After Dark Films
It seems a bit odd to take on a movie review of Courtney Solomon's Getaway, as only in the loosest terms is Getaway actually a movie. We begin without questions — other than a vague and frustrating "What the hell is going on?" — and end without answers, watching Ethan Hawke drive his car into things (and people) for the hour and a half in between. We learn very little along the way, probed to engage in the mystery of the journey. But we don't, because there's no reason to.
There's not a single reason to wonder about any of the things that happen to Hawke's former racecar driver/reformed criminal — forced to carry out a series of felonious commands by a mysterious stranger who is holding his wife hostage — because there doesn't seem to be a single ounce of thought poured into him beyond what he see. We learn, via exposition delivered by him to gun-toting computer whiz Selena Gomez, that he "did some bad things" before meeting the love of his life and deciding to put that all behind him. Then, we stop learning. We stop thinking. We start crashing into police cars and Christmas trees and power plants.
Why is Selena Gomez along for the ride? Well, the beginnings of her involvement are defensible: Hawke is carrying out his slew of vehicular crimes in a stolen car. It's her car. And she's on a rampage to get it back. But unaware of what she's getting herself into, Gomez confronts an idling Hawke with a gun, is yanked into the automobile, and forced to sit shotgun while the rest of the driver's "assignments" are carried out. But her willingness to stick by Hawke after hearing his story is ludicrous. Their immediate bickering falls closer to catty sexual tension than it does to genuine derision and fear (you know, the sort of feelings you'd have for someone who held you up or forced you into accessorizing a buffet of life-threatening crimes).
After Dark Films
The "gradual" reversal of their relationship is treated like something we should root for. But with so little meat packed into either character, the interwoven scenes of Hawke and Gomez warming up to each other and becoming a team in the quest to save the former's wife serve more than anything else as a breather from all the grotesque, impatient, deliberately unappealing scenes of city wreckage.
And as far as consolidating the mystery, the film isn't interested in that either, as evidenced by its final moments. Instead of pressing focus on the answers to whatever questions we may have, the movie's ultimate reveal is so weak, unsubstantial, and entirely disconnected to the story entirely, that it seems almost offensive to whatever semblance of a film might exist here to go out on this note. Offensive to the idea of film and story in general, as a matter of fact. But Getaway isn't concerned with these notions. Not with story, character, logic, or humanity. It just wants to show us a bunch of car crashes and explosions. So you'd think it might have at least made those look a little better.
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Memo to Disney: You know how you were spending a bunch of time and billions of dollars indoctrinating little girls into princess culture, and you took a bunch of heat for that? Well, this new game of yours, wherein you instead teach young women how to “climb the social ladder” by mimicking the worst of chick lit tropes, is not the right direction to move from there.
The City Girl video game apparently attempts to bridge the gap between watching The Little Mermaid DVD on repeat and watching Sex and the City reruns, aiming to capture 20-something women interested in gaming. In some ways, it’s a clever marketing racket, since 20-something women are the ones who grew up during the height of Disney’s princess culture, which is now a dying business thanks to Dreamworks’ cooler cartoons and, one can hope, some more progressive thinking on the gender-role front.
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This game, however, does not bode well for Disney’s grown-up girls. It takes the broadest strokes from the worst hot pink-covered paperbacks and reductive rom-coms and makes them steps in a simulated life trajectory “from country bumpkin to glamour girl.” (Has Girls not disabused everyone of this fantasy yet? It ain’t always as sparkly as it looks over here in NYC, kids! Props for the diversity and the hot girl with glasses in this logo, though.)
In some ways, the game reveals some truths, but they're more about the literary and film genres it’s emulating than about real life. Namely, it shows how consumerist our societal vision of young women has become: Highlights of the game include customizing your avatar to compete with friends in “daily look” competitions and decorating your dream home. (Hahahaha, incidentally. Decorating my dream home in my 20s consisted of getting splinters from trying to assemble the $99 futon I bought at Walmart and eating off of a cardboard-box table. How about you?) Oh, the City Girl will also “discover the best places to shop and hang out, choose from a variety of glamorous career paths, and visit exotic locations.”
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Having played for a few minutes, the game seems not only unrealistic but just plain tedious to me. I like makeup in real life, but interacting with the physical stuff — the pretty packages, the sensuous colors — is what’s fun. Clicking on “black eyeshadow, heavy,” is not really engaging to me. And minor quibble: I couldn’t seem to find boots to put on. Apparently it’s only heels or sandals in this world, at least as far as I could tell. I’m a boots girl, so this upset me.
Of course no one expects any gaming to be realistic. Neither Super Mario Brothers nor Halo is an accurate depiction of young men’s lives. But that’s just the point — couldn’t young women get games with a little more imagination, a little less OMG shoes!? Hell, even the little mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast had more interesting adventures than trying to social-climb their way up to a Park Avenue penthouse. That is, before they settled down with those princes, anyway.
You can get a peek inside in the trailer here:
Hollywood.com correspondent Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the author of two forthcoming books, Sexy Feminism and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. For more information visit JenniferKArmstrong.com.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jmkarmstrong
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There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
Ewan McGregor is Christian a romantic at heart who moves to the seedy Montmartre district of Paris to become a playwright. He and the raucous bunch of Bohemians he meets which includes artist Toulouse Lautrec (John Leguizamo) develop a stage musical to star the seductively beautiful Satine (Nicole Kidman) a famous courtesan and the Moulin Rouge's principal singer. The minute Christian lays eyes on Satine he's infatuated--and she winds up falling deeply in love with him despite herself. But the evil English duke (Richard Roxburgh) who is funding their show will only do so for a price-he's obsessed with Satine and wants her for himself.
Since much of this story is told via song (modern pop tunes and a few originals) the pressure was on the two leads to carry it off. Rumor has it Heath Ledger and Catherine Zeta-Jones were once the frontrunners for these roles--this movie certainly doesn't suffer without them. Nicole Kidman reveals herself a lovely singer particularly when performing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" while suspended over the Moulin Rouge audience. Hunky Ewan McGregor as the heartbreakingly honest Christian is truly outstanding with a radiant smile and surprisingly beautiful singing voice to boot (who knew?). John Leguizamo overdoes it a wee bit as does Richard Roxburgh as the Duke but it's all in the crazy-quilt spirit of the film.
A shiny sparkling pinwheel of a production Moulin Rouge might be the most gorgeous movie you'll ever lay eyes upon. The costumes are fabulous (dolled up Nicole Kidman makes them positively breathtaking) as are the fairy tale sets and Goya-esque makeup. Mainstream audiences will likely reject director Baz Luhrmann's irreverence and whimsy; some scenes are overlong some are so swoopily herky-jerky your head spins. But Luhrmann may have done what hasn't been done since The Sound of Music in 1965--created a successful live-action musical one that could reinvent the genre. A gravelly voiced Boho warbles The Police's "Roxanne" as dancers tango; David Bowie does Nat "King" Cole's "Nature Boy"; and you've never seen Madonna's "Like a Virgin" performed quite this way before.