Saturday, November 01, 2008

Payne & Glory

I apologize for my extended hiatus in blogging.

I’m sure my three readers missed me – or would, if I didn’t talk to Mom and Candice daily. Or clog Alice’s in-box with anxious e-mails three times a day.

My life has been a soap opera for quite a while now. And - as much as I’d like to change the channel - I’m not the one in charge of the remote.

I might be able to be more specific in the ways my life is starting to mimic a badly-written, self-help book in a little while. Right now, I’m just waiting for spousal acquiescence and my level of humiliation to compress.

God bless Angie for knowing me well enough to recognize I was in desperate need of escape. Of course, our escape has always been a dark theater, buttered popcorn, and some action flick where everything blows up at the end and our favorite characters walk away unscathed.

Some of my personal drama involves finances, so we were frugal enough, patient enough, to wait until our choices hit the $5 club. Tonight, we ran away together to see Max Payne, starring (MMM)Mark Wahlberg, and Pride and Glory, starring Colin Farrell.

“If seeing Mark Wahlberg shoot bad guys or watching Colin Farrell get down and dirty in a fist fight doesn’t make you feel better, you’re too far gone.”

Truer words were never spoken by any friend of mine.

We popped for the jumbo popcorn combo and drinks large enough to drown in. We added in salty pretzels and that delicious melty cheese and headed to see Max Payne.

I don’t know what it is about watching a movie in the theater, sitting next to my sister action flick freak, that makes me feel all is right with the world. Right now, I’d have to assume it’s because it’s not my life I’m watching on the big screen.

Mark Wahlberg’s character is out for revenge after his wife and baby are murdered during a purported robbery. He devotes his life to searching street alleys and deserted back roads for the murderer.

In the movie, which moved at a glacial pace, Mark spends most of his time brooding and sending smoldering glances to the suspected bad guys. Not that I’m complaining, but he definitely didn’t collect his paycheck for learning many lines. In fact, for being such good actor, I don’t think I’ve heard him speak less in a movie.

I have to give props to Mila Kunis (Jackie from That 70’s Show) for showing up and performing very well in an underutilized (and poorly explained) role.

I was worried she’d overact or (worse yet) that I wouldn’t be able to watch her without thinking about the vain idiot she portrayed in that show. I was pleasantly surprised, as she turned in a nuanced and non-stereotypical character representation.

The steamy Chris O’Donnell was also good in a throwaway role. I complained to Angie about it, but she pointed out he hasn’t been in movies in a while, so perhaps this was him putting his toe back in the water.

He has always been a favorite actor of mine, so I’d be thrilled if he threw his hat back in the ring. It infuriated me that his role was so tiny. He’s destined for bigger and better. We shall see.

One of the bad guys was…Sucre from Prison Break. And, I’m sorry, but he’s forever Sucre to me. So, even as I watched him crush some guy’s finger underneath his boot, I found myself waiting for the smarmy smile and a Puerto Rican accent to come bursting out.

Plus, darn it, he’s just too nice for me to hate. Sorry, Sucre.

The movie itself was blah. It moved very slowly, and there just wasn’t a lot for the actors to do.

A very important plot point was revealed by….a video. That’s right. The characters sat around and watched a video that basically delivered exposition for like 5 minutes. Angie and I were like, “Really? They used a video…not the actors to tell us about this? Hmmm…”

There is a part near the end where Mark executes a very fly scissor kick while swimming/drowning. It was basically like the scene at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, only instead of Matt Damon, they used Michael Phelps for the stunt man. Nice scissor kick, buddy.

After the movie, we went to the bathroom. As we do, we analyzed the movie by talking to each other over the top of our stalls.

At one point, I elicited a laugh from the non-Angie side when I said, “The only thing better than watching Mark Wahlberg shoot at people while running is watching him shoot at people while running under the fire sprinklers.”

Next on our list - after a pop, popcorn, and pretzel refuel – was Pride and Glory, starring Ireland’s favorite son (and yes, I know you think he’s skanky, and I don’t care).

Now, here was a good action flick. We had good cops, bad cops, snitches, and Edward Norton – who ALWAYS brings it.

Of course, the problem with Mr. Norton is that no matter how kick-butt his role is…he’s got that Fight Club monkey on his back. His best work – and Brad Pitt’s, too, as far as I’m concerned – is the beat-each-other-bloody buddy flick.

At one point, Mr. N and Colin throw down in an old fashioned good-cop-on-bad-cop fist fight. And, even though I was thinking it, Angie leaned over and whispered, “The first rule of Fight Club…”

To which I retorted, “When is Tyler Durden going to show up? I didn’t know Brad Pitt was in this movie!”

Accolades to Jon Voight for turning in a solid performance as the slightly alcoholic father to his two police officer sons. And delivering a great one liner that had our audience in stitches during an otherwise serious movie.

Speaking of serious, Colin showed some moves toward the dark and twisted side during a particular moving scene involving him threatening a family – using a newborn and an iron. It was nail-biting suspense and not at all clear what was going to happen.

It was good acting all around, with a satisfying, solid, and even believable (not always important) ending. Definitely worth the hard-earned, high-in-demand dollars we paid.

The ride home was spent analyzing the second movie. We were in agreement it was the better of the two.

We debated over the casting, as I prefer to see Colin play the good guy. Mr. Norton has dabbled in some of the best evil roles I’ve ever seen – see American History X, Primal Fear, and The Score - so maybe the casting directors thought we (informed moviegoers) might smell a rat. Either way, we were in critique heaven all the way home.

Angie dropped me off, and I found myself breathing normally again.

Thank God for the company of a good friend, the escape of fantasy, and intricate shoot ‘em ups that have nothing to do with me.


Laura Brown said...

Even a bad movie can be fun to watch if you have a friend with you to help analyze why it's bad.

I hope things start going better for you soon.

Ann-Marie said...

Thanks, Laura! I've just been feeling a leetle sorry for myself. I can tell, because that's when I drag out the big words like "acquiescence" and "unscathed!" I'll be fine. The night out helped a LOT!

karyn said...

I enjoyed your critiques so much that I don't even need to see the movies! I'd watch Mark Wahlberg if he was in a good movie, but I have to say that, yes, I think Colin Farrell is skanky. :-)
I hope you are cheered by bringing out your analytical cinematic genius.

Alice said...

See, now if you saw movies like "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mystery" you would know Chris O'Donnell is still in the business! :-)

I'm glad you had a great time. Yes, sometimes you just need an escape!

Anouk said...

I feel like I haven't seen you in forever . . . I had to check your blog. Glad to know you are alive and well and praying that your days pick up. And by the way, I like the new picture at the top of your blog! :)

I won't be in church on Sunday (I'll be in MI), so I don't know if I'll see you anytime soon again. Just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you . . . and praying for ya!

Cindy Swanson said...

Ann-Marie, you forgot to add me as one of your regular readers!

Oh, and...every time I read your blog, I mentally comment on how much I enjoy your beautiful writing. Girl, you're talented. You deserve a wide audience--even wider than the extended Rehfeldt family, which I know is pretty expansive! :)

Ann-Marie said...

Awww...well, that just made my day, Cindy. Thanks for the sweet thoughts.

And my mom will forever love you for it!

October Dawn said...

Yeah, so I couldn't really follow the whole critique because I don't know who any of them are. But I'm glad you enjoyed the movie. A good friend is something I CAN understand!