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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

bias alert!: dreadin’ ‘Chuck and Larry,’ still lovin’ Richard Armitage, here comes the ‘Sunshine’

YES!
current obsession:
beating the summer blockbusters to a pulp
current boyfriend:
richard armitage in north and south
i’m psyched:
sunshine
NO!
current enemy:
judd apatow, writer-director of knocked up
i’m dreading:
i now pronounce you chuck and larry

See, I really like that I moved the Bias Meter, er, Alert, whatever it is, to a blog posting, because now I can explain my choices.
Yes, of course I’m psyched for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I’m on my way out to see that now, and I want to be honest about what I’m psyched and what I’m dreading. I can’t be psyched for (or dreading) something I’ve already seen, and it seems silly to put Harry up here now only to switch him out later tonight. Of course, if the movie’s really good, I could be psyched to see it again… stay tuned and find out.

And wait: you’re saying, Wasn’t I supposed to see Sunshine this week, too? Yup, if things had gone right, I would have seen it last night. But I got stuck on a subway, and then stuck in the chaos aboveground, yesterday when the power went out on the Upper East Side, and I missed the screening. Grrrr! And Danny Boyle was gonna be there doing a Q&A afterward. Double grrrr! So now I’m really, really psyched to see this.

And my imaginary love affair with Robin Hood’s Richard Armitage has intensified now that I’m watching his 2004 miniseries North and South. His John Thornton, mill owner in the North of England in the 1850s, is like Mr. Darcy, only Darcier. Yum. (I’ll probably review the series, because it really is extraordinary even if you’re not madly in love with Armitage, so stay tuned for that.)

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  • I’m totally psyched for Sunshine. Danny Boyle, Alex Garland, and Cillian Murphy are an excellent team, and I love a good “hard SF” movie.

  • TheGaucho

    You are on your way to see the new Harry Potter flick. Oh, how I envy you!!! I am one of the puny mortals that has to wait for the official release, and see it in a roomful of idiotic morons… Aaargghhh! But then again, I don’t have to watch every bit of lunacy that comes at us from Tinseltown, whereas you are a critic, and thus have to subject yourself to a whole lote more crap than I have to.

  • LG

    Not sure if I’m more jealous that you got to see the Harry Potter movie last night or that you’re watching North and South for the first time. Looking forward to both reviews!

  • Amandajane

    Oh wow you’ve seen the new Harry Potter film ? BRILLIANT
    Glad you’re seeing North and South watch out for the drooling

  • JT

    I’m going to watch Chuck and Larry on the big screen just for Jessica Biel.

  • Little Red

    The first time I watched “North & South” the first time, I couldn’t stop watching it. I watched the entire series in one sitting starting at midnight and I was sick as a dog with fever. But then, Richard Armitage does have that effect on so many of us. I can’t wait to read your review of it. Enjoy.

  • Joanne

    There was mass drooling when North and South was first screened in the UK. My boss and I had regular sessions of “isn’t Richard Armitage gorgeous?” for weeks.

    Meanwhile Sunshine is an excellent film, if somewhat depressing in many ways. It’s the cast that really carries it – special effects are great, but the cast are better, and it helps that while they’re mostly vaguely recognisable none are huge stars (yet). Enjoy, when you get to see it. (It’s very rare that a film comes out in the US long after other Anglophone countries!)

  • MaryAnn

    *Sunshine* is a British film, which is why it opened in England first. *Becoming Jane,* another British film, has been played there for months, but won’t open here till August.

  • Joanne

    Aha, but I actually saw both of them in New Zealand – after they’d opened in the UK, but again before the US. I remain bemused as to why the movie business means that films in English are released at such different times in all the Anglophone countries of the world.

  • rich

    How does one become a reviewer? There certainly does not seem to be any requirements after clicking on this site. Anyone who thinks Micheal Moore is brilliant obviously has no clue, or education, or common sense for that matter.

    If there is an organization that oversees reviewers, her review for the putrid Fehrenhiet 911 should be submitted to bar her from writing anything further. (she actually believes that the movie has facts in them..lol)

  • MaryAnn

    Thanks, Rich. You’re a doll.

  • Josh

    Chuck and Larry looks better than most Sandler flicks, although the gay stereotypes could ruin it for me. Wish the film had guts and had stayed with the original R rating too.

  • Josh

    Funny thing happened today. I met up with my father and he asked me if I knew when Chuck and Larry was coming out. This is odd since the man not only hates Sandler, he also has some strong feelings against homosexuality, although I think his stance is softening. I said I would go see it with him but it concerns me that this film is attracting the crowd that really is not pro-homosexuality.

  • MaryAnn

    I have a strong feeling that anyone with a strong feeling against homosexuality will find all his prejudices reinforced in *Chuck and Larry.* The trailers don’t make the movie look pro-gay — they make the movie look like “Hey, look at all the privileges gays get — time for decent straight guys to be getting some of that.” I mean, the entire premise of the film is predicated on the idea that some straight guy is denied an insurance benefit that a gay man would, supposedly, receive. This is not a foundation from which to extol the rightness of equal treatment for all — it presupposes that gays are ALREADY getting better treatement than straights, and that society forces straight men to pretend to be gay to get what should be rightfully theirs. Which is bullshit.

  • MBI

    Um… I don’t know, it seems to me the idea is more that MARRIED guys get benefits that single guys don’t. From the trailers, I don’t think this movie looks anti-gay, or even pro-gay; just that it’s funny that straight guys are uncomfortable ’cause they have to do gay things and people should laugh. Three’s Company bullshit; not hateful, just facile and stupid. Felt the same way about Blades of Glory. Now, Wild Hogs, that’s the one that treads the line between merely infantile and genuinely hateful.

  • Josh

    Well, I read last night that the screened the film for Gay Rights groups and it has gotten nothing but approval, saying that the film focuses on working towards and acceptance. Kind of odd considering the tone of the trailer. There is a chance I might enjoy the film but I am not at all against politically incorrect humor if it is done right.

    MaryAnn is right with her statement that people already think that gays have it better than straights, which is bullshit. Same goes for if you are African American or Latino and on and on. The only statement like this that you hear a lot which I think holds any water is that men have it better than women, I believe that. I don’t think Affirmative Action works at all, at least not how it is implemented now. It can be used to help a minority get their foot in the door, but what happens after they get their foot in? If someone were to be hired for a job just because they are gay, black, have or disability…., the resentment and anger from others in the workforce is going to deplete any progress that could be made. That is what needs to be worked on. There needs to be acceptance and understanding in society before there can ever be change. Gays want their own civil rights movement. Well, unfortunately it has been 40 years since the black and womens movement and things are not much better. The racism is not a blatant, it’s more subtle now. From the research I have done, subtle racism is more damaging than blatant racism.

  • MaryAnn

    it seems to me the idea is more that MARRIED guys get benefits that single guys don’t.

    Well, but then the movie could have been about a guy and a gal getting married purely for the benefits — the “humor” could come from how they really actually hate each other. (A movie-critic friend of mine is already calling this “Queer Card” or “Queen Card,” after the Andie MacDowell/Gerard Depardieu flick of similar concept, *Green Card.*)

    it’s funny that straight guys are uncomfortable ’cause they have to do gay things

    I’m so tired of this straight-male fear of Teh Gay. I mean, seriously, why do straight men fear gays so damn much? Is it because they know how poorly some men can treat women, how predatory some men can be, and they’re afraid of being on the receiving end of that? Are they all so full of themselves that they honestly think no gay man could refuse the temptation to hit on them?

    I’m being completely serious here: what’s the big deal? You would think straight guys would be happy that some guys are gay, since it removes some men from the competition for women. I mean, I’ve been hit on by lesbians — it doesn’t bother me, although I usually don’t even SEE it until someone else points it out to me (“You know, she was hitting on you?” “What? Really?”), that’s how focused I am on men and not women as objects of sexual interest, no matter how much I like to tell myself I’m totally open to, nudge nudge wink wink, all kinds of experiences. But it doesn’t offend me, or scare me. But maybe that’s cuz I’m not afraid of being threatened or raped by a woman…?

    I’m not suggesting that all or even most men threaten or rape women. But *some* do… Is that behind the straight-male fear of gays?

    I wish I could understand, because my gay-male friends are some of the sweetest, kindest, most gentle people I know, and I wish they could enjoy the same “privileges” straight people enjoy, like the “privilege” of making health care decisions a hetero spouse might be presumed to be able to make.

    Gay Rights groups and it has gotten nothing but approval, saying that the film focuses on working towards and acceptance.

    I really, really, really hope this is true, and I will readily admit I was wrong if this turns out to be the case. I never WANT to hate a movie, no matter what anyone might think. :->

  • Josh

    The gay rights groups said that the film is full of stereotypes but in its own weird way it does call for change. I guess you can take that anyway you want. I once had an idea for a screenplay about a gay actor but I was afraid to write it because I was afraid it would get into gay stereotype territory. The story was about a geeky guy who was really in love with a coworker who wanted nothing to do with him. One of the few things he knew about her was that she was obsessed with a certain movie star. On his birthday, the man wishes to be that movie star. He wakes up as the movie star, who just happens to be a closet homosexual and it just happens to be the day he and his partner are preparing to come out. *shrugs* Could be funny

  • Josh

    Apparently there is a moment in the film where Sandler’s character yells out that people should not say the word faggot because it is a hurtful word. Ironic considering that a lot of the audience a Sandler film target probably have no problems using the word, among other hurtful words.

  • It’s possible that what appears to be a juvenile, low-brow movie could turn out to be intelligent and insightful. Look at Chasing Amy. Man in love with lesbian sounds like a crass sex comedy, but it turned out to be very adult in its view of relationships. Of course, Adam Sandler’s no Kevin Smith, so I don’t have high hopes.

  • Johnny

    Gay Rights groups and it has gotten nothing but approval, saying that the film focuses on working towards and acceptance.”

    GLAAD gave it the thumbs up, but GLAAD happens to be very suspect within the gay community, with many critical of how they seem obsessed with their GLAAD Media Awards (star-studded, lavish events that take place in 4 cities, over a period of 2 months, attended by 5000 people at a cost of several hundred dollars each for a dinner among the stars.) The Media Awards bring in over 4 million a year for the organization. GLAAD is really more of an awards show organization, and what little gay rights work they do seems to be an after-thought. Look at their handling of the Isaiah Washington scandal for instance. Black groups got Imus’s ass canned within weeks, in constrast GLAAD actively protected Washington, refusing even to call for his firing. In the real world, you refer to someone with that kind of hateful slur at work, and you will be fired, period, end of story.

    GLAAD was also toothless in their response to Ann Coulter calling John Edwards a faggot, it was the HRC that spearheaded an effort to get newspapers to drop her column. Perhaps that had to do with GLAAD having a Republican president, I certainly think it’s very inappropriate for a Republican to be president of a gay rights group (oh, and Sandler happens to be a Republican too.) In short, GLAAD sucks, and their endorsement of Larry & Chuck means nothing to me. They probably just thought their buddy Isaiah Washington would enjoy it.

  • Josh

    The Hollywood Reporter says that the film is just like any other Sandler film, although many of the actors outside of Sandler seem to be wanting to accomplish more with the film and the message. They point out James as someone who stands out. They write that they wish the film had a script like In And Out did. What surprised me is that I did not know that Alexander Payne and his partner who helped write Election and Sideways also worked on Chuck and Larry’s script

  • Ken

    Josh: MaryAnn is right with her statement that people already think that gays have it better than straights, which is bullshit. Same goes for if you are African American or Latino and on and on.

    The difference here is that African Americans and Latinos have the same legal standing as other ethnicities, even if in practice they don’t have the same opportunity.

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