Thursday, May 19, 2016

Alfie (2004)

Year 8, Day 139 - 5/18/16 - Movie #2,339

BEFORE: I did manage to see "Captain America: Civil War" last night, but I'm not posting the review because I have no way to link to it.  Marisa Tomei is in it, and she's also in tonight's film, but that only gets me halfway there - I've got no out-tro link back to my current chain.

Jude Law carries over from "Gattaca" - didn't I just do a Jude Law chain last year?  Nope, it only feels like it, since he was in three non-consecutive films last year ("Sleuth", "Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil") and that might seem like a big deal, except that he's on track for at least SIX appearances this year, counting tonight and tomorrow.  

I can tell you right now that six films isn't enough to be my top star of 2016 - for that matter, Samuel L. Jackson's been in nine of this year's films, and he probably won't win either, since I've got no less than 13 Burt Reynolds films coming up - I've been stockpiling them.

THE PLOT: A cockney womanizer learns the hard way about the dangers of his actions.

AFTER: This is a remake of a 1960's film starring Michael Caine (5 appearances last year, on track for 4 in 2016) - and last year I watched "Sleuth" (2007) with both actors who played Alfie in it, which itself was a remake of an earlier Michael Caine film where he played the younger of two men, and in the remake he played the older one.  

And how about this for a coincidence - last night's film featured a real-life couple (Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman) and so does this one (Jude Law and Sienna Miller).  Of course, neither couple is still together, that's Hollywood, but in both cases I think they were all co-stars first, then couples, then had fairly public break-ups.  

"Alfie" presents me with a weird choice for a hero - I can understand the "Swinging Single" lifestyle of a main character in 1966, when the original film was released, but in 2004?  It doesn't make as much sense to me.  I became an adult in the 1980's, in the age of AIDS and other STD's, and for a while there in the 1990's it wasn't just uncool to have multiple partners, it was downright dangerous. The party people had to be extra careful, or if not, then there was certainly a motivation to change one's lifestyle and settle down with someone.  Does this mean that while I wasn't paying attention, the pendulum swang back the other way?  

Of course, a lot has happened since the 1980's - but there was a new wave of conservatism, girls wearing promise rings at father-daughter dances, but also gay rights, domestic partnerships, transgender issues - Alfie is just a straight guy who can't commit, and as such he almost seems out of place in the modern world.  Perhaps I'll get a better understanding when I watch the 1966 version of the film later on, but as it stands, I don't really get the 2004 version.  

Of course, it all goes back to the original womanizer, the libertine Don Juan - the basic story is about a wealthy man devoted to a life of seducing women from all walks of life, believing that he's got plenty of time to repent (this story was from the 1600's, people in Spain were all Catholics, who believed that as long as you repented before you died, you could still enter heaven, no matter what your sins were.) but in many versions of the story, Don Juan is killed before he could offer confession, so his luck ran out. 

But the main takeaway is that our actions have consequences, which Don Juan learns too late, and Alfie learns at the end of the film.  And while Alfie doesn't wind up in hell, he sort of does live in a hell of his own making, when all of his female lovers have turned their backs on him, and he's got no steady relationship or constructive future.  He's got his freedom, but he doesn't have peace of mind, and is no closer than before to learning "What's it all about?"  Maybe if Alfie didn't push away any woman who gets too close, he might learn a few things about what it means to be in a relationship.

But hey, this is coming from me, a serial monogamist.  A long-term relationship can be a lot of work, but there are definitely benefits, like always having someone to spend holidays and vacations with.  So I don't understand why we're asking someone like Alfie what it's all about in the first place.        

Also starring Jane Krakowski, Marisa Tomei (last seen in "Trainwreck"), Susan Sarandon (last seen in "Tammy"), Sienna Miller (last seen in "Foxcatcher"), Omar Epps (last seen in "Against the Ropes"), Nia Long, Gedde Watanabe (last seen in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch"), Renée Taylor, Graydon Carter, Jefferson Mays (last seen in "Inherent Vice"), Sondra James, Paul Brooke, Jeff Harding, Kevin Rahm, Tara Summers, Dick Latessa, Max Morris.

RATING: 4 out of 10   

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