Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Solitary Man

In the movie Stepmom, a strangely lucky Ed Harris has divorced Susan Sarandon and is marrying new wife Julia Roberts. Old wife gets cancer and realises that she has to teach the new young wife how to look after her kids. It gets better - the old wife dies, saving Harris alimony and the kids now love the younger model just as much as the older one. As Hollywood screenwriter fantasies go Stepmom's got to be up near the top. Clearly it was also the fantasy of the divorced, bitter producers and the money men too. The Michael Douglas film A Solitary Man shares much of the same territory. An aging lothario has numerous affairs but all the women in his life still love him because he's so charming or something. His ex wife AGAIN is Susan Sarandon, his daughter is Jenna from the office and his current girlfriend that he cheats on is Mary Louise Parker. For some cockamamie reason he has to take his girlfriend's hot daughter on her college visit. (Parker does the fakest I hab a bab cold acting I've ever seen in a film.) Of course we all know what is going to happen on this trip. Unfortunately it isn't going to be like the time Tony Soprano took his daughter on a college visit. Its just going to be Douglas copping off with the teenage girl. (The screenwriters are careful to inform us that she is 18...so, you know, that's ok then.)
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These male wish fulfillment fantasy flicks are such an embarrassment to the gender, I wonder that everyone involved in them doesn't permanently hang their head in shame. Where the hell is bell hooks when we need her? Or Pauline Kael? They wouldnt stand for this nonsense. I couldn't watch the final act of the film, but I imagine Michael Douglas learns some kind of "lesson" at the very end. The French were making films like this thirty years ago. They've moved on. They've gotten more sophisticated. Hell, America was making films like this thirty years ago, but things have gone backwards. Now we're in a world where an emotionally retarded, adolescent film like Inception is able to stand out from the even more ridiculously crappy comic book adaptations surrounding it. Batman, Ironman, Spiderman, Sideburnsman (sorry Wolverine) cant stand any of them.
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Roger Ebert gave A Solitary Man three and a half stars. What did he like about the film? The forced, move-the-plot-along dialogue, the absurdity of the whole set up, Michael Douglas's creepy line readings? I don't know. I wish the old pervs who greenlighted and bank rolled and positively reviewed these movies would all just move to Thailand and be done with it....