Olivier Assayas' dreamy French flick Something in the Air opens in a high school courtyard "not far from Paris," where dozens of teenagers are milling around, dressed in cropped or shaggily over-long 1970's fashions. The next scene shows them launching themselves in protest on the streets and subsequently fleeing some vicious police brutality. In his film, Assayas has captured an almost ineffable energy of both youth and revolution—in which everything is simultaneously exciting and insufferably stalled.
In New York magazine's review of Admission, David Edelstein says of Paul Rudd, "Everybody doesn't like somebody, but nobody doesn't like Paul Rudd." In Prince Avalanche, Rudd attempts to cast off his universal affability. Rudd's Alvin is characterized by dismissive, elitist, self-conscious, and annoying tics. He says things like, "reap the rewards of solitude." He sits backwards in a chair when dispensing advice. Rudd skillfully delves into the soul of a pretentious, unlikable snob. Or as unlikable as it gets for Paul Rudd, anyway.
We're so trained to watch romantic movies that are of the dreaded rom-com variety—with its silly conventions, outlandish plots, and preternaturally good-looking people—that seeing something that is familiar and real is not only shocking and disorienting, but really rewarding. Weekend is a movie just like that.
That headline is "funny" on two levels! On one because the film—based on Stephanie Meyer's cheesetatstic books (disclosure: I only just started the first one)—is about a blood-sucking vampyr and the moony mortal girl who loves him. It's also funny because the whole this-is-the-best-thing-ever trend is agressively belabored and irksome. I mean, look, the movie will be boffo box office anyway—swoony fantasy nerdettes are a willful group, with lots of disposable income now that they're too old to buy Lisa Frank products. But it is some small, quiet vindication that in two early reviews, from Variety and the Chicago Tribune, the movie sounds less than stunning, beautiful, or glorious, to use Meyer's purple parlance. Take a look at some of the critics' takes after the jump. From the Variety review: "...a disappointingly anemic tale of forbidden love that should satiate the pre-converted but will bewilder and underwhelm viewers who haven't devoured Stephenie Meyer's bestselling juvie chick-lit franchise." "But even with angsty rock songs, lurching camerawork and emo-ish voiceover at her disposal, Hardwicke can't get inside the head of her young protagonist, Isabella "Bella" Swan (Kristen Stewart); consequently, Bella's decision to get hot and heavy with a hot-and-hungry vampire, far from seeming like an act of mad, transgressive passion, comes across as merely stupid and ill-considered. The result is a supernatural romance in which the supernatural and romantic elements feel rushed, unformed and insufficiently motivated, leaving audiences with little to do but shrug and focus on the eye-candy." "Chase-thriller endgame seems to sputter to a halt when it's barely begun." And from the Trib review: "'Low-key' is not the adjective you'd expect to describe a highly anticipated vampire movie, but there it is." "Hardwicke was right to concentrate on getting the smoldering down between her stars, but the story depends on Bella's (and the audience's) amazement at this strange new world of supernatural feats. If there's a sequel—and there likely will be—here's Job One: Show us, in a striking way, what these undead can do when they're not letting their hair do the fwooping." The Trib is decidedly more positive than Variety, but both definitely make the film seem underwhelming. Again, not that the crazed legion of fans will care all that much. They're mostly just going for the sexy Edward the Vamp groin tinglings that the rest of us can get at home, for free, while watching Spike on Buffy DVDs. See, I'm not a nerd.