[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] R [/dropcap] uby Sparks is a delightful film directed by Dayton and Faris, who brought us Little Miss Sunshine. This film was written by Ruby herself…..Zoe Kazan. This is particularly amazing because as I watched this surreal, but charming movie, I thought how hard it must be to find an actress who could play Ruby with her guileless innocence and wonder. There are lots of characteristics that lend themselves self-awareness, but I would never have thought someone would see themselves as a clueless neophyte conjured up by the literary imagination of a modern version of J.D. Salinger.
Paul Dano, one of the homeliest actors since Tobey Maguire, is the once famous author prodigy who can’t get a life beyond his Hollywood Hills house and effeminate dog. So his writers’ block turns to an exercise suggested by shrink Elliot Gould….to write the girl of his recurring dreams. That becomes Ruby, without hocus pocus or fanfare, and just appears. Both Dano and his brother Chris Messina have some fun thinking through what they could write into Ruby’s “program”, but mostly, the humor comes in the challenge he has in getting Ruby stabilized. Like all magic, it turns out it’s not as easy as it looks. I guess the message is that love is never easy, even when you’re making it all up yourself.
Another fun bit is watching Annette Bening play Dano’s Big Sur Earth Mother. I can buy that. But Antonio Banderas as Mort, the chainsaw wielding chair sculptor? I can’t suspend disbelief that far, but it was a fun scene.
I find myself wondering how people can live such good lifestyles with such little work. Who invests their money and pays their bills. I’m clearly doing something wrong.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] T [/dropcap] hick as Thieves (aka The Code) is a heist movie with some Usual Suspects type twists. Tony Scott directs this and there are bits of Man on Fire and is paced like Unstoppable, so you will get your money’s worth from this largely forgotten film with two notable stars.
Freeman and Banderas meet as only thieves should meet….on the subway while one is casing the other and the other is pulling a heist….or so we think. This is double, triple cross territory with a love interest for Banderas thrown in so we can see his ass while he charms Rhada Mitchell, who you may remember as the hot mom in Man on Fire (wife to the sleazy Mark Anthony). They go through their paces planning the heist of two Fabrege Eggs from the Russian mob (that would be the uber-sophisticated Russian mob) while getting tangled up seemingly in each others’ lives.
Now the Russian mob certainly traffics in diamonds and precious items like Fabrege eggs, but what they really traffic in is $100 bills. I am reminded on the story of how Frank Newman, en Deputy Secretary of the Treasury made the call to switch out the old $100 bills for the new $100 bills. The big issue, it turns out was whether to order the destruction on the old ones or leave them be. It’s nice to know that everyone, including the Russian mob has a say in U.S. Monetary Policy…..the old bills remain legal tender……and all’s well in the Trans-Siberian world…….
This is a fine heist movie with fine actors and a great director….I can only conclude that it passed by without notice since it is, after all, thematically a case of same-old same-old.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] P [/dropcap] edro Almodovar has produced many excellent films, but he must have a touch of mental illness since he seems to favor films on that topic. The Skin I Live In is right up there on the crazy scale, both as a story and as a film. This is like Carl Icahn or Bill Ackman using their reputations and precision as investors to become mad scientist activist investors who transform a slightly wayward company into a wildly demented Frankenstein company that is perverted by the very process of transformation.
An Almodovar regular, Antonio Banderas (looking older, but very buff and suave in an almost Sean Connery way) stars as the mad doctor, who is crazed by some combination of his odd bastard parentage, his wife’s maiming and ultimate suicide at his bastard half-brother’s hand or the rape and subsequent suicide of his daughter (who follows exactly in her mother’s footsteps) at the hands of a local youth. Yes, you read that correctly….you certainly get your money’s worth of perversion in this Spanish-speaking film. I guess it might be even more intense if you didn’t have to read all the subtitles to follow the machinations of all these perversions. I wish I had been issued a scorecard to keep track of who was who. At least the Director is nice enough to make it very clear what time we are in as he jumps back and forth….as though this complication is necessary to keep the viewer off-balance.
Banderas does a perfectly fine job of acting, though he actually never once seems crazy…not even one maniacal laugh. I can’t tell if that means he’s a good actor or he just didn’t get it himself. His patient is Vera Cruz….is that reference to the Mexican city intentional or maybe Almodovar just couldn’t convince Penelope to sign up and he got his revenge this way. Anyway, I guess Elena Anaya did an OK job, but it was hard to tell with all the poor girl had to endure….rape, confinement, rape, imprisonment, rape, bad vintage clothing, rape and ultimately having to explain it all to Mom…..phew!
As you can tell, I liked this movie about as much as I like vulture capitalism. The good thing is that movies, like bad trades are over when they are over and you get to move on to the next one……NEXT!