Welcome to “Another Movie Guy?”! I review recent new releases, and then mention similar movies worth checking out. If all goes according to plan, you’ll have some new additions to your Netflix queue. Or someone with whom you can angrily disagree.
Because of the long weekend, I had the chance to see yet another new release. In Search of a Midnight Kiss is the story of Wilson, a lonely guy who spends his New Year’s Even with Vivian, a girl he meets on Craigslist. The movie bears a striking resemblance to Before Sunrise. ISOAMK, however, has an air of authenticity that Before Sunrise lacks. Wilson and Vivian are no Jesse and Celine – I knew I was in for something different when Wilson shaves his lame-ass Ethan Hawke goatee before meeting his date.
The movie has a stellar opening. Thinking he’s alone, Wilson Photoshops the face of his roommate’s girlfriend onto a nude woman. He then masturbates until he gets caught. Jacob, the roommate, sees the wank session as a symptom of Wilson’s depression, and urges him to post a want ad. Wilson sullenly begins his posting with “Misanthrope seeks Misanthrope.” Vivian starts the date by lying and insulting Wilson, trying to keep him off kilter. Once it becomes clear that Wilson is a decent guy, she drops her defenses. They talk. They reveal secrets.
Without discussing the details, the movie works because the audience understands the relationship as well as the characters do. All is made clear in the movie’s final, bittersweet moments. Once it was over, I appreciated how great the actors were. They had a tricky job of subtly developing, but they both pull it off. The directorial style is simple, allowing the audience to sink into the story. Unlike (almost) all romcoms, In Search of a Midnight Kiss is genuinely romantic. Drag your significant other to see it. They won’t hate you afterward.
Note: The movie is currently playing at Bethesda’s Landmark theater, but you can also pay $7 and watch at home with Comcast On Demand. It’s in the “IFC in Theaters” section. Unfortuantely, the On Demand version is in color – others reviews say that its theatrical run is in black-and-white. Personally, I would have preferred to see the theatrical version.
Here are some other talky, romantic movies that feature authentic characters:
2 Days in Paris. Julie Delpy directs this effective cross between Before Sunrise and Woody Allen. Jack (Adam Goldberg) and Marion (Delpy) are finishing up their European holiday. Marion visits family and old flames while Jack, who doesn’t speak the language, becomes increasingly annoyed with his girlfriend. Golberg, commonly remembered as the Hebrew Hammer, is a total neurotic whose kvetching is only exacerbated by the easy-going French attitude of those who surround him. As tensions rise, so does the funny, and like all reliable comedies, everything finally does work out. Yes, the movie feels like a riff on a the same thing, but is nonetheless entertaining.
Broken English. This is yet another movie in which Parker Posey walks a fine line between ennui and rage. She plays Nora, a 30ish New Yorker who is unlucky in love. After a string of disappointments, she meets the young, confident Julien (Melvil Poupaud). They have a brief affair before Julien heads back to Paris. Nora eventually follows him across the Atlantic, but loses his phone number along the way. Stuck in Paris, she wanders the city and (obviously) learns more about herself. Unlike 2 Days in Paris which found new ways to be fresh, Broken English feels like a tepid remake. In fact, the movie’s last lines are lifted nearly word-for-word from Before Sunset (minus the Nina Simone, of course). I recommend this one for only the most hardcore Posey fans (I know you’re out there). Also, my friend Robin, who is a far snappier dresser than me, totally loved the outfits that Posey wore.
Conversations with Other Women. A man (Aaron Eckhart) and a woman (Helen Bonham Carter) see one another at a wedding. They flirt, and it becomes gradually clear who these people are, and what they mean to each other. Conversations with Other Women is filmed in split-screen. Sometimes we see both Man and Woman (they are never given names) fill the screen. Sometimes we see their past. Director Hans Canosa uses this gimmick well, showing how memories flood back when one encounters an old flame. Both Carter and Eckhart, who recently played unsavory characters, bring vulnerability and charm. There is real chemistry between these two. Given Man and Woman’s relatively advanced age, more is at stake – they lead seperate lives, but share a past. The movie has a satisfying conclusion, and is easily the most wistful of the movies mentioned here.
That’s it for “Another Movie Guy?”! Tune in next week when I trek through the tundra.