I had an extremely busy weekend if you consider staying in and doing nothing but watching movies and TV busy, which I do. Obviously.
Friends With Benefits - If you're going to make a movie about people who have a lot of sex and are friends and then (SPOILER) fall in love, it is of the utmost importance that your two leads have believable sexual chemistry as well as an easy, friendly kind of chemistry. Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake have so much of both that I'm a little surprised it didn't leap off the screen and cause people to start fornicating in the theater.
It's a romantic comedy and no one expects that these two will remain friends with benefits. We all know that they're going to fall in love. But what makes this romantic comedy enjoyable is how easy it is to believe that's what's happening and that it's happening in a fairly organic and fun way. With the exception of the two becoming inseparable BFFs immediately upon meeting, everything else seems to make perfect sense.
Both actors are likable, funny, sexy and smart as is most of the writing. I'd see it again in a hot second.
No Strings Attached - On the other hand, this is an example of what happens when you make a movie about friends fucking and then falling in love when you cast people who don't have any sexual, romantic or friendly chemistry with one another. It lays there like day old pizza getting dryer and more congealed by the minute.
Where Friends With Benefits just made their leads friends and got shit moving, No Strings Attached spent the first 20 or so minutes of the movie creating an elaborate back story about all the various times in their lives that the leads had nearly become involved in a meaningful relationship (if you define meaningful relationship as a handjob in the woods or an awkward conversation at the Farmers' Market). Then when they finally have sex it seems like that scene in the first episode of MTV's Awkward (are you watching that? Watch it. It's really good!) where Jenna loses her virginity to Matty in the storage shed and it's all uncomfortable faces and stifled grunting and awkward conversation.
The movie isn't hot, it isn't funny and it isn't interesting.
Just Go With It - I like Jennifer Aniston. I don't necessarily dislike Adam Sandler, but that might be because I don't watch very many of his movies. Steering clear of seeing him often keeps me from being really annoyed by his Adam Sandleriness. This movie was not good and it wasn't very funny or charming but the scenes when Aniston and Sandler were talking like real people who are friends were sort of nice. They had a good rhythm. The kids were cute and funny. Everything else about the movie is worth never mentioning ever again.
Black Swan - This film was like being stuck in Darren Aronofsky's fever dream. It was a single story that went in two parallel directions simultaneously. It was a fairly stunning movie visually and if you enjoy ballet, that was quite pretty. But mostly this film just felt meaningless. It wasn't about anything. Or, I guess it was about madness but it was like it was about madness without being ABOUT madness.
I wasn't even that impressed with the acting and I'd hoped to see why that had gotten such raves. Watching this right after watching No Strings Attached made me realize that sometimes the best Natalie Portman can do is be blank. Emoting is hard.
Anyway, I didn't care for it but if you like purposely weird movies with exquisite and disturbing imagery, you'll probably enjoy it.
Inception - Yes, I just watched Inception for the first time. No, I do not have an excuse for my tardiness. Speaking of stunning visuals, no one has ever had a better idea than putting Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in those suits and Marion Coltillard is about the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.
I spent the entire movie being like "ooookay...nonsense, nonsense, nonsense" and waiting for the levels of complexity to collapse in on themselves and reveal that the entire thing was really Mal's dream all along. Then the movie is like "it's that complexity was just to make you THINK we were going big with it but then we went small" I was a little disappointed. Then I remembered what Joseph Gordon-Levitt's ass looked like in those pants and all was forgiven. True story.
The Mechanic - I haven't seen every movie Jason Statham has ever been in and I probably won't, but if he does a movie where he beats people up, shoots guns, drives cars and is generally badass in any other action-movie kind of way, I will watch the fuck out of it. Unfortunately, I like the movies more when someone else - in this case Ben Foster - isn't getting in the way of Statham's ass-kickery. Foster had this whole, whiny, "I was a disappointment to my father and now he's all dead and I have to learn to be just like him so he'll love me" complex that sort of killed the joy I usually get from watching movies where Jason Statham beats and/or kills people indiscriminately.
On the other hand, he took his clothes off and he's Jason Statham so it wasn't a total waste.
Beautiful People - I finished up the last 4 or 5 episodes of Beautiful People over the weekend. It seems like the show was just finding it's footing, just realizing that Sophie was the weakest link and dialing back the amount of screen time they gave her but it was too late.
Karen was by far the most interesting of the three leads and they took their sweet time giving her a story that the audience could get invested in and I suspect that may have been part of the show's downfall. An entire season plus of Sophie's over-done innocence and wide-eyed mooning were more than any viewer should be expected to take. They obviously weren't sure whether or not they'd be renewed so it's an open-ended bow which I wasn't wild about. In my mind, I'll remember it as ending 20 minutes sooner right after Karen and Crabby Ben finally made out.
What About Brian - I remember watching the pilot for this show way back when and passing on the show. My issue with it was that as a single 30-something with all married friends, I AM Brian. I didn't feel like I needed to watch the story of my life told through much prettier people on TV. Especially since TV Brian was sure to get a lot more sex than real-life me. I guess I was just a lot more sensitive about my singleness back then.
This show also took a few episodes to get it's footing and stop being about single, pining Brian in a sea of perfect relationships and start being about a group of friends in various stages of their relationships. They started season 2 by killing the horrible Brian/Marjorie/Adam love triangle dead (thank you, Jesus) and then they started focusing more on other relationships in the group. I don't just mean the relationships between the couples, but the relationships between everyone in the group.
One thing that drives me crazy is when a show wants you to believe that a group of people are all friends with each other despite the fact that they never hang out in groups larger than 2 and some of them never interact with each other at all. This show was so good at showing us that all of these people genuinely care about and like each other.
It's not unexpected, though it is awesome, to watch Deena and Nic hang out and snipe at each other and then realize that they're taking their own shit out on one another and still be friends. Or even the time Nic was like "Deena, I'd like to feel bad for you but you brought this shit on yourself with that stupid open marriage idea. You've got to live with the consequences of your own wrongness, honey." And Deena was all "fuck, that's not what I wanted to hear, but you're totally right." It's that sort of friendship where you know they can and will tell each other the truth because that's how much they love each other.
More unexpected and completely wonderful are the times Nic leans on Dave. When he calls her "honey" out of great affection without once seeming skeevy in any way. Or the time when they were leaving the hospital and Adam put his arm around Deena - because it was cold, not because he was making a move on his friends' woman. And no one ever casts a suspicious glance at these moments. Heather wasn't watching her husband touch his female friend and getting her hackles up. They all get it and it's fine.
I got through episode 16 of 24 yesterday and I'm completely loving it. I want Deena and Dave to reconcile SO MUCH; I love Nic and Bella and I just want her to be a good mom and a fabulous woman without questioning herself; I'm thrilled with the addition of Ivy and Jimmy to the cast - Amanda Foreman makes everything better; I worship the ground Adam walks on though I do not understand how we've made it 16 episodes without anyone yet telling Matt Davis to get naked. And in case you didn't read it on Twitter this weekend, his hair in this show was phenomenal. If I could, I'd call up the hair people on The Vampire Diaries set and offer to pay them big bucks to make his hair look like that again.
Where season two is falling a little off the rails for me is Brian. I mean, he's a likable character and certainly believable as I actually know someone exactly like him but that doesn't make it any easier to watch him make bad life choices. Bridget, really? At least Car Girl was sort of unintentionally hilarious.
I'm excited to watch more of this show and sad that it didn't last longer. If you have NetFlix Instant, I highly recommend adding this one to your queue.