Saturday, March 23, 2013

Movies: The Apartment, Teddy Bear, Trust

I always want to write more about the movies I watch that have some sort of takeaway, but for some reason it always seems really daunting and then months pass and I still haven't written about them and then I end up writing a paragraph of vague thoughts. So here you go.

The Apartment

How in the world did I go so many years without ever hearing about this movie? It is really FABULOUS. It's kind of different and unexpected and even educational! It's charming but it's also kind of dark. I don't know it was just a big surprise and it's certainly not without relevance.

So I thought it was interesting that hotels wouldn't let out rooms by the hour and so people had to use apartments to um, get together. This is actual history! And I had no idea. Anyway Jack Lemmon is so charming in this movie, so quirky and funny and good. And Shirley MacLaine is pretty great, too! I like that there's a romance but it's not the only thing in the movie and I love that ending is so unsentimental but still perfect. I feel like some of the issues they faced like in the work place and such are still relevant to our times. I wish I remembered more clearly what I was thinking when I watched this but it's really been awhile since I watched this one. Basically if you've never seen it, you should remedy that! (It's an Oscar winner and everything? Directed by Billy Wilder! I kind of wanted to go on a Billy Wilder kick after this, but alas didn't happen)

Teddy Bear

Danish film, yay! This is a really odd but strangely appealing movie about a body builder in Denmark who still lives with his mother and can't seem to find a girlfriend. When an uncle brings home a Thai wife after a trip to Thailand, he decides to do the same. I taught in Japan for a bit as some of you know, and while I was there we always faced this phenomenon of guys that would be seen as less attractive and kind of awkward easily dating gorgeous Japanese girls. It's a thing. When I talked to my Japanese friend about it once, she said it's because foreign men seem nicer and more concerned and caring than Japanese men. So anyway, I guess maybe also in a country like Thailand having a man come from a Western country might seem like the path to a better life depending on your circumstances.

Anyway, Dennis goes to Thailand and at first he's super uncomfortable with all the call girls basically, but then he goes to a gym (his element!) and meets a Thai girl more his style and eventually asks her to come to Denmark. But his mother is having none of it. She's used to having her son around, her world basically revolves around him and so the film explores how Dennis tries to break free from that.

And while the fact that he goes shopping for a bride in Thailand is kind of weird and speaks to the privilege he has as a first world white man, the film is still oddly touching as he battles his own circumstances. It's on Netflix now so give it a watch if it sounds interesting to you and then let me know what you think!


I just watched this one so it's really fresh in my mind. It's actually directed by David Schwimmer! Anyway this is expiring off Netflix on the 26th, but I'm glad I made time to watch it because it's a pretty good film about sexual predators on the internet and the after effects of sexual assault on a family. (I do have some slight issues which I'll address in a bit) I know it sounds super Lifetimey, but it's not really. The script does a good job of establishing the conditions for Annie to be susceptible and vulnerable to Charlie when they start talking. She is so desperate for love and acceptance that she's willing to believe this guy even after he lies to her several times about his age. He spins a tale about how they're soulmates and meant to be and then he rapes her.

But Annie doesn't see it as rape for a long time. She really believes he loved her and she resents the intrusion of her best friend and later her parents and the FBI into the situation. It's really easy from the sidelines to discount her emotional reactions and the things she's going through but the film handles them really sensitively until she finally grasps what really happened and that it was NOT okay. I really liked how the movie portrayed the way she felt flattered and valued and how it fit into her insecurities. And her parents were kind of involved in their own thing and missed that she was struggling with her own self-esteem. And Annie is a really cute girl in the film and athletic, etc. so it's not like she's some pathetic case, just a girl coming of age and having to grapple with all of the expectations of society and growing up.

There were flashes of Somebody Else's Daughter (lol apparently one of my favorite books about the porn industry) since her father was working on an advertising campaign that sexualized the models. There is a scene in the movie where they're at a release party and he goes kind of crazy looking at the posters and imagining his daughter. And while subtle and hardly fully fleshed out, it's a reminder that our society continues to objectify people and contribute to a climate where the kind of assault that happens to Annie can happen. And when he tells his boss that Annie was assaulted, his boss responds with shock but later seems just relieved she wasn't "attacked." So the film really addresses a wide range of feelings and issues with rape.

The problem I had overall with the film was how much of it was about the dad. His pain over realizing he'd failed his daughter, his obsession with finding Charlie, the fact that the movie ends with him crying because he failed his daughter and she attempted suicide...I just. THIS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN HIS STORY. I think the treatment of Annie in the movie was really good, I liked her story, but it was her story. And I disliked the way the father took her pain and made it about him. It's not that I don't think what happened to his daughter doesn't naturally become a part of his story as well, it's just that the film basically chose to tell two stories...and I felt like his ate up too much time.

Despite that problem, this is still, in my opinion, a pretty excellent film about this subject, more complex than I was expecting and really well acted.

One more thing I thought about after watching it was how my own problem was how accepting Annie still was of Charlie even after it turned out he was in his thirties. When you watch, you can tell she's uncomfortable, although her initial reaction is "why do you keep lying to me?" He is, of course, really emotionally manipulative, but also spins this whole soulmates tale. And it made me think about the popular YA storytelling trends where epic and destined love is privileged above all else. This happens in vampire stories where the guys are really A LOT older than the girls. But a lot of stuff gets excused in the name of "meant-to-be" and I think it sets up unrealistic expectations and emphasizes this idea of being special and having a lot of like that when...well lots of different kinds of loves can be good and you should never have to excuse something that feels wrong or makes you uncomfortable because you think you are soulmates. Ugh sorry, I just feel discouraged how popular these love stories are!


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment! I appreciate hearing your thoughts.