WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 35

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 35th WWW:

1) A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon:
The one thing I remembered about this late ‘80s teen movie is that the title had the unfortunate side effect of causing all the kids in my middle school band to call our teacher “Jimmy”, a familiarity we probably wouldn't have taken on had he not shared a name with a movie character. In any case, over the years I figured its protagonist was some less popular Ferris Beuller that never gained the same cult status. So when I finally saw the movie this week after all these years, I found that wasn't the case at all. Sure, Jimmy has a way with the ladies in the film, at least every one except the one he seems to truly care about, but he's not as together or sure as Ferris. He comes from a working class 1950s family, but thanks to his father's hard work, he grew up going to school with rich kids. Faced with the dilemma of going off to business school while his friends go off to real universities, Jimmy is as out-of-control as any teenager, fueled by his hormones and his emotions. Even when he tries to help his buddy(a ridiculously young Matthew Perry) get a girl, his own charisma and libido get in the way. When he drives his mother's friend home, he lingers far too long, giving in to temptation and widening the gap between him and his girlfriend. And as cool and collected as he seems with his beatnik poetry and quick wit, we gradually see that Jimmy knows less than those around him. He's not the manipulator; that's just what those manipulating him want him to think, and it gets him in trouble more than once. It's a coming of age story, a reckless journey of self-discovery as he finds out where he's supposed to be, and who he surprisingly has the most in common with. This was one of the late River Phoenix' earliest theatrical films, and only hints at his potential. Other than Perry, other notable stars include Ione Skye and a blink-and-you'll-miss-him appearance by Johnny Galecki as Reardon's kid brother. This won't stand the test of time or attain the cult status of other teen films from that decade, but it's certainly worth seeing at least once.

2) The Time Traveler's Wife:
Eric Bana stars as a man with an unusual genetic anomaly that causes him to leap through time at various points in his own life. He can observe, and even interact, but he can never change things. Or perhaps he already has, since his visits to his future wife through the years since she was a little girl almost guaranteed she would fall in love with him when she met him in the present. The “science” behind these leaps isn't dwelled upon, nor the main focus of the film. Rather, it's interesting to see the contrasting perspective of his wife, Rachel McAdams, who experiences things in a linear fashion, against Bana's character, who wouldn't have memories of things he hadn't done yet. So when he meets her for the first time, she's already known him her whole life. It is only later in his own life that he first travels back in time to visit her in the past. His trips are usually brief, and completely out of his control. His clothes don't travel with him, but since he seems drawn to certain key times and places, he learns to have clothes lying around just in case. It's a thought-provoking romance that, despite the time travel, isn't too hard to follow. Rather, it raises the question of destiny and true love, and how we'll always be drawn to the people we're meant to be with, in any place, at any time. Time may flow in one direction for us, but certain moments are eternal.

3) Surrogates:
I didn't find this film as bad as people said it was, either because I enjoyed ‘90s sci fi or because I haven't read the graphic novel yet(although it is in my collection somewhere from the days when I designed catalogs selling such things). Perhaps this may be a case of concept versus execution, because while the execution falls a little short, both with some predictable “twists” and a running time that was just under an hour-and-a-half, I did like the concept. In the not too distant future, real human interaction has declined. People don't leave their homes, but rather remote link up to robotic facsimiles of themselves, of their most ideal selves. So we get to see Bruce Willis look like he did back in the days when he kept a full head of hair, and an aged, haggard version of the Bruce we see these days. The whole thing is an overt but good metaphor for the digital age of social networking. We do it with the internet. We put up our best photos, or no photos at all, and there's never any guarantee that the person you're communicating with is who you think she is. The film(and presumably comic) take this to the next level with walking, talking almost-real stand-ins. A small percentage of the population remains natural, lives out in the world, and opposes this new, artificial society. Mankind lives without consequences. Robots can't catch diseases from one another, and the user faces no danger of death. Society becomes decadent, but the feeling of immortality is removed once someone unleashes a weapon that not only takes out a surrogate, but sends feedback that fries the user as well. It had potential and the notion that our world could go this route isn't that far-fetched, but I really do need to check the source material, and see how it compares.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



Blogger Lorna said...

I kind of like Surrogates and preferred the Time Traveller's Wife as a book. I'm not a fan of Eric Bana, for one thing, and for another, too much went unexplained in the movie. I liked your wreview of Jimmy Reardon, and will seek it out.

3/21/2010 5:00 AM  

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