Friday, August 06, 2010

The 40 is Sexy Film Festival

My therapy has moved from focusing on increasing my range of motion to rebuilding my strength. In other words, ouch. The bad arm is currently trembling a little, and I suspect it will be very achy tomorrow. I should probably start doing a little weight work with the good arm so I don't end up looking lopsided.

It seems like HBO knows I'm getting closer to a birthday, since they practically had an "older woman, younger man"/"women in their 40s are still sexy" film festival this week.

First, there was I Could Never Be Your Woman, from the writer/director of Clueless. Michelle Pfeiffer is a 40-something divorced single mom who produces a high-school-set sitcom (one of those where all the teens are played by actors in their 20s and 30s). When casting the guest role of a nerd, she's blown away by Paul Rudd's audition because he plays it emotionally straight even while having great fun with the physical comedy. She hires him and they hit it off, and he starts hitting on her. She's a little taken aback, given the age difference, but ends up having tons of fun with him, until her own insecurities and the manipulations of her bitchy secretary threaten to tear them apart. This was a cute enough movie that probably looked better on paper than it came out on film. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it somehow looked cheap, like it was a made-for-basic-cable movie, which is an achievement in a film with no special effects or stunts and with a reasonably A-list cast. Then there was this weird thing where Mother Nature, as played by Tracey Ullman, shows up from time to time to mock the heroine for going against nature and dating a younger man. And there's yet another example of the "Hey, you weren't lying after all!" happy ending in which the person who wasn't trusted is perfectly okay with not having been trusted, but I've just about given up complaining about that. What makes the movie work is the two main characters and the heroine's daughter. I really believed in all those relationships. Paul Rudd was particularly adorable. He's kind of a Jekyll and Hyde actor. In some of his roles, like this one, in Clueless or even on Friends, he does such a great job as the nice guy you can't help but like, sort of the ultimate Best Friend. But then there are the Frat Pack films where he's a jerk, which doesn't really work because the niceness seeps through, but he's not nice enough to like. I can pretty much tell I won't like him in the film if Steve Carell is also in it.

Next was Crush, a British film I've never heard of, and I can kind of see why because it was pretty much insane. It starts like it's going to essentially be Sex and the Cotswolds Village, with a group of three 40-something female friends who get together weekly to drink, smoke, eat chocolate and talk about how awful their love lives are. There's the prim school headmistress whose only romantic prospect is the town vicar who keeps trying to get her to go along on the church youth group's outdoor adventures. There's the town doctor, thrice-divorced, bitter and only dating wealthy men. And there's the town police chief, who thinks that taking adult education classes is the key to finding men. Then the headmistress attends a funeral and finds herself drawn to the young man playing the organ -- only to find out at the post-service reception that she taught him in high school about ten years ago. Next thing you know (literally -- there is absolutely no transition), they're having sex on a tombstone in the churchyard. And then they're getting together all over town, going at it on just about every horizontal or vertical surface. She thinks her friends will be thrilled for her, but is surprised when they're violently opposed, to the point of trying to distract her, get her away from him and even break them up, with some pretty catastrophic results. With friends like these, you definitely don't need enemies. I would warn that in spite of the quirky beginning that makes it look like it will fall into the Four Weddings and a Funeral genre (it includes two cast members from that movie), this is not a romantic comedy. It's not even really a comedy. The things that happen because of the friends are so bad that the girl power, female friendship bonding time ending makes no sense at all. Even if you believe in forgiveness, that doesn't mean you continue to associate with people who are willing to do things like that to you. I need to look up who wrote that movie because if it's a man, I certainly want to avoid any relationship with someone who has that warped an idea of what relationships are like, and if it's a woman, I don't want to be friends with her if this is her idea of what friendship is.

The big problem is that although I think the friends' actions and motives are despicable, I didn't exactly cheer for the relationship because there wasn't one. All they do was have sex. I never got any sense of a bond growing between them or what they liked about each other. The friends seemed to me to be right about it being pure lust that would fade eventually. In the first movie I mentioned, I could really believe they'd make it work because we actually got to see that they had a similar outlook on life, made each other laugh and enjoyed being together outside the bedroom.

Aside from the English Countryside Porn (and of my favorite part of England) and the upscale cottage home decor porn, there wasn't much to enjoy, and I wish I hadn't wasted the time watching it. Alas, they had me at "Cotswolds" in the description (plus, the description called it a romantic comedy, which it so wasn't).

So, according to these films, 25-30 year olds should find me incredibly sexy. Though I think it helped that these 40-something women were played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Andie McDowell. We're not talking middle-aged hags here.

I may make another attempt at a shopping excursion today, as I got a royalty check just in time for my birthday. Though I may end up just going to Target because I'm oddly not much in the mood for shopping and can only talk myself out of the house because there's stuff I need to get.

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