The One I Love Is Strange: Two Movie Marriages Put To The Test

the-one-i-love-elisabeth-moss-mark-duplass-sophie-Ethan It’s official. 2014 is the year of the doppelganger.

I said it before, and I’m saying it again. I may even say it again a time or two before the end of the year, if the trend continues. Two significant films this year dealt with misanthropic men encountering suaver, smoother versions of themselves in trippy, dreamlike realities. I’m speaking, of course, about Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and The Double, featuring Jesse Eisenberg, both of which stand a good chance of making my Top Ten at the end of the year. There’s also the low-budget sci-fi treat Coherence, which takes that basic premise to another level with doubles, triples, quadruples, and multiple characters getting in on the doppelganger action.

And now there’s The One I Love, in which a married couple portrayed by Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss head out on a relationship-repairing weekend in a picturesque location in California and find that not only is the scenery idyllic, but so, all of a sudden, is their partner. This is because their spouse is not their spouse, exactly, but rather, some sort of robot or clone or entity from a parallel dimension posing as their spouse. (Maybe.)

What’s the deal, 2014? Why are we suddenly so preoccupied with doubles? There are so many of these movies with identical plots, it’s almost like they’re replicating themselves…

Continue reading

In Heat: A Writer Struggles To Keep His Cool

adaptation-nicolas-cage

School’s out, the sky is blue, and that summer sloth will be cured by just one thing—caffeine, and lots of it. Thus coffee shops are still the hangout du jour in the summertime, a place to chit-chat over chai or grab an ice-blended en route. But as the ceaseless summer populace buzzes in and out, people rarely notice a handful of solitary freaks in their midst: holed up in corners, avoiding eye contact, downing espresso by the gallon, these lone losers posses secret, special powers…

But their gift is also a curse, for it has made them outcasts.

These freaks are writers.

Continue reading

On Poor Taste: A Cinephile Grapples With Lowbrow Likes

(A version of the following first appeared in INsite Boston in 2005. Please forgive the dated references. The overall content is still relevant!)

There’s a golden rule in courtship: “Never talk business on a first date.” (Ditto politics and religion.) Likely because, for most people, that’s a fast pass to Snoresville. But what if your business is entertainment?

Someone recently had the bright idea to take me DVD shopping as a “get to know you” exercise on a first date — what better way to get familiar with a film major than to see what movies he likes? I knew I was doomed when my date held up a copy of a certain Nicole Kidman film in which she may or may not have been a robot and said, “Wasn’t this great?”

Continue reading

‘Galaxy’ Jest: Marvel Trades Amazement For Amusement

guardians-of-the-galaxy-zoe-saldana-chris-prattA few years back, Joss Whedon surprised us by releasing a superhero movie that satisfied all the mega-blockbuster mega-requirements and still found room for a little of the Buffy creator’s trademark meta-wit.

Since then, Marvel movies have all included a Whedon-esque gem or two. They certainly don’t take themselves as seriously as Christopher Nolan’s broodier comic book films — nor should they. But they haven’t exactly been laugh riots, either. Even when the stories would seem to make plenty of room for hilarious hijinks — like when brawny god Thor has to contend with 21st century mankind on Earth, or Captain America must adjust to having slept through the past few dozen decades — the Marvel movies never manage to elicit more than a chuckle or two at their heroes’ expense. Maybe the men who direct them are not well-suited for comedy, or maybe Marvel executives have been too leery to get too funny, lest their superheroes lose some of their machismo appeal. Even The Avengers opened with a bloated and largely humorless opening act that felt like it was written and directed by someone who was not Joss Whedon.

Continue reading

Boo, Hiss!: A B-Movie Slithers Into Hollywood’s Mile-High Club

Snakes-on-a-Plane(Flashback Friday: This month marks the eight-year anniversary of this slithery thriller. So here’s a look back at a curious moment in film history; an examination of movies of the “so bad it’s good” variety, and one of the few that was actually aiming for that mantle. While certainly not notable for its innovative content — or anemic box office performance — this movie proved an interesting lesson to Hollywood nonetheless. First published in INsite Boston in August 2006.)

Continue reading