Margaret (Dir: Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)
Basic plot- A well-to-do and outspoken teenager, Lisa Cohen, witnesses a horrific bus accident that she partly blames herself for. As she comes to terms with that and how to deal with it, she also has to handle her relationships with both of her divorced parents. A flawed but brilliant coming of age story.
It is not easy to write a synopsis of a movie like Margaret. I was half-tempted to write "teenage girl stuff" to describe it, even though the exact situations that Lisa finds herself into isn't what happens to most of us. Margaret is a frustrating yet beautiful look into the mind of a young person who is coming to find out the realities of this world, and her path to disillusionment about it and herself. It is also about the various cultures and classes of people that live in a place like New York, the discrepancies in the justice system and is also a family drama about a broken one. But mostly, it is one of the best coming of age tales that I have ever seen. We see how this girl continues making mistakes and having loud obnoxious arguments, but we also see how the accident and her guilt about her actions affect her. I called it frustrating because I found it very hard to both like and dislike this character. Lisa is almost completely the opposite of me, but I still "got" her. One of my most favourite parts of the movie was when she is talking about her feelings over the victim of the accident Monica, who is played by Allison Janney in a brief byt heart-shattering scene, to Monica's friend Emily, played by an equally brilliant Jeanie Berlin, which causes her to lash out at Lisa- "Because... this isn't an opera! And we are not all supporting characters to the drama of your amazing life!" That one line for me was what this whole movie was about. Yes, Lisa is self-centered, but so is everyone else and it is very difficult not to be that. I feel that Margaret is about Lisa discovering that there is a world outside of herself, and how to live with that and in that.
Yes that is a bit of too much for a mini-review, but again, Margaret is that kind of a movie that just goads one to talk on and on about it. Also I saw it during my pre-20-imaginary-drama-phase, so it ended up reducing me to a bundle of emotions. One of the biggest reasons why it succeeds in doing that is because of its excellent cast, led by a very young-looking Anna Paquin. Paquin disappears into the role of Lisa. Her anger, her innocence, her bitchiness, her disappointment- everything. Completely marvelous job. She is aided by other fine actors like J. Smith-Cameron who plays Lisa's actress mother who is going through her own life problems, Matt Damon, Rory Culkin, Mark Ruffalo, Jean Reno, Matthew Broderick, John Gallagher Jr. and Lonergan himself, who plays Lisa's father. Still despite all these amazing aspects, one cannot deny the fact that it is a very clunky movie. All the elements of Lisa's life and those around her don't gel as well as they should. There are scenes that have no reason to be there; some feel too long and some too short. The whole setting of New York is very scenic to look at though. Because of all these pluses and minuses, Margaret is an impossible film to rate, but quite easy to love and appreciate and spend hours thinking over.
2 Days in New York (Dir: Julie Delpy, 2012)
Basic Plot- Marion is now in a relationship with Mingus, and in the event of her art show opening, invited her Parisian family to their house in New York for a weekend. The cultural clash, Marion's show and subsequent selling of her soul test the strength of their relationship over these two days.
A sequel to her delightful 2007 film, 2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy's alter-ego Marion is a sweet, neurotic character that once again has to juggle her boyfriend, this time played by Chris Rock and not Adam Goldberg, and her crazy French family consisting of her jovial but at times inappropriate father played by Delpy's own father, Albert Delpy, her overtly sexual sister Rose, played by Alexia Landeua and Rose's current boyfriend Manu, played by Alexander Nahon, who was one of Marion's ex-flames. Mingus is often made very uncomfortable by this band of outsiders, so as to speak, and this starts to put strain on his otherwise normal relationship with Marion. One of the most endearing elements of the film is when Mingus discusses his problems with a cut-out of President Barack Obama in his office. Another more thematically cool concept shown is Marion selling off her soul as part of her show and then trying to buy it back from the very surprising buyer.
Still with these ideas, 2 Days in New York somewhat fails when it comes to execution. 2 Days in Paris focused more on just the relationship between these two really different people, but Delpy in 2 Days in New York brings in a lot more but isn't able to fit it all together very well. I also felt that the setting of Paris in the first movie ended up having more charm than this more foreign setting of New York. It is obviously a very personal work for her because like her character Marion in the movie, she too had recently lost her mother and we see how this affects the character, and possibly Delpy herself. The supporting characters have their funny moments and I really love the dad. Delpy is definitely the best in show, her high point being the conversation that she has with a reputed critic about her art. All in all, a fun watch.
Bachelorette (Dir: Leslye Headland, 2012)
Basic Plot- The B-Faces consisting of the icy queen bee Regan, junkie rock-n-roll chick Gena, the ditzy
blonde redhead Katie and their sweet but overweight friend Becky were the shit in high school in the 90s. Cut to the present day, Becky is the first one getting married, much to the chagrin of the rest of the prettier though bitchier gang and when they all get together for the bachelorette party the night before the wedding, all hell breaks lose in the form of a torn wedding gown. While trying to figure out how to mitigate the situation and have the maximum fun in the process, they also have to come to terms with their past and present personas.
First up, let me just say that I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS MOVIE! It is everything I wanted Bridesmaids to be. No I am not comparing; I'm just saying that when I went to watch that, I was expecting this. Hell, I still argue that Bridesmaids should have been called 'Bridesmaid' instead. Now Bachelorette gives us bridesmaids- crazy, confused, coke-snorting, high-school-bitchy, awesome bridesmaids in the form of Regan, Gena and Katie. This film is like Mean Girls grown up, but still holding on to their teenage selves. Yes it is loud and vulgar, but the amount of depth that these characters still manage to show is outstanding.
The three B-Faces is played by Kirsten Dunst as Regan, Lizzy Caplan as Gena and Isla Fisher as Katie. The first time I saw the movie (I have seen it twice because that is how much I love it!), Caplan's Gena stood out the most because of her monologue on blowjob-scale to a fellow passenger on a plane, her struggles with her ex-boyfriend Clyde, played by the uber-adorable Adam Scott, and just coming to terms with how her "life is a concert she never liked". In many ways hers is the most obvious arc and Caplan is both hilarious and heartbreaking in her role. But the second time round, I noticed how absolutely brilliant the roles and performances of Dunst and Fisher were as well. Dunst's bitchface is a thing to be worshipped. I loved her need for efficiency and her total badassery at getting things done. And like Lisa in Margaret, I understood why she was the way she was. Finally Fisher, who is the most underrated of all of them, has a beautiful vulnerability to her role, which is probably the saddest of them all. She is really funny, but is possibly the most messed up one too. Splendid work done by all three.
Other actors were really good too. Rebel Wilson was funny and quite likable as Becky, which people will argue is not a word to throw loosely around in this film. Meh, I liked/loved everyone. I already adore Scott from Parks and Recreation and his character is sort of pathetic and charismatic at the same time, which makes him my favourite one outside of the three girls. James Marsden played the best man and the male alter-ego of the driven Regan and their bathroom um, rendezvous is very amusing. Kyle Bornheimer plays the very sweet Joe, who has been love with Katie since he sold her pot in high school. Also, this film has my favourite kissing scene of the year so far. Headland based the movie on her 2010 play of the same name, and her dialogue and an honest look into such women, which is further perfected by equally genuine performances, makes this film a joyous riot to watch. Hell, it is practically flawless for me, except a little bit at the end when Dunst and Wilson chant "Fuck everyone" which just irks me to no end.