Bellflower, the directorial debut of Evan Glodell, features two best friends devoted to preparing for the violent end of life as we know it, and their roles as rulers of the post-apocalyptic earth. Sign me up, these two sound like hoot! Plus, they have a flame-thrower, so that’s definitely going to end well. There’s one of these in every bunch. You’re hanging at the beach, soaking up the sunshine and suddenly they pipe up, “Enjoy it while you can. This time next year the ice cap melt will have this beach entirely under water. Polluted water.” Or you’re flipping through digitally antiqued iPhone pics over a leisurely brunch when suddenly: “Oh yeah, did you read that new study that proved we’re all definitely going to have smartphone-shaped tumors by like next week?” Most conscientious folks maintain a healthy degree of existential dread, but nevertheless: shut up. Okay, little rain cloud? This is an intervention. We all love you, but mostly we hate you because you took our brunch and turned it into Dead Man Walking. Just take a look at some of these Debbie Downers. We might get a kick out of them on screen, but in real life you’d slug these folks right in the pout.
The Royal Tenenbaums
I know, you loved this movie in college. That one Halloween when you and your friends dressed up like the siblings and went to like eleven bars? That was the best (until whatserface hooked up with her TA, then you were just two guys in sportswear). But unlike the folks you were imitating, you were laughing and joking and interacting with people in a way that does not indicate a Cluster B personality disorder. That cranky/deadpan/lifeless affect we so adore in Wes Anderson characters? We only like it because it’s embedded within his precious, pastel, well-scored world. He’s the only guy who can take us from a suicide attempt to a failed intervention to a dog getting hit by a car, and we’re still humming Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.
What’s up with all these cute young dudes struggling with existential dilemmas before they’ve even experienced the college application process? If they’d only put down the Camus for three seconds, they’d see a line around the block of similarly confused young ladies just waiting to turn their frowns upside down. That said, there’s a line between introspective and oops-I’m-dating-Eeyore. In this case, that line is Ryan Gosling. With his infinite brow-furrowing skills, he pulls off Misunderstood Youth with depth, complexity and not a shred of Dawson’s Creekiness. But alas, you are not Ryan Gosling. Unless you are Ryan Gosling, in which case, uh, hi I’m Kelsey.
Of all the depressed-genius-lady-writer movies – and there are plenty, we love weeping ladies almost as much as precocious dogs – this is my favorite in recent memory. You get three sad gals for the price of one! We’ve got Meryl sitting on her kitchen floor, bemoaning her full & interesting life in her ginormous West Village townhouse. Julianne Moore, so blue in the suburbs with a kind, devoted family. And good old Virginia (Nicole Kidman & The Nose) whose literary success, supportive spouse and life of leisure won’t stop her from marching headfirst into the river. I assume Oprah’s Book Club has tagged me as an insurgent by now, and it’s only a matter of minutes before they’ve targeted my location, so I’ll type this part fast. I realize I’m not cutting these ladies a totally fair deal. While watching this film you can’t help but be moved by the trapped and desperate circumstances of these women’s lives – except for Meryl. For all I care she can sit on her gorgeous hardwood floors all day long. I’m not coming to that pity party.
Are you bored with suicides yet? Good, me neither. The first time I saw this movie I, like every teenaged girl was too distracted by the dresses and the music and the Josh Hartnett to get too deep into story structure. When the youngest sister tapes bracelets over her bandaged wrists, all I could think of was whether they might be available at Urban Outfitters. Now that I’m older, and slightly less ridiculous, I’m still kind of lost on the whole dead-before-prom thing. It’s still a haunting, gorgeous film, but watching these girls even in your slightly less ridiculous twenties can be tough without a good long eye-roll. On the surface, yes, their mom is a pain and high school’s a bitch. But really ladies, there’s no need to impale yourselves on a picket fence. Let’s maybe take the suburban ennui down just a touch, ‘kay?
Paul Giammatti, distinguished actor and artistic patron though he may be, is a highly dangerous individual and we need to put a stop to his cinematic crime-wave. He’s done enough damage, convincing countless middle aged men that sullen, drunk and hopeless is just the combo the ladies are lookin’ for. In Sideways (the thinking man’s Hangover), he mopes tipsily around Napa with his jerky best bud – who’s jackassery makes him just as unappealing, and gets him just as laid. Miles (Giammatti) has reached middle age with only failure to show for it. Failure in this case being a divorce and an unfinished novel; things that describe 87% of over-forty American males – I made that up but it’s definitely true. There’s a reason this film made Sex & the City money (well, Sex & the City 2 money). Dudes went in, in their Sunday afternoon sweats, and came out ready to slay the next bombshell that crossed their path with that sexy, midlife melancholy. But just like Sex & the City, it’s all a vicious lie. Don’t believe this schlump. Please, buck up and get a haircut.