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
You 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
i’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…
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…
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!?
Allyssa Maurice also shined for a moment on screen as Suzanne Weller.
Drink: 2 Shots
What’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.
Rock & Roll: ½ 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
Cameron Diaz – Norma Lewis
Gillian Jacobs – Dana
Allyssa Maurice – Suzanne Weller
Jenna Lamia – Dead Wife
James Marsden – Arthur Lewis
Frank Langella – Arlington Steward
See it only if you don’t expect too much.