoke, for every mention of cancer to feel like soap opera send-up, or for Robert Patrick’s vindication of his son’s passion for menagerie trespassing to elicit the biggest laugh of a movie yet in 2014?
So long as I consider the power of cinema, I’ll never be sure if it matters. I’ll never be sure of the answers to any of these questions. But no matter where I find myself standing on this issue down the line, I had far too much fun at Endless Love — and entertained far too many questions on the nature of cinema and the way we react to it — to call it a movie that people shouldn’t see.
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Stevie Wonder turned his annual holiday benefit into a star-studded affair on Saturday (21Dec13) as he performed his classic double album Songs In The Key Of Life in its entirety, with a little help from the likes of John Mayer and Herbie Hancock. The Superstition legend delighted guests at the House Full of Toys gala by revisiting the 37-year-old album with many of the same bandmembers who had played on the original 1976 release.
Opening the show, he told the crowd, "Truly, I wanted to do this for years... but it felt like it was meant to be right now."
He was joined by a slew of musicians throughout the three-hour-long show, including Mayer on guitar for All Day Sucker, singer India.Arie on Saturn and R&B veteran Joe on tracks like Love's in Need of Love Today.
Wonder also reunited with Hancock for As, and recruited jazz musician Esperanza Spalding to play an upright bass for segments of the gig, which featured a nine-minute-long rendition of Isn't She Lovely, complete with an extended harmonica solo, reports RollingStone.com.
In between songs, the soul icon paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela and even brought young members of his family onstage to join him in the spotlight.
The string of collaborations took place two days after he teamed up with Bon Jovi rocker Richie Sambora to perform a duet on Silent Night at the 2013 Hollywood Christmas Parade.
The musicians entertained fans with a performance of popular Christmas carol Silent Night as part of the annual holiday event, and the Bon Jovi guitarist couldn't believe his luck.
He says, "It is almost beyond words. He was the guy that I emulated when I was a boy, and he taught me how to sing. It was an honour to meet your teacher. The first thing I did was whisper in his ear, 'I'm sure you get this a lot, but you were my inspiration as a singer.' The first thing he said is (sic), 'You do the first verse!'"
Top Story: Lopez Seeks Retribution From Former Manager
Jennifer Lopez filed a petition Wednesday with the California Labor Commissioner against her former manager, Benny Medina, and his company Handprint Entertainment, Reuters reports. The actress/singer is seeking millions in back commissions, claiming Medina violated the state's Talent Agency Act by procuring work for her without a license, thus voiding any contracts he was obligated to receive commissions for. In response, Reuter reports Medina issued the following statement: "The accusation that I misappropriated money from Jennifer Lopez is both untrue and offensive...Lopez, by making false allegations against me, is now trying to add me to the long list of people whom she has used and discarded after she took from them all she could get." He continued, "It is unfortunate that Ms. Lopez is using a Labor Commission suit as a means of mitigating her outstanding financial contractual obligations to my company and me ... I look forward to the opportunity to have the world come to know the real Jennifer Lopez. I will defend myself against these lies and will collect from her every dollar for which I am owed." Lopez is also seeking to dissolve any remaining partnerships with Medina and Handprint Entertainment.
Osbourne Explains Rehab
Young Jack Osbourne claims he made the decision to go into rehab because he realized he didn't want to turn out like his friends, he told MTV News. The 17-year-old son of Sharon and Ozzy said, "I took myself out of the picture for a second and I looked around at every single person in the room--at who they were, how old they were and what they had going on in their lives. A lot of them were near 30, unemployed, living off their parents," he said. "There were heroin addicts; there were the world's biggest couch potatoes. And it was like, I don't want to be like that. I don't want my life to be controlled by a drug." Osbourne returned home June 18 from a Pasadena, Calif., hospital after two months of treatment for alcohol and drug abuse, The Associated Press reports. He says he was addicted to OxyContin, a morphine derivative, and openly smoked pot and drank on the show.
No Divorce for Hunter and Stewart
Rachel Hunter apparently doesn't want to divorce husband Rod Stewart after all. Two days after filing a divorce petition against the singer, Hunter withdrew the court documents Wednesday, Reuters reports. No reasons were given for the change of heart. The couple, who has two children, were married 13 years ago but have been separated for the last four years.
Did He or Didn't He?
Rose Kogeman, a lawyer for Marion "Suge" Knight, told AP Wednesday that she had statements from eight witnesses who say Knight was not the one who punched a parking attendant June 21 outside a Los Angeles nightclub. Kogeman indicated it was another person, who couldn't be identified, who shoved the valet while waiting for a vehicle. The rap mogul was arrested last month for the alleged incident and could face another year in prison if it is determined he violated his parole.
Farm Aid Hits the Road
Farm Aid, which holds a benefit tour to raise money to keep families from losing their farms, is set to kick off Sept. 7 in Columbus, Ohio, AP reports. The lineup includes Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, who organized the first Farm Aid in 1985, and Dave Matthews, who joined the board of directors in 2001.
Jazz Flutist Herbie Mann Dies
Jazz flutist Herbie Mann, best known for ushering in the Bossa Nova craze in the 1960s, died earlier this week in Pecos, New Mexico after battling prostate cancer. He was 73.
Role Call: Fey's a Mean Girl, Hayek Loves the Sunset
Saturday Night Live's head writer, Tina Fey, has written and will co-star in Paramount's Mean Girls, an adaptation from Rosalind Wiseman's best-selling nonfiction book, Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film follows a teenager who has lived mostly abroad but returns with her family to the States and experiences firsthand how cruel girls can be in high school…meanwhile, Salma Hayek will star opposite Pierce Brosnan in New Line's After the Sunset, a caper drama which takes place after a big heist is over. According to the Reporter, the film is about a master thief (Brosnan) who sails off to an island paradise after his last big score only to run into his nemesis, an FBI agent, who wants to make sure the thief is retired for good.