Saturday, February 15, 2014

No Strings Attached

Year 6, Day 46 - 2/15/14 - Movie #1,645

BEFORE:  I hope everyone had a pleasant Valentine's Day, I apologize that my movie selection turned out to be about teen pregnancy, abandonment and sexual molestation.  I think today's film is just about casual sex, so there's that.

My wife and I stayed in on Valentine's Day, we had already gone out to dinner on Wednesday night to our usual place.  But coming back on the subway, our 6 train was delayed leaving Grand Central and I looked out onto the platform, and there was my ex-wife, waiting for the 4 train.  I waved, but she didn't see me - the symbolism of that is not lost on me - but it was like a visit from the Ghost of Valentine's Day past.

Natalie Portman carries over from "Where the Heart Is" and completes a hat trick.

THE PLOT:  A guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical, but it's not long before they learn that they want something more.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "Friends With Benefits" (Movie #1,195)

AFTER: Before I review the film, I'm going to put my near-encounter with my ex to work here - it was a reminder to me that when you add my two relationships together, 7 years and 17.5, the cumulative total is more than half my age.  Meaning that I've spent more of my life in relationships than out of them - does this make me an expert?  Far from it, I try not to dispense relationship advice because everyone is different, relationships are complicated, and situations have an annoying habit of changing over time.

Besides, there's usually no way of giving out advice without relying on blanket statements or absolutes - "men are always looking for this", or "women are more emotional than men".  And the problem with blanket statements is that someone only needs to find one exception, and the whole argument is torpedoed.  "Should I commit?" "Should I settle?"  I don't know, you have to work that out for yourself, because it's your relationship and you will be most impacted by your decision.  I can't even say that I hate all absolute statements or the people who make them, because that in itself would constitute one.

But this is a time of year where people tend to deal in absolutes, and I generally find that ridiculous.  "I will love you forever!" (impossible)  "The perfect person for me is out there somewhere!" (possible, but unprovable)  "I'm going to find that perfect person and love them forever!"  Congratulations, you just added a set of impossible parameters to an unprovable concept.  Good luck with that.

Perhaps you've heard me point out that a relationship involves work - ideally it should be work that feels effortless, and work that you enjoy doing.  I like to think of relationships in terms of jobs because no one ever gets hired at a job and says, "This is the perfect job for me, and I'm going to work at it forever!"  Instead they say, "I love this job, it feels right for me, I'd like to see where this goes, but I reserve the right to change jobs if necessary."  How much more realistic would it be if we could say to each other on Valentine's Day, "I love you, this feels right, I'd like to see where this goes, but I reserve the right to change partners if necessary."  OK, maybe that last part should remain unspoken, but come on, it's usually part of the deal.

John Lennon once was asked about how long the Beatles would be famous, and he quipped, "You can say 10 years, but once you've said that, you'll be lucky if you last 6 months."  I think this is a much more healthy attitude.  A relationship only lasts while both people are on the same page, and if one turns the page, the other one either rolls with the changes, or gets left behind.  It's kind of like a staring contest, which only lasts until one person blinks, or gets tired of playing the game.

But that's not why you called, is it?  This film features two people who can't get on the same page, so they've opted for a casual relationship, vowing to end things at the first sign of actual attraction or anything close to emotion.  They have different reasons for choosing this set-up, he's just had his heart broken, and she's a busy medical resident with no time for the demands of a relationship.  I suspect there's more to her story that we're not seeing, she even says that when in a relationship she's not a nice person.  Either there's some abuse in her history, or she's prone to jealous rage, but the movie never goes there.  However, it's worth pointing out that this is the third film in a row where Portman plays a woman who keeps turning down the very obvious loving relationship she's presented with.

So, they take a shortcut, finding a way to get the physical aspect of love while getting by without the mental or emotional aspects.  He even correctly predicts that eventually one of them is going to want more.  First it's him, then later it's her.  I sort of appreciated that every time the characters thought they had a handle on how things were going, they sort of shifted again, which seems possible.  And the situation designed to subvert emotion and jealousy ends up mired in it, which also seems quite possible.

In my case - I was presented with a wife who was attracted to other people.  It happened to be women she was attracted to, but the principle is the same regardless of gender.  I had to make a choice, allow her to explore her feelings for other people, or try and put a stop to it.  Either way, the road taken was going to be the one that defined my future, and the road not taken was always going to make me wonder about it.  Perhaps if I had been a less jealous person, I could have turned a blind eye to her extramarital activity, but who knows, in the end the result might have been the same.  Instead I held on too tightly, which forced her to define herself, and at that point I was willing to chew my own leg off to get out of that trap.   

What the characters in this film end up learning about relationships is something that you can't teach, and you can't learn unless you live through it - how to have a relationship without holding on too tightly, and without letting go either.  It's kind of like when you try to lean back in a chair and balance it on just the back legs - if you lean too far back you'll fall over, but if you don't lean back enough, you'll fall forward and then you're not leaning at all.  But if it's your chair, and you know your own center of gravity, it can be done, and with enough practice, it can appear effortless, even though it's anything but.

NITPICK POINT: I get that she's a very busy doctor - but what's the reason why she can't work pleasuring herself into her schedule?  That would be even quicker, right?  She wouldn't have to call or text someone else...

Also starring Ashton Kutcher (last seen in "New Year's Eve"), Kevin Kline (last seen in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"), Greta Gerwig (last seen in "Greenberg"), Lake Bell, Olivia Thirlby (last seen in "United 93"), Jake Johnson (last seen in "A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas"), Cary Elwes, (also last seen in "New Year's Eve"), Ludacris (ditto) , Mindy Kaling (last heard in "Wreck-It Ralph").

RATING:  5 out of 10 donut holes

Friday, February 14, 2014

Where the Heart Is

Year 6, Day 45 - 2/14/14 - Movie #1,644

BEFORE:  Who am I mad at today?  Well, cable channels who can't admit they are running repeats against the Winter Olympics, so they're taking old episodes of shows I like, adding a few pop-up messages or trivia questions and then marking the episode as "New" so my DVR is forced to record it.  There's a special place in hell for you, basic cable programmers.  Remember, Dante's 8th circle of the Inferno is all about Fraud.

I'm steamed at UPS, too, for losing customs documents on a very important package to France, but most of my rage is now directed at Citibank, who closed all of their NYC branches yesterday due to "inclement weather", but they closed at 1 pm, after the snow had stopped and the streets were cleared, and things were starting to melt.  Why open during the worst of the storm, forcing employees to brave the harsh conditions to get to work, only to close in the afternoon once things were looking up?  Not all transactions can be done via ATM, so I was forced to walk through the slush for 45 minutes to visit 3 Citibank branches to deposit a check for work, with a sign on each branch directing me to the next branch, which was also closed.  Thanks for nothing, giant banking corporation.

OK, I'll admit I didn't research this plot first before slotting it here, I only scheduled it for today because it has "Heart" in the title.  So let's see how I did.  Natalie Portman carries over from "Anywhere But Here".

THE PLOT:  A pregnant 17-year-old rebuilds her life after being abandoned by her boyfriend at a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Oklahoma.

AFTER: Well, I did say that the romance chain from here on out would be fraught with difficulty, and this sure fits the bill.  It almost seems like someone was trying to test how much misery and human suffering could be depicted in one film.  To be fair, there is a love story here, but it takes a LONG chain of events to get to it, and then even when it gets there, it veers off into another direction for a while, due to denial on the part of the characters who are perfectly matched.

In the meantime, we're presented with a pregnant teen being abandoned by her boyfriend and giving birth in a Wal-Mart, which leads to a massive amount of shoplifting, if you think about it, and then we've got a case of mistaken identity which leads to her sponging off strangers for a while, until she can get her life together, which really is the main challenge of the film.  It's an odd choice to depict a character who doesn't seem to want things to get better, not at first at least - so she chooses to just hang out in front of the hospital after giving birth.  That's your plan?  Sorry, but a lack of a plan does not count as a plan.

The foil character is a woman who's got a whole brood of kids, who suffers through one disastrous relationship after another, each of which produces at least one more child.  So, she's a nurse who can't seem to figure out birth control?  Again, another odd choice.  Everyone is sort of stumbling through life, hoping that one of the twists of fate that keeps befalling them will somehow benefit them, which inevitably it does, but in the end those feel more like screenplay quirks that help to propel the plot, and keep the characters out of the poorhouse.

Without giving away the details, Oklahoma seems like a pretty terrible place to live and raise a family.  Perhaps giving birth in a Wal-Mart isn't such a bad idea after all, given the conditions of the local hospitals and the apparent intelligence of the nursing staff.  Some small consolation is that if you look like Natalie Portman, you will lose your baby weight in just under a month.  So there's that.

We also learn that one small lie can set in motion a chain of events filled with misery, heartbreak and despair.  And another small lie can separate people who are meant to be together, and people tell these small lies because they feel they have to, or they feel they're not good enough, or they're afraid to face their futures.  So, umm, don't tell lies.  And don't steal, unless you're pregnant, I guess.

NITPICK POINT: Novalee keeps a journal of how much money she "owes" Wal-Mart.  Even though she later gets a job there, that doesn't really count as paying them back, unless she's working for free.  Adding a short scene where she paid back the store would have gone a long way toward making her a more sympathetic character.

NITPICK POINT #2: So, Wal-Mart in Oklahoma doesn't have any security guards, night watchmen, or closed-circuit cameras?  Good to know.

Also starring Ashley Judd (last seen in "Twisted"), Stockard Channing (last seen in "Up Close and Personal"), James Frain, Dylan Bruno, Joan Cusack (last heard in "Arthur Christmas"), Keith David (last seen in "The Chronicles of Riddick"), with a cameo from Sally Field (last seen in "Lincoln").

RATING:  4 out of 10 alarm clocks

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Anywhere But Here

Year 6, Day 44 - 2/13/14 - Movie #1,643

BEFORE:  And we're hit with yet ANOTHER snowstorm.  I think the most idiotic thing about the snow these days, besides giving snow storms names, like they're hurricanes or something, is that fact that ALL of the local NY channels suspend their regular programming to send reporters out in parkas every time there's more than 2 inches of snow.  I really question their judgment in working outside while at the same time telling everyone else to stay home and stay warm.  No lie, this morning I watched a reporter interview a DOG that was being walked during the storm.  She asked the dog how he was doing, and I swear she seemed like she was expecting a constructive answer.  My point is, they've got nothing to report, so why suspend my game shows and daytime dramas?  Didn't we all learn from 9/11 that after any emergency we've got to get back to our normal lives, and that includes daytime TV?

Linking from "Sex, Lies, and Videotape", James Spader was also in "White Palace" with Susan Sarandon (last seen in "Little Women").

THE PLOT: A mother and daughter search for success in Beverly Hills.

AFTER:  In retrospect this might not have been the best choice for the romance chain, since it's largely a straight drama about a mother-daughter relationship.  This would have been a better choice for Mother's Day, but the judges have ruled that there is some dating in the film, so its position stands.  On with the countdown.

In this film a mother leaves her second (?) husband in Michigan and drives her daughter out to Beverly Hills for another case of "fake it 'till you make it".  She's got ambitions to be a teacher in a greay school district and for her daughter to be an actress, but she's also interested in marrying up.  So she flirts with hunky orthodontists on the beach (just think of how much she'd save, if only her daughter needed braces!) and in so doing, calls to mind a modern-day Holly Golightly, if Holly were a single mom. So maybe that's how this film DOES tie in.

I wondered if this was based on the life of Brooke Shields, though I suppose it could be the story of many a child actress with an overbearing stage mom.  I know Brooke Shields went to Princeton, and the daughter character here wants to attend Brown University, but that's still a big coincidence.  Though I suppose the difference lies in the fact that Shields was a successful child actress, and this character is a mere wannabe.

I suppose this has some value as a character study, but apart from that it seemed pretty pointless.

NITPICK POINT: If they needed money for the daughter to attend school, or just to live on, why wasn't contacting her father for child support an option?  They made reference to the fact that he had some money, but without giving a specific reason for not hitting him up for cash, it ends up feeling like they just never thought of it.  Which they must have done at some point.

NITPICK POINT: When characters in Beverly Hills want to watch the sun rise, they probably wouldn't go to the beach.  Because the sun rises in the east, so that's where you'd go to watch the sun SET over the water.  Damn, that one almost slipped by me.

Also starring Natalie Portman (last seen in "Cold Mountain"), Shawn Hatosy, Paul Guilfoyle (last seen in "3 Men and a Baby"), John Diehl, Bonnie Bedelia (last seen in "Speechless"), with cameos from Megan Mullally (last heard in "Bee Movie"), John Carroll Lynch (last seen in "Zodiac"), Rick Hurst, Thora Birch.

RATING:  4 out of 10 grunions

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Year 6, Day 43 - 2/12/14 - Movie #1,642

BEFORE:  Yeah, I definitely peaked too soon on the Valentine's Day thing.  To use a painting metaphor, with the Shakespeare films I was kind of stripping away the old paint from the previous chain, and then with the screwball comedies I sort of laid down a coat of primer.  "Breakfast at Tiffany's" was a decent enough top coat, and then "The Notebook" presented a beautiful mural of love and devotion over that.  Now that mural is barely even dry, and I'm going to start chipping away at it.  The next week or so of movies will still be romances, but will tend more toward lies, heartbreak, infidelity and deception.  And all that BEFORE I get to the Woody Allen films.

Linking from "The Vow", Channing Tatum was also in "Havoc" with Laura San Giacomo (last seen in "Once Around").  I must have some other link in mind when I set this one up, but I'll be damned if I can find it again.

THE PLOT:  A sexually repressed woman's husband is having an affair with her sister. The arrival of a visitor with a rather unusual fetish changes everything.

AFTER:  And, once again we've got a female character who is an artist - that's three in a row if you're scoring at home. Which makes my painting metaphor really timely...

But, I'm finally getting to this film, which won the Sundance Audience Award in 1989, and killed at the 1990 Golden Globes.  Look, I've been busy, OK?  Who knew Steven Soderbergh would go on to make such great movies, like um, (hold on a sec...) like "Erin Brokovich" and "Ocean's Eleven"! Not to mention "Traffic" and "Contagion"!

This is early, early Soderbergh.  I can see bad director habits, like crossing the axis.  Practically the first thing they taught us in film school was to never cross the axis.  In any scene between two people, you have to imagine a line between them, and you can put the camera anywhere on one side of that line, or even on the line itself, but you can't cut to a position on the other side, or the two people will appear to have suddenly switched places.   You see this a lot when two people are in a car, and they use that establishing shot through the front windshield.  Then they can cut to a close-up of each person, but the camera needs to stay on the near side of that imaginary axis.  If you cut to a shot from the back seat, the driver will now be on the right and the passenger will be on the left, and this could be visually confusing.  That axis gets crossed a lot in this film.

But let's move on to the subject matter.   This is another love-triangle film that eventually turns into a quadrangle, when a husband's college friend comes to town.  He's got a very specific kink, after a relationship ended badly he's only able to get excited by interviewing women about their sexual habits, who they've slept with and when, and basically how they get off, which is the thing that gets him off. 

ASIDE: Another thing I remember about film school - whenever someone wanted to bad-mouth a film, or decry the fact that a film had no point, instead of saying that the film was pointless, female NYU students would tend to say, "Well, this film is just masturbation!"  And I would sit in the class and think, "Well, what's wrong with masturbation?"  Why are the girls saying that like it's a negative thing?  As Woody Allen once quipped, "Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love."

Self-pleasure for men has been around since Biblical times - what most people don't realize about female masturbation, though, is that it wasn't invented until around 1879, I think by Susan B. Anthony.  (EDIT: OK, I admit I'm off by a few years here.  Clearly it was invented during the Civil War, because all those war widows needed to do something to keep their spirits up.)  It's kind of like how the tin can was invented in 1772 but nobody thought to invent the can opener until 1855.  (Why did people keep putting food in cans for 80 years if they couldn't access it?)  But since women are the fairer sex, they were all too embarrassed to talk about it until the mid-1970's.  That's when Cosmopolitan magazine allowed them all to realize that other women were doing it too.  I kid, but it's kind of true.

We see the lead character here in conversations with her therapist, and though she admits trying it once, she also felt really stupid doing it, so we can assume that she doesn't really see the point.  And since her husband is sleeping with her sister, it's tough to say whether the affair happened because of her disinterest in sex, or whether her disinterest in sex comes from dissatisfaction with her husband, or perhaps knowing, on some level, that he's cheating.  Kind of a chicken vs. egg sort of thing.

This is all about the mechanics of marriage, and when people have been married for a while, a couple of different things might happen.  They could fall into a routine where sex just isn't part of the picture, or more likely this could happen to one of them and not the other.  The other partner might then seek out an affair if they don't have another sexual outlet - this is where the benefits of self-pleasure really come into play.

But for a lot of people, the physicality of sex and the mental stimulation and the emotional intimacy  are all tied together.  It gets confusing when people get these itches scratched from different sources.  The review I just read of this film talks about "skeletons in the closet" and "self-destruction" but I think that over-simplifies things and really ends up missing the mark.

Ann no longer is interested in the physical part of sex, but she wants to remain married for the emotional intimacy.  Which is fine, except that she's being lied to, so in the end she doesn't even have that.  Her husband wants to have all three things too, which is typical human nature, but he's just getting the physical stimulation from one woman, and the emotional intimacy from another.  And Graham no longer has the need for the physical aspect, so he gets the mental stimulation and emotional intimacy from interviewing the women that he meets.  (and by watching videotapes - a condition commonly called "Ejectile Disfunction")  Ann and Graham are actually a better match when you break it down this way, but it takes them a while to realize this.

I think this film might have been quite ground-breaking in its day, but unfortunately by now it's old hat.  Compared to what you might see on the internet, or read about in "50 Shades of Grey", it now seems quite tame.  I feel like it's lost quite a bit of whatever shock value it once had.

Also starring Andie MacDowell (last seen in "Muppets From Space"), Peter Gallagher (last seen in "The Hudsucker Proxy"), James Spader (last seen in "Lincoln").

RATING: 4 out of 10 glasses of ice tea

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Vow

Year 6, Day 42 - 2/11/14 - Movie #1,641

BEFORE:  An obvious follow-up to last night's film, I think, since we're dealing with a woman losing her memory, a man who struggles to get her to remember their relationship, and Rachel McAdams carries over.   It's funny, I passed on both movies last February, but when the time came to plan the romance chain this year, both were available on cable and it somehow seemed like a better fit this year.

THE PLOT:  A car accident puts Paige in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo works to win her heart again.

AFTER: More similarities - the wife's parents who are opposed to the relationship, and there are other suitors available for both members of the couple, so the relationship has to triumph over many difficult challenges.  Oh, and the wife has an art studio in both films, that's a pretty big coinky-dink.

We're told at the end of the film that this is based on the story of a real couple, though I bet they didn't look like A-List movie stars.  I think you have to be careful with this sort of thing - though "Law & Order" has been running a disclaimer for years that any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental, yet they promote the show's plot as being "ripped from the headlines".  Well, which is it?  You can't have it both ways...

But I think having a character who cannot remember the recent past sort of puts this one a bit close to "Memento" territory, perhaps - where one character cannot remember his or her past, but everyone else can.  So they try to piece together bits of their past to figure out a course of action, but as such they are subject to being manipulated by other people, or perhaps faulty information.

In this case the husband is just trying to get his wife back to where she was before the accident, but her parents also see this as a chance to set their daughter back on her old track, which includes law school and living with them, and NOT her new husband.  It's a little strange that he married her and never met her parents before, but this is easily explained once you learn that she had severed all ties with them.

She does remember her old life, and her old boyfriend, so that sets up a love triangle similar to the one seen last night - should she choose the rich cad or the working-class stud?  He has to work extra hard to re-romance his own wife, and realize that even if they start over, they may never get back on the same page again.  Again I approve of the depiction of a relationship as something that requires effort, which it should be even for people without memory problems.

However, I can't help but feel a little manipulated by a film depicting a medical condition that seems designed to hit particular story beats.  And calling a restaurant "Cafe Mnemonic" seems like too much of a knowing wink to the audience, since a mnemonic device is a word or phrase that helps you remember something.  I get it, thanks.

Also starring Channing Tatum (last seen in "21 Jump Street"), Sam Neill (last seen in "The Horse Whisperer"), Jessica Lange (last seen in "All That Jazz"), Wendy Crewson, Scott Speedman (last seen in "Blue Valentine").

RATING: 5 out of 10 soundboards

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Notebook

Year 6, Day 41 - 2/10/14 - Movie #1,640

BEFORE:  Technically, we just passed the halfway mark of winter - but mentally I'm done with it all.  We tried to chop through the ice-wall that's blocking our driveway, but it was no use.  We're more or less housebound until the thaw.  This is what I don't get about the Winter Olympics - though I'm sure the ratings will be phenomenal, who the heck wants to watch winter sports when it's cold as hell outside?  I mean, if I wanted to watch people freezing or sliding across the ice or trudging through snow, I can just look out the window!  Maybe one year they should have the Winter Olympics in Australia or something, just so when it's hot as balls out, we can watch people skiing or skating on ice or curling and feel like it's cooling us off, right?  Or maybe that's just me.

Linking from "Breakfast at Tiffany's", Audrey Hepburn was also in "The Children's Hour" with James Garner  (last seen in "My Fellow Americans").

THE PLOT:  A poor and passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman and gives her a sense of freedom. They soon are separated by their social differences.

AFTER:  Here we go again, it's another socialite rich girl falling for a man of lower class.  But at least he's not a reporter tonight, he's got more respectable jobs, first at a carnival, then at a lumber mill.  But we're still back in the 1940's, at least for part of the film.  The better news is, I'm done screwing around with screwball comedies.  Valentine's Day is approaching fast, so it's time to get serious about romance here.

There is a love triangle here, and a framing sequence set in a nursing home, where a man reads the story to a woman with Alzheimer's.  But what relationship, if any, do the old folks have to the people in the story?  Are they the main characters?  Ah, but that would be telling.  And no fair peeking at the IMDB, it wouldn't help anyway, since the old people have nicknames, so you can't cheat.

More information about the young couple in the story, and the old people as well, is gradually revealed.  As you play along, you might want to try and guess - is the old man the love of her life, or is he the "one that got away", or is he a random stranger?  I don't think I'm spoiling anything here, those are really the only possible guesses.

Should our young heroine choose the man she can live with, or the one that she can't live without?  The one that she fights with, which might also be the one that she loves more passionately, or the safe choice?  It's perhaps a little more complicated than that, since our young lovers were separated first by her parents, then by WWII, then by time and space, but that's the general drift of things.

I think this is a perfect-film for Valentine's Day, because it shows several different kinds of love - both the hot, sweaty summer romance kind, the turbulent troublesome kind, and also the long-term commitment kind.  It also highlights the fact that when you commit, you're locking yourself in to take the bad with the good - which means you might have to watch the person you love get very sick, or perhaps not even remember you.  Such is life.  It also acknowledges that a relationship requires work, and many romances tend to ignore that little fact.

But I fear I may have peaked too soon, finding the perfect (?) Valentine film on Feb. 10.  This is the problem with programming films that I haven't seen, that I may have a limited knowledge of.  I follow where the chain leads me, and I hope for luck or providence in where the films land.

Also starring Gena Rowlands (last seen in "Taking Lives"), Ryan Gosling (last seen in "All Good Things"), Rachel McAdams (last seen in "Mean Girls"), James Marsden (last seen in "Anchorman 2"), Kevin Connolly, Sam Shepard (last seen in "Safe House"), Joan Allen (last seen in "The Contender"), David Thornton.
RATING: 6 out of 10 paintbrushes

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Year 6, Day 40 - 2/9/14 - Movie #1,639

BEFORE: I'm presented with a quandary tonight - surely I must have seen this before, right?  This is the kind of film that a young man watches with his wife or girlfriend because it's her favorite film, right?  My advice to men is, never date a woman who says that this is her favorite film - more on that later.  Anyway, since I covered NYC relationships in the 1800's, and then the 1930's, it's on to NYC in the 1960's.

I sort of feel like I've half-seen this one, or perhaps I watched it and didn't pay much attention, because I remember almost nothing about the plot, except for Mickey Rooney's incredibly racist portrayal of a Japanese man.  I've tried hard to avoid films that I've seen, but isn't remembering almost nothing about it the same as not having seen it?  I think I'm going to have to start the film, and if it all feels too familiar, I'll just have to cross it off and move on to the next film.  Linking from "It Happened One Night", Clark Gable was also in "Manhattan Melodrama" with Mickey Rooney.

THE PLOT: A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building.

AFTER:  Nope, it didn't feel very familiar, so I kept going - I was determined to cross this film off the list tonight, for one reason or another.  The main reason for putting this film here was for the linking, but now that I have watched it, I see where my unconscious brain was going with this - it's right there in the synopsis, with the word "socialite". Joan Crawford played a socialite in "Love on the Run", and Claudette Colbert played one in "It Happened One Night".  Now technically Holly Golightly is NOT a socialite, but she acts like one, and she runs in the elite social circles and dates upper-crust men.  I ain't sayin' she's a gold-digger, but....

Anyway, she seems at first to be just as clueless as the other women this week - with no real idea how to function in the real world, how to pay the rent or her other bills without the help of various men.  (Why does she need $50 for the powder room?  What do you women do in there?)   When a writer of no fixed income moves into the apartment upstairs, they bond over the fact that they're in similar situations - he's living in an apartment bought and furnished by his married older girlfriend. 

Holly's agent friend calls her a "phony", but also a "true phony".  What does this mean?  This doesn't seem to be as much of a contradiction as one might think.  So she manipulates men and takes their money, but at least she's honest about it?  If Paul is a writer who doesn't write, is he a phony too?  What about everyone at the party - aren't there any genuine, honest people in NYC?  If not, I have to admit I'm not very surprised.  "Fake it 'till you make it", right?

Of course, later in the film we find out just how much of a phony Holly Golightly is.  You mean that name's not even real?  Do tell...  And she's always got some scheme to marry the 9th richest man in America, or some Brazilian minister or something.  Which prevents her from having a real true relationship, even when it's right there in front of her.  The IMDB plot summary calls her character "a sweetly vulnerable bundle of neuroses".  Really?  What's wrong with "delusional clueless bitch"?  If she needs money, why can't she just get a job?  Learn to type, maybe.

To me, this film now feels like an anti-romance.  So maybe THAT is my theme for the week - films that are considered as romances, but considering how people mistreat each other, love doesn't even seem to be part of the equation, or not any type of love you'd want to be a part of.  Reading the notes on IMDB, this is another film greatly influenced by Hollywood's production code - in the novel this was based on, written by Truman Capote, Paul is gay, and Holly was a prostitute who had an abortion and flirts with bisexuality.  See, if you cut out all that, you've got two characters who are perfect for each other!  Sure, just sweep everything you find distasteful under the carpet and call that "art".

NITPICK POINT: If Mr. Yunioshi doesn't like to buzz Holly in when she's lost her keys, why doesn't he just NOT buzz her in?  Let her stand outside for a few hours, I guarantee next time she'll remember to have a key made and not lose it.

Also starring Audrey Hepburn (last seen in "The Lavender Hill Mob"), George Peppard, Patricia Neal (last seen in "The Day the Earth Stood Still"), Martin Balsam, Buddy Ebsen, with cameos from John McGiver (last seen in "Fitzwilly"), Alan Reed (that's weird, the guy who played the mobster in jail was also the voice of Fred Flintstone...)

RATING: 5 out of 10 Cracker Jacks