my week at the movies: ‘Love Happens,’ ‘A Serious Man,’ ‘The Invention of Lying,’ ‘I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell’

Weird how it feels like a “slow” week when I’ve got “only” four movies on my slate. Four movies, that is, in a screening room, which isn’t counting all the press roundtables I’m doing this week, and the stack of DVDs I want to get to, and the IFC movies available on demand I’d like to watch, and so on. Not that I’ll actually get to them all: no, they’ll just keep sitting there in those piles around my desk, alternately taunting me and weeping inconsolably at how it’s obvious that I never loved them and are clearly enjoying breaking their hearst by ignoring them…

If I were inventing a fake movie and a fake poster for that fake movie for a real movie that wanted to send up Hollywood’s love of apocalyptic levels of bullshit and schmaltz when it comes to “romance,” I might come up with a title like Love Happens (opens in the U.S. on September 18, and in the U.K. on October 9) and a poster that looks like this one. Really? Two beautiful celebs are gonna fall in love despite all the odds against two gorgeous people being attracted to each other, and achieve a golden glow of eternal happiness? Do you think anyone involved is aware that this looks like one of those ridiculous Hallmark cards that make you wanna barf… or was that the intention? Writers Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson were responsible for the grief porn Dragonfly, and seeing as how Aaron Eckhart plays a guy who writes a book about coping with loss and Jennifer Aniston is a woman who comes to him for help, I expect more of the same.

At least I have the Coen Brothers to save my sanity. A Serious Man (opens in the U.S. on October 2, and in the U.K. on November 20). I don’t care what this film is about — it’s the Coens, and that’s all I need to know. Though it does look intensely weird and fascinating.

Apparently the title of The Invention of Lying (opens in the U.S. and the U.K. on October 2) isn’t any sort of metaphor — this isn’t based on a literary novel about the loss of childhood innocence and purity or anything: it’s about a world in which everyone tells the truth, until one guy figures out that you can, in fact, lie. I imagine that liar is Ricky Gervais, who cowrote and codirected the film. I hope it’s better than Ghost Town. It does have a great cast, including Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Christopher Guest, and John Hodgman, among others…

I’d never heard of Tucker Max before, but now I discover that he’s a shallow moron obsessed with taking about how he’s sexually attracted to other shallow morons and the lengths to which he’ll go in order to cajole women into having sex with him (unless he’s raping them, then he doesn’t worry about the cajoling part). It seems this is the stuff of New York Times bestsellers. And people say literature is dead. I think the little shit is making it all up, anyway, but now there’s a movie based on his “life”: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (opens in the U.S. on September 25; no U.K. release date has been announced yet). It sounds like perhaps he should worry that Satan isn’t as big a fan of nonconsensual sex with people under his sway as Max is.

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