Sunday, November 22, 2015

Film Pairing – Relationships Going Very Wrong

I love movies.  I love things cinematic.  Life intensified, smoothed, edited and made to make sense, when, of course, that’s not life at all.  Here are two films that don’t make sense. But I believe them.  They don’t make sense in the way life doesn’t make sense. They are dark and unhappy. Sometimes that’s the way it is.

Break UpBridget Fonda is trapped in an abusive relationship.  She scrimps, saves, desperately trying to get a little money ahead so she can escape. She lives in a small, narrow world and. as if she has blinders, she can’t figure a way out except through this little passbook savings account. It is her hope, her only tunnel-visioned option. The abuser is killed in an auto accident.  Problem solved? Nope. The evidence points to her as prime suspect. Her instinct is to cash in and run. But the money is gone.  How can that be? Bridget Fonda is excellent. Kiefer Sutherland is effectively understated as the cop.  Steven Weber and Hart Bochner are also featured. The 1998 psychological thriller was directed by Paul Marcus with a well-written screenplay by Anne Amanda Opotowsky.

True Story — It is, apparently. And it is inert, in that it is barely a moving picture. Instead we have two strong actors facing off  – James Franco and Jonah Hill. Hill plays Michael Finkel, a discredited New York Times Reporter and Franco plays a murderer who takes Frankel’s identity to evade capture.  But captured he is and the writer might be too curious about why the murderer chose his identity. The two conspire to write the murderer’s story. Is it a way for both of them to redeem themselves? The 2015 film was directed by Rupert Goold and was based on — what else? — Finkel’s book. Franco’s character is psychopathic, Hill’s obsessive. They mirror each other in their narcissism, providing a double dose of self-absorption, which seems to explain the unavoidable attraction they have for each other.

These are small films, which is to say, minimal action, minimal actual violence no special effects. Just two human relationship stories.  The biggest fear is that what happened in these two movies could happen to us, or someone we love, and that we are too blind or too self-obsessed to see there is something larger out there.

Both are American films. A little Kentucky Bourbon would work as refreshments as youwatch Break Up. There would be nothing wrong with continuing that through True Story. For the non-inbibing, some fruit juice and soda will do fine.  And popcorn.  Why not? Though worth it, True Story is a little slow.

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