Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blue Valentine

Year 5, Day 47 - 2/16/13 - Movie #1,348

BEFORE: This was a last-minute addition to the romance chain - on the advice of counsel, I re-classified "Love, Actually" and "New Year's Eve" as holiday films, not romance films.  I mean, yes, they are both things, but do I want to watch films in February that are set in December?  Those films have been re-scheduled for the end of the year, and something has to replace them.  When I saw this film in the listings and made the Ryan Gosling connection from "Crazy, Stupid, Love.", I realized I could get another little actor chain going. 

You may wonder why I didn't watch this on Valentine's Day, since it's got "Valentine" right in the name.  First off, I didn't have a copy then, but more importantly, it seems like a darker film and I wanted to have a happier tone on the holiday.  Plus, it would have messed with my linking. 

THE PLOT:  The film centers on a contemporary married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods.

FOLLOW-UP TO:  "(500) Days of Summer"  (Movie #778)

AFTER:  I'm marking this as a follow-up since it's another film about the arc of a relationship, and one that bounces around liberally between the different stages of their coming together, and their falling apart.

9 times out of 10, I'm totally against a film that shows scenes out of order - usually because it's done in something close to random order, with little intent other than to confuse instead of inform.  BUT this is one of those rare purposes where going non-linear brings more meaning - scenes from early in the relationship are contrasted with the ones later on, and gradually more information is revealed about the true nature of their relationship, and there are some secrets you might expect, and others you might not. 

And some of the scenes are raw and tough to watch - particularly scenes of intimacy where one partner is more "into it" than the other.  While it wasn't forced sex, at least I don't think it was, it was more like resigned sex, and that's just sad.

Of course, you can expect some change over the course of a 7 (10?)-year span - and Gosling's character, Dean, evolves from a Brooklyn hipster to a Pennsylvania dirtbag - actually, he does hold down jobs in both places, moving furniture or painting houses.  But he's more focused on the relationship and being a dad than he is on his career.  Which isn't bad, it's just who the character is.

Still, he's a little one-dimensional compared to his wife, Cindy - there's a lot going on under the surface, and there are implications of depression, or possibly past abuse.  While she's got a better job and perhaps more ambition, there's also a sense that she feels trapped in her situation.  It seems whatever love she had for Dean may be gone, but she's unable to move on because of the effect on both Dean and their daughter.  Again, tough to watch.

I bet this film did well at festivals, because it has that darker tone, message of despair, and an ambiguous ending.  (Yep, nominated for the Grand Jury prize at Sundance...)  The fear with this sort of film, though, is that the negativity on the screen sometimes spills into a general feeling of unease against the film itself, felt by the audience. 

Also starring Michelle Williams.

RATING: 4 out of 10 moving vans

Friday, February 15, 2013

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Year 5, Day 46 - 2/15/13 - Movie #1,347

BEFORE: I completely forgot to mention our Valentine's Day dinner last night - actually, we went out to dinner the night before, to beat the restaurant rush.  Usually we go out a few days later, but the way the calendar fell, it made more sense to go out on a Wednesday night.  We even skipped our usual Feb. 14th restaurant in favor of one whose executive chef recently won a TV cooking competition (no, not that one, I mean "Next Iron Chef").  So, an excellent meal, followed by a clandestine exchange of greeting cards and chocolates, and I can't complain.

It's good to point out that watching films about divorce has not coincided with real-life events - thanks to all none of my friends who were concerned about that.  Divorce carries over as a topic tonight, and Julianne Moore carries over from "Laws of Attraction".

THE PLOT:  A middle-aged husband's life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a newfound friend, Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Dan in Real Life" (Movie #784)

AFTER: I'm marking this as a follow-up not just because of the presence of Steve Carell (last heard in "Despicable Me") as the lead actor, but also because this film also relishes putting him in extremely awkward situations, and that is where he seems to shine the best.  Asking women out in bars - very awkward.  Getting turned down - more awkward.  And not getting turned down somehow proves to be the most awkward of all.

As a man who's been married for 25 years getting back on the scene, his character, Cal, is pretty clueless - he doesn't know what NOT to talk about in bars, and his depressed ramblings bring him to the attention of Jacob, who does quite well with the ladies (again, it's a help to look like a Hollywood star).  Jacob agrees to tutor Cal in the art of picking up women, most likely to get his happy-time bar back.

The two sort of represent the two schools of thought when it comes to relationships - whether to pursue with diligence, or just relax and let it happen.  Cal believes in pursuit, that once you've found your soulmate you should go all in, and if things get rough, hang in there and never give up.  But Jacob's slickness and reputation allow him to be more laid-back, let things be what they'll be, and let the women come to him voluntarily (or, at least, make them think they're doing that...).

It turns out that Cal can learn some things from Jacob, not just conversation tips but also how to have a more relaxed attitude - and then later in the film, after Jacob meets a special girl, it's suggested that maybe he learned a few things from Jacob as well, because he starts talking about commitment, perhaps for the first time.

I'm not prepared to call learning to talk to women a "scheme", but there are a few love triangles here, or maybe it's more like a love hexagon, with each person infatuated by the next in some kind of disfunctional cascading chain.  And then it all comes to a head in one big blowout confrontation.  Again, awkward situations create some great moments.

But there's also a contrivance, which I will not reveal.  Suffice it to say that last night's screenwriting was too dumb, and the writing here is perhaps a bit too clever.  A key piece of information is not revealed to the audience until it becomes important, and that process is therefore a little suspect.  But it does make for a brutally honest depiction of romantic confusion. 

Also starring Ryan Gosling (last seen in "Lars and the Real Girl"), Emma Stone (last seen in "Easy A"), Marisa Tomei (last seen in "Cyrus"), Kevin Bacon (last seen in "Picture Perfect"), John Carroll Lynch, Beth Littleford, Analeigh Tipton, with a cameo from Josh Groban.

RATING: 6 out of 10 text messages

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Laws of Attraction

Year 5, Day 45 - 2/14/13 - Movie #1,346

BEFORE: Happy Valentine's Day, or Enforced Sentimentality Day, depending on how you look at it.  My previous V-Day movies have been "Chocolat", "Say Anything", "Valentine's Day", and "The Shop Around the Corner".  So why this film?  I've just got a feeling that this is a little more upbeat than some of this month's entries so far.

The topic of divorce lawyers carries over from last night, and linking actors from "Intolerable Cruelty", Geoffrey Rush was also in "The Tailor of Panama" with Pierce Brosnan (last seen in "The Ghost Writer").

THE PLOT:  Amidst a sea of litigation, two New York City divorce lawyers find love.

AFTER:  This is a story about opposing lawyers that find themselves in contention again and again, and you know what that can lead to.  A couple dinners out to discuss the specifics of a case, and before long, they're dating without really dating.  Would it really be so bad if they were dating?

She's a savvy lawyer, but she's also neurotic, self-centered, unable to admit she's lonely, and prone to hysteria and hyperbole.  On the upside, she looks like Julianne Moore.  He's a bit more shabby, a bit more crafty, but he cleans up pretty good and occasionally manages to look as suave as Pierce Brosnan should.

Unfortunately, half of the dialogue (Moore's half) is completely moronic.  Maybe she gets flustered around an attractive man, but the majority of her lines are either complete non sequiturs, or are statements that are so bloody obvious that they don't need to be said.  Example: after returning to her New York apartment, she says, "Well, here we are, back in New York!"  Yeah, thanks.  What's the one thing that doesn't need to be said when you're back in New York?  This is like panning down a shot of the Eiffel Tower, and then putting PARIS in text on the bottom of the screen.  

Eventually they end up representing opposite sides in the divorce of a fashion designer from a wild rock star.  (This character would ideally have been played by Russell Brand, but in 2004 Russell Brand hadn't been invented yet.)  This forces them both to travel to Ireland (NOTE: this next scene is in Ireland!), to check out a castle that's the main object both parties are fighting over.  While there, the lawyers attend a local festival, and realize that they're more attracted to each other than they are to the less-pretty locals. 

I suppose the drunk Vegas wedding thing has been played out, so the movie goes with the drunk Irish wedding instead.  And when they get back to New York ("Hey, we're back in New York!") another contrivance demands that rather than file for divorce, which would somehow be bad publicity (ironic for the woman who claimed there was no stigma to divorce) they pretend to live as a couple, and in a case of "Fake it 'til you make it", find themselves enjoying each other's company.

In the case of Moore's character, I'm not sure why she didn't fully embrace the concept of accidentally getting married - she had no other prospects, and given her personality, this seemed like her best option.  I kept thinking she was going to be a wreck when the whole thing was revealed as her faux-husband's scheme to get into her bedroom, but it didn't go that way.  Things end on a sweet note, so at least that justifies my choice of film tonight.  Still, it's just a bit too madcap, perhaps they were trying too hard to revive the feel of the screwball comedies of the 1940's.  

NITPICK POINT: In the social pages of NYC newspapers, there's a definite heirarchy of celebrity - movie stars, athletes and models dominate.  The private lives of lawyers are generally not "Page 6" material.

NITPICK POINT #2: These are supposedly top-notch lawyers, who check every little loophole for their clients, yet neither one takes the time to look into their own accidental wedding, to find out if it's genuinely legal?  Let's start with getting married in a foreign country, where neither is a resident.  Was there paperwork filed, are the signatures legible, were there witnesses?  I can sort of see this as a symbol that they secretly want to be married, but it's still a glaring oversight.

Also starring Julianne Moore (last seen in "The End of the Affair"), Frances Fisher (last seen in "The Kingdom"), Michael Sheen (last seen in "Tron: Legacy"), Parker Posey (last seen in "Mixed Nuts"), Nora Dunn. 

RATING: 4 out of 10 goat's nut shots

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Intolerable Cruelty

Year 5, Day 44 - 2/13/13 - Movie #1,345

BEFORE:  Following up with another film about divorce.  Direct linking is not possible, but Tim Matheson from "Divorce American Style" was also in the film "A Little Sex" with Edward Herrmann, who appears tonight.  (Alternatively, Jean Simmons was also in "How to Make an American Quilt" with Richard Jenkins.)

THE PLOT:  A revenge-seeking gold digger marries a womanizing Beverly Hills lawyer with the intention of making a killing in the divorce.

AFTER: Keeping with the theme of romantic schemes, what's a grander scheme than marrying for money?  Or should that be divorcing for money?

I went through what may have been one of the easiest divorces - a few months before splitting up, my first wife and I witnessed friends of ours, a married couple, go through a rough patch, and it seemed that the husband, who wanted out of the relationship, also wanted to keep the apartment.  This didn't seem right to us, we figured losing a Manhattan apartment in addition to a marriage was like adding insult to injury.  So when she wanted/needed to be out of our marriage, it seemed right that she should be the one who had to pack.  I wrote her a check for half of our money, and kept the bank account.

Months later, we got together to work out the paperwork, and we used a mediation lawyer, rather than 2 separate attorneys, which made the whole process faster, cheaper and easier.  The lawyer had to run down a checklist of possible property, like furs and jewelry and boats, and we had none of that, so we jokingly made little side deals, like "I'll keep the furs, and you can have the boat."  Meanwhile, the lawyer was probably wondering why we were laughing so hard - that's something they probably don't see a lot of in that line of work.

I did have to pay her in order to keep the condominium, but fortunately she wanted only half of the money we'd invested in it to date, not half of the full market value.  Still, that was a good chunk of change I had to raise in about a year's time, so I got a roommate for a year, and his rent went towards buying her out - easy peasy. 

Anyway, on to the film - can a film similarly wring some comedy out of divorce proceedings, cheating husbands and money-hungry wives?  Umm, yes and no.  I liked the framework of the "Battle of the Sexes", with each gender jockeying for prominence in the light of his affair and her lawsuit - after all, a divorce is a court case, and court cases are won by sharp lawyers who know all the angles.

That sort of spills over outside the courtroom - and everything becomes fair in the larger game of life.  Within the battle of the sexes are many smaller battles, and a revenge plot or two.  That's all well and good - and in a sense, the act of marrying for money gets portrayed as something equivalent to a complex heist, a la "Ocean's Eleven".

But what I can't condone is the automatic pigeonholing of each gender.  If every woman in the film happens to be a conniving gold-digger, then the film's overall message suggests by extension that every woman everywhere draws from that playbook, and I don't think that's the case.  On the flip side, if every man is portrayed as gullible and easily deceived, then what does that say overall?

I also disapprove of the bending of California divorce laws to be, essentially, whatever the plot needs them to be.  You can't just shoehorn in the rules when they provide a good turning point, and ignore them when they don't affect the plot at all.  Case in point:

NITPICK POINT:  A divorce is a legal document, and in addition to the spouses getting copies, each attorney would probably retain a copy, and then one probably gets filed with the state.  So while it's a grand gesture for someone to tear up a signed pre-nup, it's an empty gesture as well.  I'm betting the party at risk would go out of their way to find a copy to protect their assets - but this film relies on people naively tearing up the docuemnt a total of THREE times.  Didn't anyone think to check on the legality of this repeated situation?    So the pre-nup is "iron-clad" - a good writer should still be able to think of two or three ways around it.  Death of one of the parties, for example - or challenging the mental competence of the signer - but relying on the same device three times is just lazy screenwriting.

Starring George Clooney (last seen in "The American"), Catherine Zeta-Jones (last seen in "The Mask of Zorro"), Geoffrey Rush (last seen in "Les Miserables"), Cedric the Entertainer, Edward Herrmann (last seen in "Nixon"), Richard Jenkins, with cameos from Billy Bob Thornton (last heard in "Puss in Boots"), Julia Duffy.

RATING: 5 out of 10 daytime Emmys

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Divorce American Style

Year 5, Day 43 - 2/12/13 - Movie #1,344

BEFORE: Why, you might ask, am I focusing on divorce during a month dedicated to films about love and romance?  I could point out that it's a part of relationships, you have to take the bad with the good and so on, but my choices will be made more clear once we reach Valentine's Day - I'm building to something, I hope.

Really, I'm continuing a look at the attitudes toward marriage in the 1960's - and trying to maintain some kind of linked actor chain at the same time.  Tony Curtis from "Sex and the Single Girl" was also in the gender-switching comedy "Goodbye, Charlie" with Debbie Reynolds, who appears in tonight's film.

THE PLOT:  A couple argues, then visits a marriage counselor,  They split up. After meeting other people, they are re-united at a night club where they realize that their marriage was better than their divorce.

AFTER: According to last night's film and this one, all that married people do is argue.  I'm not saying that they don't, but to only portray married people as bickering, selfish lunatics sort of reduces them to ridiculous stereotypes, like a cartoon Andy Capp and his wife.

This film opens with a dinner party, and then concentrates on the argument that follows - and once the shouting is over and neither spouse listens to or tries to understand the other, the fight continues silently as they prepare for bed and go about their nightly routines.  It's almost like an angry choreography, sliding closet doors back and forth, using noisy appliances to aggravate each other, aiming that clipped toenail JUST right, whether accidental or intentional, so it lands in their mate's personal space.  Did they ever consider just using the bathroom at different times? 

Sure, men and women may argue differently.  Women want to talk about their feelings, and then men write them off as emotional and irrational.  Men judge themselves by their income and material goods, and no doubt felt threatened when women became more assertive in the workplace in the 1960's.  There are germs of truth there, no doubt, but it all just feels so trite, like it's been covered before in so many other movies and TV shows.

There are intended comedy bits - like showing the free-for-all environment of a group of families as parents try to separate out the kids from their first marriages from the kids from their second marriages, and everyone needs to figure out who's got custody of who this weekend - but the chaos is so grossly exaggerated that the comedy got lost, and it just seems like a confusing mess, and sad.  Ha ha, one kid got left behind.  Not really funny, is it?

To the film's credit, it's a full 90 minutes before someone tries to pull a deceptive scheme - Mr. Harman gets a new girlfriend, and her ex-husband sets up the ex-Mrs. Harman with a new boyfriend, so she'll get married and not need alimony any more, and more of Mr. Harman's paycheck can go to support his new family, should things get that far.  It seems like a long way to go. 

Even though they're seeing other people, the movie tries to engineer Mr. and Mrs. Harman back together.  Somehow dating other people got them on the same page again (really? please explain how...) and they fall back into the same old pattern, which includes arguing.  So, they learned nothing, then?

What's sad is that even after they realize they might be perfect for each other again, the film can't allow them to express their feelings openly and honestly, as adults might.  Instead there's a hypnotist act in a nightclub that forces the issue, which is a cheap way to get there.  How do we know whether she has genuine feelings for her ex-husband, or obeying some kind of hypnotic suggestion?

As with last night's film, the overall message is unclear - should people get divorced?  Should they try to stay married?  Can they learn to share a bathroom?

Also starring Dick Van Dyke (last heard in "Curious George"), Jason Robards (last seen in "The Legend of the Lone Ranger"), Jean Simmons (last seen in "How to Make an American Quilt"), Van Johnson, with cameos from Tom Bosley, Lee Grant, and a young Tim Matheson.

RATING: 3 out of 10 hair curlers

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sex and the Single Girl

Year 5, Day 42 - 2/11/13 - Movie #1,343

BEFORE:  It's been quite a wild February for me so far in movies - I set the tone with "Picture Perfect", about a made-up boyfriend.  Since then I've seen married people pretending to be single ("Along Came Polly"), single people pretending to be married ("Just Go With It" and "Cactus Flower"), people hiding affairs ("The Dilemma" and "Same Time, Next Year"), people NOT hiding their affairs ("The Four Seasons" and "How to Make an American Quilt") and even a guy faking a back injury ("The Fortune Cookie"), all in the name of love.  Umm, and for insurance money, and maybe a promotion or two.

This theme continues tonight - and it's easy to link from Jack Lemmon to Tony Curtis (last seen in "Spartacus") in that movie where they dressed in drag, that bromance "Some Like It Hot".

THE PLOT:  A womanizing reporter for a sleazy tabloid magazine impersonates his hen-pecked neighbor in order to get an expose on renowned psychologist Helen Gurley Brown.

AFTER:  Heh, this movie even name-checks Jack Lemmon twice, when Tony Curtis wears a woman's robe at one point.

I'm not really qualified to comment on the sexual revolution of the 1960's - I was just an infant at the tail end of the decade, but here is what I do know:  Helen Gurley Brown wrote a book called "Sex and the Single Girl", and this film is based on just the title of the book, not any of its contents.  The book was published when she was 40, but the character of Helen Gurley Brown in this film appears to be only 25 or so - yet somehow she's got her doctorate already, and is working at an "institute".

The book in the real world covered many topics, including sexual freedom, living on a budget, advice for eating well, staying fit, and succeeding in the workplace.  Yet in the film version, the fictional Ms. Brown refers to "that best-seller I wrote", and it seems to be all about how to land a man.

This makes the fictional Ms. Brown a target for a tabloid magazine that wants to tarnish her image - but since she claims to be sexually free, the only way the magazine can defame her is to find evidence that she's a virgin.  It seems like a strange twist on the old double-standard - if you can't call her a slut, go the other way and prove she's not an expert on the topic.

Everyone at the tabloid, called "Stop" for some reason, congratulates each other for being part of a terrible magazine, and I found this very confusing.  Are they good at being bad, or are they bad at being good, and if so, then why are they proud?  And if they're trying to put out a bad magazine, how can they tell if they've succeeded?  And if they've succeeded at being bad, what's good about that? 

But then I remembered what's hot in tabloids right now, shows like "TMZ", which are not only poorly produced (Do they HAVE to film every episode in their cubicled common area?  Can't they afford a central table?) but also committed to the lowest form of guerrilla journalism - ambushing jet-lagged celebrities at the airport and asking loaded questions like "Have you stopped beating your wife?"  I do imagine at the end of the day the people involved congratulate each other by saying, "Hey, bad job today, Harvey!" and "You too, Frank, keep up the bad work!"

So this non-married tabloid writer checks into Dr. Brown's clinic while pretending to be his married neighbor - because back then, nobody checked your I.D. or insurance when you went to a clinic - and tries to get close enough to seduce the female doctor.  This was also confusing, because if he seduces her and she's halfway decent in bed, doesn't that mean she's not a virgin, which would ruin his story?  So his goal is to get close enough to FAIL to seduce her, which would prove exactly nothing?  This is either a terrible plan or a poorly conceived plotline, or both.

On one level, his plan does work, because the doctor who espoused sexual freedom and said that women could "have it all" apparently throws her beliefs out the window and falls for the first halfway decent looking married man she treats.  Maybe it's that doctor-patient transferrence thing.  But just like the girlfriends in "Cactus Flower" and "Just Go With It", she demands to meet the (pretend) wife.  And then the scheme starts to unravel, just as it has almost every night this month.

It's tough to say what the message here is, or if there's any message at all.  The married man whose identity gets borrowed claims to be a faithful, but incredibly busy, husband.  But he sells women's stockings, so that involves looking at a lot of leggage, and dealing with models with nice legs, so who can say?  And his wife is little more than a stereotype, bouncing between madly in love and breaking the furniture while throwing him out of the house.  They seem to always be on the verge of splitting up, yet are somehow back in each other's arms the next day, with little explanation.  It's a strange depiction of marriage.

It all wraps up with a madcap car chase through L.A.'s still-being-built highways, (even crazier than the one at the end of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World") with so many people changing cars and romantic partners, it's tough to keep track of who's in love with who, or who's passing who on the way to the airport.  As to who really SHOULD end up with who, your guess is as good as mine.  What I want to know is who said, "You know, what this self-help book adaptation really needs is a good old car chase!"

NITPICK POINT: Apparently back in the 1960's you could just switch plane tickets with other people too, since airlines never checked the IDs of passengers, either.  

Also starring Natalie Wood (last seen in "Splendor in the Grass"), Henry Fonda (last seen in "The Grapes of Wrath"), Lauren Bacall (last seen in "The Big Sleep"), Mel Ferrer, with cameos from Larry Storch and Stubby Kaye.

RATING: 3 out of 10 Bavarian pretzels

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Fortune Cookie

Year 5, Day 41 - 2/10/13 - Movie #1,342

BEFORE: Happy Chinese New Year!  Here's a "Fortune Cookie" for you - it was either this film or "Breakfast at Tiffany's" tonight, and from the clips I've seen, Mickey Rooney playing a Chinese man seems quite racist...

I'm not sure if this one qualifies as a straight-up romance, but the IMDB puts it in that category, along with comedy.  Such are the perils of scheduling films before watching them, but at least it keeps my linking alive one more day, as Walter Matthau carries over from "Cactus Flower".

THE PLOT: A crooked lawyer persuades his brother-in-law to feign a serious injury.

AFTER: This one starts with a big football game on CBS - which ties in with last week's Super Bowl.  I didn't talk much about it at the time, I just did my job and tracked the ads this year, since I didn't care about either team.  References are made to "30 million" people watching the game, which suggests a mid-1960's playoff game, but that's not possible - why?  Because the Cleveland Browns are seen playing.  ZING!

Concessions have to be made to the year this was made - this was before tort reform, but also back when a million dollars seemed like an amazing amount of money.  Last week I caught a few minutes of a documentary called "Hot Coffee", about that infamous lawsuit against McDonald's after a woman was scalded by the titular beverage.  You might have an opinion already about the validity of that case, but the film changed mine in 5 minutes - that woman needed serious skin grafts.

I served on a jury once where the case was a construction-site accident.  We never had to assign damages, since the two parties were working on a settlement the whole time - whenever the jury members left the room, the proposed amounts got a little closer together, apparently.

But this film clearly concerns a fraudulent suit - the romance part comes when the "injured" man realizes that with some sympathy, he can convince his ex-wife to return to him.  Which also might seem like a good idea at first, but not if you think it through.   This does fit in with "Cactus Flower", "Same Time, Next Year" and "Picture Perfect", because it starts with one lie that then must be supported by dozens more, and eventually starts to unravel. 

While I don't condone insurance fraud, I still thought that the ambulance-chasing lawyer made some good points - who's to say that a back injury won't manifest itself later on?  Or a head injury - some NFL players have trouble years later, and those guys wear helmets!  The guy's at least due something for "pain and suffering", even if it's just for being a Browns fan...

ASIDE: Jeez, remember back when you could smoke inside a hospital?  No, me neither...

Still, it feels I may have gotten a bit off-track, in a month that should be devoted to more romantic endeavors.  So I'll try to right the ship tomorrow...

Also starring Jack Lemmon (last seen in "Missing"), Ron Rich, Judi West, Cliff Osmond with a cameo from William "Father Mulcahy" Christopher. 

RATING: 4 out of 10 x-rays