Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Rewrite

Year 9, Day 38 - 2/7/17 - Movie #2,538

BEFORE: I almost never include plugs of any kind on my blog, but these are desperate times.  My boss has a Kickstarter campaign for her new film, and with 16 days left in the campaign, we just don't know if she will reach her goal, so I promised I would help get the word out, any way that I can.  If you would like to support the production of a unique animated film about marriage, told from a woman's point of view, one that details the effect of societal pressure, biology and neuroscience on the process of falling in and out of love, please consider donating to her campaign, located at KickstartMarriageFilm.com  And I think this is timely topical, considering that I'm deep into the romance movie chain, and Valentine's Day is coming up in just one week.  And by donating, you will help to keep me employed, and that means I can continue to blog about my movie-watching in my spare time.  (If I had no job, I'd have no spare time, and therefore no time for the blog...)  OK, end of plug, thanks for your attention.

Hugh Grant carries over from "Music and Lyrics" as promised, and here's the TCM schedule for tomorrow's "31 Days of Oscar" programming.  OK, so I guess this is a 2nd plug:
6:30 AM Father of the Bride (1950)
8:15 AM The Fighting Sullivans (1944)
10:15 AM Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
12:00 PM Flight Command (1940)
2:00 PM For Me and My Gal (1942)
4:00 PM Forbidden Planet (1956)
6:00 PM A Foreign Affair (1948)
8:00 PM Foreign Correspondent (1940)
10:15 PM 42nd Street (1933)
12:00 AM The French Connection (1971)
2:00 AM Friendly Persuasion (1956)
4:30 AM Fury (1931)

Another sub-par record for tomorrow's films - I've only seen "Father of the Bride", "Forbidden Planet", "Foreign Correspondent" and "The French Connection" - so 4 out of 12 brings me up only to 39 seen out of 84. 

THE PLOT: An Oscar-winning writer in a slump leaves Hollywood to teach screenwriting at a college on the East Coast, where he falls for a single mom taking classes there.

AFTER: I sort of wish that I paid more attention to directors - outside of Hitchcock and Tarantino, that is.  Because both "Music and Lyrics" and tonight's film were directed by Marc Lawrence, and as one might expect, that could naturally lead to similarities between the films.  In fact, Lawrence has directed four films, and all of them have starred Hugh Grant.  But in last night's film, Hugh played a has-been pop star, and tonight he's a has-been screenwriter.  

The formula that I've hit on (after watching too many rom-coms in a row, naturally) seems to hold up - after the fish-out-of-water intro where writer Keith Michaels moves from Hollywood to Binghamton in upstate New York - he meets a woman quite randomly (several times, in fact - he keeps bumping into her) and after spending time together and several hurdles, it's determined that there's a chance that they could help each other out in the romantic and personality department. 

Those hurdles include her being a single mother, and him sleeping with the first student that shows any interest in him, and then being unable to ditch her.  Plus he packs his screenwriting course with attractive young women (NITPICK POINT: At what college do teachers get to pick their students?) and two nerdy boys.  One of those nerds wants to write a time-travel screenplay, and the other wants to write the next "Star Wars".  No, literally, the next "Star Wars", like the next episode.  Aim high, kid. 

But it turns out that a teacher's not supposed to sleep with one (or two) of his students - but good luck telling that to one of those Hollywood types who's decided to escape from his Hollywood lifestyle for a paying gig in upstate New York for a few months.  As Elvis Costello once sang, "You're nobody till everybody in this town / Thinks you're a bastard."  Can you even teach writing when everyone just wants to mine their personal stories and private pain for possible plot points?  

Our anti-hero makes another mistake when he insults the work of Jane Austen in front of the head of the English Lit department, who's an expert in Austen's work and then sets out to make his life miserable.  (It's funny because Hugh Grant once starred in "Sense and Sensibility", OK?) By contrast, the school's Shakespeare expert is a much more decent, friendly guy.  Go figure.  Any bets on which character controls his fate when his inappropriate student-teacher conferences come to light? 

It's a bit predictable, but at least there's some solid character growth as the teacher ends up (eventually) learning to be genuinely interested in his students, and that's the first step towards caring about himself again, and maybe someday writing another screenplay, instead of just telling others how to do it.  Here's hoping. 

Also starring Marisa Tomei (last seen in "The Big Short"), JK Simmons (last heard in "Kung Fu Panda 3"), Allison Janney (last heard in "Mr. Peabody & Sherman"), Chris Elliott (last seen in "The Dictator"), Bella Heathcote (last seen in "Not Fade Away"), Caroline Aaron (last seen in "Heartburn"), Emily Morden, Annie Q, Steven Kaplan, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Aja Naomi King, Nicole Patrick (last seen in "Girl Most Likely"), Maggie Geha (last seen in "Ted 2"), Damaris Lewis, Jason Antoon (also carrying over from "Music and Lyrics").

RATING: 6 out of 10 Spiedie sandwiches

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