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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Louis C.K. should direct every sex scene in every romantic comedy—every single one. I watched Bridesmaids recently, and Kristen Wiig has two sex scenes where she wears a bra the entire time. The first scene is hilarious, with Wiig’s extreme discomfort, but no one dresses like this. The bra comes off eventually. I’m not picking on Bridesmaids, but the rom-com industry needs to put a stop to this practice immediately. I’ve seen it in Knocked Up (also twice!) and countless other pictures have the same problem. The first time in Knocked Up, it could have even been addresses as drunken fumbling, directly tying into the condom problem a minute later. It’s not a particularly difficult fix, I just get the sense that no one cares. The thing is, though, every time I see this, it kills the illusion that I’m watching people engage in an awkward act of lovemaking rather than actors portraying them. It just looks so unnatural.

Then, I wondered if I had ever seen a funny sex scene in a movie like this, and the answer is no. I did, however, see several in a television program, namely HBO’s Lucky Louie. It figures that Louis would be the genius to come up with the simplest solution this problem. Pamela Adlon, the actress playing his wife, would wear some kind of slip or nightie thing in their love scenes. It looked good, too, because it looked like something a woman might keep on when she fucks. They were sexy without being too binding or weird, she kept covered what she had to get paid extra to show, and the only unnatural or objectionable thing in those scenes was Louis’s penis. But that’s a different matter.

Young Adult, while not at all a romantic comedy, got around the nudity problem in a way that was in keeping with its weird protagonist’s style. Each time Mavis (Charlize Theron) was semi-nude (twice again!), she kept these flesh-colored rubber bra-cups on, or was still wearing them when waking up drunk. It was a creative way around showing her breasts fully, something we’ll be too hung up on to do for a long time to come, that felt right for the character.

I’m not asking to see actresses’ tits. Someone will leak those from her cellphone anyway. I’m not suggesting that the directors of the films mentioned are doing their jobs poorly, either. I just think that the movies should take a tip from a guy who’s already conquered their problem. It’s the idea of the bra in the love scene that needs to go away. Don’t rest on it, think of something else. There are still more ways to show women in a natural, sexual light without relying on something that just doesn’t belong there. Likely the first step is just to ask her what she thinks.

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This review contains **SPOILERS**

Writer/director Joe Cornish gives himself a nearly impossible task with opening Attack the Block the way that he does: five youths mug a lone woman, Sam, pulling a switchblade knife on her, among other weapons, threaten her, knock her on the ground and force her to remove her ring. It’s a scary scene and you’re never quite sure how the leader, Moses, is really going to play it. He seemed to genuinely want to hurt her by the end. She perhaps only escapes because an Unidentified Flying Objects crashes into a car beside them, distracting her attackers. It’s a hell of a scene to build sympathetic characters from. Unfortunately, Cornish doesn’t really try.

The UFO turns out to contain a relatively harmless alien life form, which the boys track down and beat to death for fun. These are their first two actions in the film: a threat of gang violence against a woman, and killing and parading the body of an unknown creature. The hole was dug so deep for me that I felt next to nothing when the real action began. The alien was, in fact, a female, and its death triggered an invasion of its species, aptly described by one of the boys as “gorilla-wolf-motherfuckers.” They wipe out two cops arresting Moses, who manages to escape in the paddy wagon, and go on to kill pretty much anyone in contact with him. The cops were the only victims I felt anything for, as they were only doing their jobs and were killed out of nowhere. Everyone else in the line of the massacre was a predator in his own right, from any of the gang of boys to Hi-Hatz, a violent drug dealer who immediately turns on Moses because movies like this need a human antagonist as well as an otherworldly one. Once he understands the alien threat, there’s no genuine reason for Hi-Hatz to maintain his grudge with Moses. He just does until he can get his.

Improbably, just as Sam is letting herself back into her apartment, the gang comes out of the elevator and forces their way inside, as if they hadn’t terrorized her enough. They’re just looking for a place to hide, though, and a scene for Sam to show off her nursing skills on one of the injured boys. We go on to learn a few rudimentary facts about Moses after this, like that he is 15, lives with his uncle (which I think was supposed to explain his violent tendencies, but I couldn’t say how), and that you should feel sorry for him because he sleeps in a Spider-Man sleeping bag. I think that was the logic of the movie, because as soon as she learns that he is 15, Sam immediately develops sympathy for her mugger. It’s all too haphazard to generate any real feeling and mostly serves to detract from the film’s real stars, the alien horde.

Giant balls of fur and luminous fangs and eyes, they never seem like they could have found their way to Earth from outer space. But that’s not their point. They’re mindless killing machines, and in that regard, they do pretty well. They suffer from a movie monster’s ability to attack precisely only when the movie calls for it. Some moments they strike viciously and efficiently, smearing someone into paste. Other times, they allow a child to get past them inexplicably. It’s an uneven handling of their threat, but it provides one of the film’s best visuals in Hi-Hatz exiting an elevator filled with dead aliens, absolutely dripping with blood. You get a real sense of his menace from that one image.

Cornish has a great eye for these kinds of shots. As I mentioned, he develops a world of violence in “the Block” early, so much so that crashing meteors barely even affect its citizens beyond curiosity about what’s dropping on them. It permeates their entire existence as portrayed here. Nothing exists in this world but predators and prey, the latter proving to be largely female. It’s a very casual and disturbing attitude presented in the film, because one stoner character presents as easily as suitable target as Sam, and exhibits more fear than she, yet he is never accosted in any way. I know this is supposed to be a fun summer action film, but this hampered my enjoyment of it greatly. The emergence of Moses as the hero never sat well with me either. His turn from thug to savior feels forced and I didn’t believe it.

That’s not to say that I found it unenjoyable. It’s visually stunning, especially when the aliens hit Earth with their whatever-carries-them-here. They light up the sky and careen into the planet with amazing impact. The damage they render is palpable. The question of how these ravenous furballs managed to pilot a spacecraft really never occurred to me until after I’d finished the film, and by then I didn’t care. Their attacks on people are fantastically realized, too. They come from nowhere and leave only smears of blood and shredded clothes. With characters I cared about, these things would have been terrorizing. As it stands, I was rooting for the monsters.

In spite of any negativity, I look forward to more of Cornish’s work. I think he did a great job with this film. It looks amazing and it feels naturally gritty, I just wanted someone besides a victim to root for. I wanted someone to really strive to be a hero, rather than just look after himself until the very last minute. 3 stars