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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
The honeymoon in Vegas is over. (And apparently has been for a long, long time.)
Oscar-winning star Nicolas Cage and actress/wife Patricia Arquette are divorcing after nearly five years of marriage, Arquette's publicist confirmed today.
Arquette, Cage Cage, 36, filed the petition Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing the dreaded "irreconcilable differences." The split was described as "amicable" and "a mutual decision" by Arquette's rep, Simon Halls.
The real shocker is Cage's divorce petition: It says the couple separated just nine months after they wed -- roughly four years ago.
Rumors had been circulating about the couple's happiness for the past few years. While the two often were arm in arm at premieres and award shows, onlookers commented that they looked about as thrilled as siblings forced to share the backseat on a road trip. The two have subsequently been tight-lipped about their marriage, although Cage recently told Movieline "you don't just throw in the towel when there's any kind of a problem."
The couple, who recently co-starred in Martin Scorsese's "Bringing Out the Dead" met in 1987. Cage was so besotted that he was said to have immediately declared, "I love you, and I'm going to marry you."
She didn't believe him, so he asked her to put him on a "mission" to prove his love to her. Legend has it, Arquette, now 31, complied by giving him the most Herculean of scavenger hunts, demanding items such as a black orchid and reclusive author J. D. Salinger's autograph.
Cage succeeded in obtaining the autograph (for the record, there are no black orchids), which impressed -- and probably frightened -- Arquette, who told him to forget about the rest of the list. She agreed to go on a getaway to Cuba with him, but when the trip fell through and Cage's decidedly unattractive temper flared, Arquette split.
During their time apart, Cage squired actress Sarah Jessica Parker and model Kirsten Zang, to whom he was engaged until 1994. Arquette kept company with Christian Slater and Matthew McConaughey. They both also became parents, he to son Weston Coppola Cage, now 9, with his then-girlfriend Kristina Fulton; she to son Enzo, now 11, with Paul Rossi. The two remained close friends until they crossed paths again in 1995.
This time, after a Pamela Anderson-Tommy Lee-length courtship, it was love, and the two wed April 8, 1995. But it was Arquette who proposed, showing up at Cage's house dressed head to toe in black vinyl, carrying a big purple wedding cake.
"I knew I was with the right woman," Cage said in a TV interview.
One would think the match was one made in heaven (or at least Hollywood), since both Cage and Arquette have famous bloodlines. Arquette is the younger sister of Rosanna ("Desperately Seeking Susan") and older sister of David, the "Scream" actor married to Courteney Cox. Cage's lineage includes uncle Francis Ford Coppola. As a young actor, Cage dropped the family name and adopted the moniker of comic-book strongman Luke Cage.
Cage, whose scored his first leading role in 1983's "Valley Girl" and began garnering notice in "Peggy Sue Got Married," directed by his uncle, shot to the A-list when he won the 1995 Best Actor Oscar for "Leaving Las Vegas." Of late, he has gone onto fashion himself as a action star in flicks such as "The Rock," "Con Air" and "Face/Off."
Arquette is perhaps best known for heating up the screen with Slater in "True Romance" (1993).