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Movie Reviews: Magic Mike, Sliding Doors and The Artist

Last weekend Miss Manners came to visit! I was so excited! Her on-call schedule usually doesn’t allow her to travel three hours away, but she is free for a few weeks due to her family’s summer trips. So she came here and we ate well and watched movies.

Of course we saw Magic Mike on Friday night. The previews made it look like a sexy, fun, potentially romantic dramedy.

How could this NOT be fun?!?!? (Flickr: Discutivo)

In reality, it was a drama that happened to focus on men who are paid to take their clothes off and dance. Not sexy. Not fun, really. It was fun at first — Channing Tatum is a fantastic dancer, Matthew McConaughey acted the hell out of his role — but once the money issues, family drama and drug binges showed up, it was more depressing than anything. The acting was solid and I think Channing Tatum is the human equivalent of a golden retriever: happy, sweet, optimistic and lovable. The strippers were fun to look at. But while it ends on a potentially happy note, there wasn’t much long-term resolution. Stay off the pole, kids.

Saturday we watched Sliding Doors while the younger girls napped, and My Chemical Romance did errands with the older kids. I love Sliding Doors, especially because pre-GOOP Gwyneth was so great in it.

PreGOOP1 (image from imoviesshika)

Early on, the film splits into two stories — one in which she catches the tube and comes home early to find her boyfriend in bed with his ex-girlfriend, and one in which she misses the tube and therefore misses the ex-girlfriend and continues her life with her horrible boyfriend. Obviously her lives diverge pretty rapidly — and keeping track is made easier thanks to a post-breakup hair cut and dye for pre-GOOP1. It’s another movie that ends on a positive-yet-ambiguous note, but I have more long-term hope for the characters in Sliding Doors than Magic Mike.

The Artist is a movie I’d always wanted to see in the theatres but never got around to it. Miss Manners was always vocal about how boring it looked, and before we watched it I told her I hoped she would love it and tell everyone how great it is. My Chemical Romance watched it with us and pronounced it blah. It was difficult to watch, at first, because I felt like I was missing something; characters talk and there are no quote cards. Obviously the acting — at one point referred to as the camera-mugging — was fantastic. I followed everything that was happening. The plot is somewhat like Singin’ in the Rain, from the point of view of a more introspective (and male) version of Lina Lamott. Silent movie actor gets left out in the cold when talkies start getting made. First he scoffs at them, then he panics. Meanwhile, an actress he met early in her career — when she was just an extra hoping for his autograph — rises to fame in talkies, while he is relegated to obscurity.

The Artist (image from NYTimes Movie review)

But she uses her fame to try and help him. Overall, I thought it was fantastic, and I want to see it again when it comes on HBO or whatever.

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