"I don’t know why people are always willing to accept and even like flawed male characters. We’ve seen so many lovable anti-heroes who are curmudgeons or addicts or bad fathers and a lot of those characters have become beloved icons and I don’t see women allowed to play the same parts. So it was really important to me to try and turn that around." - Diablo Cody
It's true that Atticus Finch aside, most great male characters are more like Travis Bickle, Norman Bates, or Jack Torrance: alienated, unhinged, cool as shit. When the Oscars made 1992 The Year Of The Woman, it felt like a mean commentary on the thing we all long realized: that the bulk of prestigious films are made by, for, and about men. This year, the whole old morally complicated white guy breaking the law formula turned out to not be completely infallible. Despite the continued acid reign of Breaking Bad, you shouldn't bet the farm on Luck -- and Mad Men is so beloved because it has equally complex/interesting characters of both sexes.
The Diablo Cody penned, Jason Reitman directed, and Charlize Theron illuminated film Young Adult opened in limited release last week. If you haven't seen trailers or reviews yet the movie is a dark somewhat-romantic comedy, and its conceit is a story that follows the typical Hollywood rom-com beats with the twist that the main character we usually lovelovelove is an unchanging abomination of a human being. (This is not unlike Noah Baumbach's Greenberg and Judd Apatow's Funny People, which suggests an emerging trend in Hollywood might be "unlikable is the new likable"). Can you deal with an unlikable lead? Is that concept exciting, or exhausting? Your answer probably determines whether you'll like this movie or not. It's a good movie, but it’s not a commercial slam dunk -- mostly because a ninety minute staring contest that never blinks or winks, daring you to empathize with Theron's bitchy Mavis Geary character. If you appreciate the integrity of a film with backbone not kowtowing to Hollywood formulas, you’ll look at it more favorably. But if you don’t particularly enjoy a film that uncomfortably stares you down (even if it’s Charlize Theron doing the eyeballing) while you cross your heart and pray for escapism, then you’ll probably file a complaint and/or deduct some points on Rotten Tomatoes.
While you're doing that, here are our grades on the five main young adults in “Young Adult”:
Steve Buscemi and Olivia Wilde are in talks to join Steve Carrell's Vegas magician movie Burt Wonderstone. Carrell plays an illusionist who breaks off with his old partner to go solo, only to be upstaged by Jim Carrey's hipper street magician; Buscemi would play the old partner, and Wilde would play Carrell's love interest, who works as Carrey's assistant. As this movie continues to land big names, it's clear it'll be a great thing for the general practice of magic: This is going to be the most high-profile screen time magic has gotten since that super sad Jawdroppers infomercial. Grade: B+
Justin Timberlake will star in Spinning Gold, a biopic on record producer Neil Bogart, who ran Casablanca Records in the 1970s and had a hand in the careers of KISS, Parliament, Donna Summer, and the Village People. So JT, former beloved pop star, is now making a movie about music that will in no way feature him singing or performing? Okay, now he’s just messing with us. Grade: B- [Deadline]
Real Hollywood screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence) is writing a screenplay called Tabloid both based on an idea from Mick Jagger and being developed as a potential starring vehicle for Mick Jagger. The movie revolves around a shady global media mogul and the young journalist who gets sucked into his world. This is not going to make Keith Richards happy. Grade: C+ [Deadline]