I should have known better than to see a film entitled Crazy, Stupid, Love, because the title implies that such a movie is bound to set out to prove that love can be crazy and stupid, and such a claim is extraordinarily tiresome. Writer Dan Fogelman also shows how love can persist even between divorced couples, and how love can mean more when a character contrives to proclaim it in front of a surprisingly sweet, tolerant, and sentimental audience, such as the one that gathers for a junior high school graduation. Love, love, love! Love means stuffing your movie with major stars (Kevin Bacon!), so that no one looks unfamiliar so that the viewer can never suspend his or her disbelief in the story. All of the stars must then compete to get enough screen time to justify their presence, thereby causing the movie to bloat with a contrived and unrelated subplot to suit the growing stardom of Emma Stone. Love means ogling the six pack abs of the suddenly omnipresent Ryan Gosling (who plays bland ladies man Jacob) when he used to be so much more compelling in smaller, artier movies such as Lars and the Real Girl. Love means tracking the fall and slow rise of hapless Cal (Steve Carell) as he learns that he really loves his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) even as the film's marketing emphasizes a scene where he sleeps with Marisa Tomei, thereby titillating the middle class audience even as the movie ultimately caters to their conservative values (much as Bad Teacher did). Cal should have fought for Emily instead of falling out of the car! Love means learning that love conquers all. Love means watching a 13 year old (Jonah Bobo) make endless declarations of his love to his babysitter (Analeigh Tipton), who, weirdly, smiles at his youthful importunity. Love makes people do and say the darndest things. Love means making many allusions to The Scarlet Letter (the film prefers nodding in Emma Stone's direction to actually giving her a character). Love hurts like a bitch, don't it? Love bites. Love is a many splendored thing, full of pain, loss, hope, and joy, but I just found pain in sitting through Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Endings: Stanley Kubrick's The Killing
From my piece in the May issue of Sight & Sound, out on stands now, the ending of Stanley Kubrick's the Killing. Nicely edited for space (yes, I went over wo...