Three mainstream movies this weekend, three different sets of previews. This one was short, as one of the Somerville Theatre's many charming qualities - such as evening tickets that cost less than the downtown theater's matinee price, full service ice cream, and hosting great film festivals - is not front-loading films too severely with a huge ad package, so the movie's running time actually provides a decent guideline for when you'll get out. So just two:
Source Code - I'm signed up just based on Duncan Jones directing science fiction again, as I am quite fond of Moon, to understate the case a bit. I like Jake Gyllenhaal. And I love Michelle Monaghan. Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright are not exactly negatives. The preview looks just about as spiffy as I'd hope.
Still, I'm not sure why they called it "Source Code". That term has a specific meaning to us folks who program computers for fun and profit, and it's not what you guys seem to think it means!
Black Swan - I'm glad I live in a big-ish city, because it doesn't look like anything else is getting a wide release this Friday, and ComingSoon.net is only showing it as "limited" (but those limits include Boston). I almost feel like I know too much just from seeing the preview, although it doesn't seem to give that much away.
A couple notes: Because people have yelled "bias!" for much smaller omissions (and that's leaving out the accusations that aren't completely imaginary), I'll mention here that my day job involves me doing work for drug companies, albeit with at least two levels of intermediaries so that they don't have to deal with me directly - this, I suspect, is good for everybody involved. Plus, the medical data I work with doesn't tend to involve antidepressants or vasodilators. All I'm saying is that just because certain characters are specified as working for Lilly or Pfizer, I'm not going to look on them favorably because they hire my employers or unfavorably because they may or may not be among the folks whose requests drive me bananas.
... and, before getting to the review, it's kind of amusing that when I came out of the screening, I planned on spending a little more time on how eminently screen-cap-able the eventual Blu-ray will be for fans of Ms. Hathaway (and Mr. Gyllenhaal, to a lesser extent), which was kind of surprising considering the genre and presumed audience - honestly, if this underperforms, I wonder if it will be because people don't realize the teasing cuts of the trailer don't represent how much skin you get to see in the movie. But then I went to a couple of French films the next day, and The Joy of Singing made me reconsider what I consider an unusual amount of casual nudity is for a comedy.
Love and Other Drugs
* * * (out of four)
Seen 27 November 2010 at Somerville Theatre #2 (first-run)
Edward Zwick could have made an issue movie out of Love and Other Drugs; he and his co-writers have taken a story that focuses on one unsavory corner of the medical/pharmaceutical industry and elaborated on it so that it touches several others. Instead, he puts the focus on the love story, which is perfectly fine: It's akin to putting a few milligrams of medicine in a candy shell, and this turns out to be pretty good candy.
Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) comes from a family of doctors, but while he washed out of college and is selling stereos as the movie starts - before getting fired due to his horndog antics - his brother Josh (Josh Gad) puts him onto another line of work, being Pfizer's point man for getting doctors to prescribe their drugs rather than those of the competition (or, perish the thought, generics). While making the rounds with Stan Knight (Hank Azaria), a doctor who influences a great deal of the region, he meets Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway), a pretty artist/waitress with early-onset Parkinson's Disease. She has no desire for commitment because she knows it will eventually end badly, and he's the type of slimeball that steals competing companies' samples when the doctors aren't looking. Perfect match, until they surprise each other by finding there's more than their respective libidos involved.
There's something kind of impressive about how Zwick and company split the difference between the currently-popular raunchy romantic comedy and the traditional model early on in the movie. It's not leeringly sleazy, but I suspect that a few eyebrows will be raised when the film doesn't have the same cuts as its green-band trailer. In some ways, maybe there should have been a little more of a creep factor to their meet-cute (Maggie disrobes in front of Jamie thinking he's a doctor, but is still open to hooking up later, and there's also implications that she's traded on her sexuality with more members of the medical and pharma community than just Jamie); then again, that's not necessarily something you want to have hanging over the couple as the movie goes on. At any rate, not being shy about the sex early on is certainly one way of making sure that the audience understands the initial basis for the relationship.
Full review at EFC.