Friday, March 20, 2015
A kind of subversive screwball mashup of Hollywood and Occupy Wall Street, the health care crisis satire Accidental Love as co-written by Al Gore daughter Kristin Gore and based on her novel Sammy's Hill, comes off as a different inconvenient truth. When not a deliberate combo of daring and daffy.
Seven years in the making, Accidental Love faced a financial dilemma you could say concurrently rivals anyone seeking actual medical attention in this country. The comic misadventure stars Jessica Biel as Alice, a rollerskating retro-burger drive-in waitress who gets a nail stuck in her head during a construction mishap. And is denied the necessary surgery for lack of health insurance.
But at the same time, even though prone to strange, new uninhibited behavior resulting from the injury, Alice likewise experiences new thinking outside the box. And she's soon off to DC, determined to corner that corrupt contingent of officials there known as politicians. And specifically one tainted but possibly redeemable congressman, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
And where Alice's push for health care legislation and the operation she needs, is pitted against a bill destined to militarize the moon - being pushed through in a convoluted ploy involving devious Capitol Hill conspirators counting Catherine Keener, James Brolin and Pee-Wee Herman, don't ask. Tracy Morgan also turns up in an unfortunate coincidence, as Alice's friend with his own set of bad health issues.
Accidental Love has its heart in the right place, but does itself somewhat of a disservice by not trusting its audience that has been fed an infantile, unrelenting diet of Hollywood - along with the tabloid tendencies of the capitalist media, to care about serious issues up on the screen. Kind of like feeding the masses fried chicken - but hold the organic veggies for last.
The movie seems to be part of confrontational but flawed fluff in an emerging new genre that could be termed too close for comfort controversy cinema. Created by mainstream filmmakers and actors who just want to care about the world, and that recently counts The Cobbler and The Gunman as well. But whatever the shortcomings, their decent sentiments ultimately rule. And Accidental Love gets a pass for sheer outrage. Or as Reverend Norm (Kurt Fuller) declares so tellingly in the flaky finale, 'it's messy - as life often is.'
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Money and morals are definitely a difficult if impossible combination to pull off. And this contradiction could not be more true than in the impulse lately of mainstream filmmakers and actors to make meaningful movies with an indie heart, while keeping a foot firmly in Hollywood.
That is, when it comes to what formulas that flourish at the box office, namely action thrillers and crude comedy. Which seems to be lately heralding in a peculiar new emerging, unfortunate juxtaposed genre, that aims to sell pressing political issues to the public by sugarcoating them with fluff ranging from mindless to inane.
And in that sense, such films may reveal more about mistrust of the masses to comprehend their own basic human needs and what's ailing America. And that condescension likewise extends to film critics in a different sort of way. Namely, an even more entrenched class bias that not only expresses contempt for the masses, but critical blinders as well in understanding the world only on their own primarily middle aged, white, and comfortable middle class terms.
Which brings up three recent politically driven releases, all resoundingly denounced - surprise, surprise - by critics: The Cobbler [urban removal themed] and Accidental Love [the health care crisis]. Both are crafted with sincere conviction, no matter how muddled with goofy comedy. But the third, The Gunman, directed by Pierre Morel [Taken] fails on all counts.
A kind of Anti-American Sniper - though this is in no way a sequel - Sean Penn stars as Terrier, a double dipping, ultimately remorseful mercenary staked out in the Congo. Presumably assisting an NGO with public works development, he's likewise doing the bidding of Western mineral interests. And in that capacity, Terrier assassinates a government minister in the way of a multinational's theft of natural resources there. And any of this seemingly a pretext for lots of gunplay - indicated without subtlety by the title - the relentlessly bulletproof Penn, a climactic showdown at a bullfighting ring and bodies littered across numerous international locales.
To sum up, in the midst of multiple mercenaries, matadors, a two-timing damsel in distress, corporate conmen and standard macho mayhem with a differently duplicitous Javier Bardem checking in as well, dishonor among thieves abounds. Not to mention that NGOs - without any significant research kicking in that might have uncovered them as more often than not, notoriously in bed with the multinationals everywhere themselves. And in just as many cases, more effective as shrewd propaganda tools, than the blatant activity of mercenaries.
In any case oddly enough and back to those matadors in question, the aggravated anti-hero is saved by the bull.