Booze Revooze: A Drinker’s Skewed Review of THE BOX

The Box - poster

i Saw Cameron Diaz's Box Before You

[Click here for a guide to Booze Revooze and the rating system used]

From the soundtrack / in the Juiced-box: The Marshall Tucker Band – Can’t You See

[Press ‘Play’ to jam]

[Author’s note 2009/11/05: i can’t freaking believe it! Here in Yeman i got to see another film before the US release! (The first was The Descent: Part 2.) Sure, this one was only one day early, but still, i gotta take these little sips of pleasure wherever i can find them. Anyway, enjoy this sneak peak review…]

Ramblings: Thinking Inside The Box

Final Proof: 3 Shots

3 shotsYou know how you drink with that weirdo intellectual who sometimes takes himself too seriously? He’s cool but the more you get your buzz on, the more you’re ready to bail and hang out with mousy cute girls who aren’t old enough to drink legally yet. The smart guy says some really interesting things, things that make you think, but sometimes he’s way out there and other times he’s so far over your head you get a nosebleed. You usually end up having a better time than you think you will but there’s no way you’re gonna invite him over every time you go on a bender. The Box is like that.

Richard Kelly, nursing a cult reputation ever since Donnie Darko, should enjoy the same success with The Box. Those who liked DD, or anyone who wonders what it would be like if David Lynch directed a Twilight Zone episode, will get a kick out of The Box. Kelly’s directing has certainly matured; he handles the ‘period piece’ aspects with style (the film is set in 1976) and the clips we glimpse on the TV from time to time are trippy and poignant enough to make anyone born before 1970 nostalgic. He also does a good job balancing the freaky/brainy stuff with the fun/action stuff. Despite a couple scenes that drag a little toward the end, the pacing is nice and the intensity builds as the story develops.

There’s also the Kelly ‘feel’, present in Darko as well. His style is to make a new movie look old, like he’s shooting through a time lens, and it works for him here because it makes the film look as though it was actually made in the ’70’s.

The film stars Cameron Diaz who does her best Olsen Twin impression with her style and who tries on a ‘Southern’ (from Virginia) accent that everybody’s gonna start dissing because the world is full of haters, but is truly cute and endearing. You go, Cameron. You go, girl.

The story is also interesting. The original short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson was made into a Twilight Zone episode of the same name in 1986, but the movie goes way beyond the stopping points of both these. Kelly added to the screenplay and while he got a little carried away with the ‘woo woo’ stuff, his effort is pretty solid.

Speaking of the writing, here’s a deleted scene that featured me, Al K Hall, at the beginning of the film:

Scene, interior, The Bar None. Al K Hall sits at a booth in the back with Arlington Steward across from him. Arlington places The Box on the table between them, next to the fifth of mescal Al is drinking from.

Arlington: If you press this button, you will receive, in cash, the sum of one million dollars but

Al slaps at button.

Arlington: Please, sir! You get a million dollars–

Al slaps at button.

Arlington: [exasperated] Pay close attention to me. You will not receive the stipend until you hear everything I have to say, so your insistence on pressing the button is superfulous.

As I was saying, you will be given a briefcase with one million dollars [pauses; Al holds palm over the button at the ready] BUT someone, somewhere in the world will die.

Al smacks the button down.

Al: Fork it over, Scarface.

Arlington: It is someone whom you have never met.

Al smacks the button three times.

Al: Does that mean i get three million dollars now?

Al commences pressing button repeatedly.

Yeah, The Box is a pleasant surprise even for those of us who think checkers with vodka shots is the height of intellectual stimulation.

Buzz Kills (Watch Out for Spoilers)

Sex: 2 Shots

2 shotsi’d so love to give this more sex credit but the problem is Cameron Diaz stays overdressed for the entire movie. Even a scene when she’s wearing a white sweater and gets soaked to the skin is cut way short. Oh well; she really earned the two shots i’m giving the film because she could even make a cheerleader uniform sexy — wait, that is sexy — well, she could make something totally not sexy, sexy. i’ll just shut up now…

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz drunk

From The Last Time She Stopped By The Bar None

There was also Gillian Jacobs who got the coveted role of Dana The Babysitter. Or is it just the babysitter part that’s coveted. Hell if i know…

Gillian Jacobs

Gillian Jacobs

Here are the Silken Butterflies: you know, those beautiful and talented girls who grace the screen with their splendor during their oh so fleeting appearances on film.

Jenna Lamia played a dead body. Her performance was death defying. Can you believe she went uncredited!?

Jenna Lamia

Credit Where Credit's Due

Allyssa Maurice also shined for a moment on screen as Suzanne Weller.

Allyssa Maurice

Click On The Photo For Her Website

A Smoke

Drink: 2 Shots

2 shotsWhat’s here isn’t super original but at least there are drinks and drink references, especially with the husband (James Marsden as Arthur Lewis). There are drinks at the rehearsal dinner (Cameron drinks champagne, James goes for whiskey, neat) and as Arthur’s drama develops, he drinks more and more often. So, yeah, you gotta say the movie was pretty realistic. He also cuts out of the wedding early to scarf down some champagne, but that’s a pretty normal thing to do. i mean, you don’t have to be super stressed by lightning struck freaks with half their face melted off to the point you can see their teeth through their cheek to wanna get an early start celebrating at a boring ass wedding.

Whiskey neat

A Smoke

Rock & Roll: ½ Shot

1-2 shot

The only real rock we get comes during a reception at a wedding rehearsal dinner/dance where middle aged hipsters dance to Marshall Tucker’s “Can’t You See” and Derek & The Dominos’ “Bell Bottom Blues”. i stuck the Tucker at the top of this post so here are the Dominos from the Juiced-box:

[Just press ‘Play’]

Boring Technical Crap

Written by: Richard Kelly

Based on: The short story “Button, Button” by Richard Matheson

Directed by: Richard Kelly

Starring

Cameron Diaz – Norma Lewis

Gillian Jacobs – Dana

Allyssa Maurice – Suzanne Weller

Jenna Lamia – Dead Wife

James Marsden – Arthur Lewis

Frank Langella – Arlington Steward

Bottom Line

See it only if you don’t expect too much.

Booze Revooze: A Drinker’s Skewed View of AWAY WE GO

Away We Go - poster

[Click here for a guide to Booze Revooze and the rating system used]

It’s not really ‘rock’, but it’s good folk tuneage and it is from  the soundtrack: Alexi Murdoch – Orange Sky

[From the Juiced-box and the beautiful soundtrack, press ‘Play’ to play it]

Ramblings: Away We Going, Going, Gone

Final Proof: 4 Shots

4 shots

You know how you go to a bar and you meet strangers you’ve always known? Sometimes you’re just hanging out and you feel comfortable and it’s not because of the place so much but because of the people. The people feel like home. They’re people you can identify with, people so sincere you want to spend more time with them because they don’t care who you are as long as you are. The kind of patron that can make any bar your bar just because they’re there. They talk and you can’t stop punctuating their sentences with “Exactly” because everything out of their mouths is in your heart. They’re the kind of people that make you want to have another drink with them because they’ve got your back and you’ve got it all in common with them. That’s the way it is with Away We Go.

i was a little buzzed on two bottles of wine (one at lunch and one at home after work), dozed off in the movie and i still give it four shots. Away We Go is just that good.

A Smoke

Sam Mendes is English but nobody’s perfect.

He dated, among others, Rachel Weisz and Calista Flockart but i won’t hold that against him. He’s married to Kate Winslet and i’d like to hold it against her. Why am i babbling unnecessarily about him? Because he did a freaking great job.

i’m not gonna be some anal film critic who takes you back into Mendes’ childhood and tells you about his wet dreams involving his mother and how he made the stunning American Beauty and then some other film called Revolutionary Road. i’m gonna leave that to the smart people ’cause i got too much drink on and his history isn’t my business. Alls i got to say is that he’s finished his “American Trilogy” in style.

That he can do so well with so many different kinds of movies is a testament to his talent. American Beauty was this polished though quirky american tragedy, while Away We Go was an “indie” film in every respect except for the funding. Still, you couldn’ta guessed it wasn’t a real movie by watching it.

Another thing. The writers of this movie (Dave Eggers, Vendela Vida) did super work. First off, it’s not based on a comic book and god knows i’m pumped to see any movie where a writer hasn’t simply done a ‘cut & paste’ from a graphic novel but actually had an original thought and was able to translate that idea into a full length film. Not only that, but the screenplay was dead on–clever, catchy and oh my god so insightful.

For example, i’m a guy.

Miss Demeanor and i had a huge talk on the way back from the theater and i was trying to remember where i’d heard this (Miss D denies it came from her but i’m not so sure); all i know is i’m not clever enough to have thought this up on my own: Guys never completely grow up.

It’s a sad and twisted reality, and realizing it makes me pity women all the more because they have to put up with this gender that has tons of power in the modern world despite the little boy inside of us that never really goes away. Understanding this gesture from them is one of the secrets to understanding the benevolence of women.

It’s like a father who brings his kid into the bar and gives him tons of quarters to play the video games but no mattter what, the brat is always there bugging you when you’re trying to do adult things like have another round and flirt with the hot waitress who’s only flirting back because she knows you’re drunk enough to believe she’s flirting and has to worry about the tip your drunk ass is going to give her. She’s putting up with, dealing with and even encouraging the little boy in you because women are just that generous.

This acceptance on the female gender’s behalf is demonstrated flawlessly in Away We Go. The insights to relationships here is handled with such dexterity you feel like you’re getting a handjob.

Buzz Kills (Watch Out for Spoilers)

Sex: 1 Shot

1 shot

The movie begins with Burt (John Krasinski) under the sheet and giving head to his partner and no-way wife Verona (Maya Rudolph). Then he talks to her about how she tastes ‘different’ and in trying to ally her discomfort, they realize she’s pregnant. Very cute start to the flick and from there it only gets better.

For example, Maggie Gyllenhaal is in the movie:

mag0904075

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal

And as far as the sex goes, Maggie appears on screen breast feeding her 6-year-old kid because her character is hippie that way. Here’s what it looks like in real life:

Got Milk?

Got Milk?

We’ve also got Melanie Lynskey (who i ‘ve already posted hot shots of in my The Informant post here):

Melanie Lynskey

Melanie Lynskey

Melanie Lynskey

Melanie Lynskey

Another pretty talent in the film is Carmen Ejogo (as Verona’s sister Grace):

Carmen Ejogo

Leggo My Ejogo

Plus, you know me, i’m all about the Silken Butterflies: those beautiful and talented girls who grace the screen with their splendor during their oh so fleeting appearances on film. Here’s to hoping we see lots more of them.

Here’s the young Katherine Vaskevich:

Katherine Vaskevich

To round of the talent section of the show, there was a cameo by the tragically uncredited Sari Gagnon:

Sari Gagnon

Best of luck, ladies.
A Smoke

Drink: ½ Shot

1-2 shot

A couple brief references…

  1. In the airport when meeting someone’s sister, Burt gives the brother-in-law a bottle of wine and he takes off right then and there to find a corkscrew.
  2. On the way to a party/bar, they drink while riding in the car and make a forgettable toast.

A Smoke

Rock & Roll: 0 Shots

No rock, but the folk soundtrack suits the movie perfectly. Here’s another Alexi Murdoch song from the Juiced-box:

Boring Technical Crap

Written by: Dave Eggers, Vendela Vida

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Starring

Maya Rudolph – Verona De Tessant

John Krasinski – Burt Farlander

Maggie Gyllenhaal – LN

Carmen Ejogo – Grace De Tessant

Melanie Lynskey – Munch Garnett

Katherine Vaskevich – Katya

Sari Gagnon – College Student (uncredited 😦 )

Bottom Line

Definitely see it.