Tag Archives: Sex

“TRAINWRECK” Review (✫✫✫1/2)

Trainwreck-Amy-Schumer-and-Bill-Hader 2

Not as much of one as you thought.

I wonder how many women will look at Amy Townsend in Trainwreck and relate to her from personal experience. If any of them do, I question how they are still breathing, or speaking in coherent sentences. Amy is the opitamy of a disaster in this movie. She’s a woman who drinks a lot, smokes a lot, lies a lot, and has sex a lot, with way too many sexual partners for comfort. If this woman was an airship, she’d be the Hindenburg.

There’s only one person to blame for Amy’s behavior besides herself: her father Gordon (Colin Quinn), who humorously compares sexual partners to toy dolls while explaining to Amy and her sister Kim (Brie Larson) why he’s getting divorced with their mother. He tells them to repeat after him as if he’s conducting an orchestra: “Monogamy isn’t realistic! Monogamy isn’t realistic!”

Twenty years later, Amy is practicing her father’s advice. Our first glimpse at seeing Amy Schumer as the character involves her making out with a man and taking her clothes off, only to see him take his pants off and realize she’s taking on too much for her own good. This isn’t Amy’s first rodeo. She’ll hit-it-and-quit-it with guys like she’s skeet-shooting clay at a shooting range, and she’s an expert marksman. Once she’s had her fill, she dumps them quicker than Sunday’s recycling. Her excuses after being asked out: “Oh, I’m sorry, but I have plans!”, “Sorry, but I don’t think you’re my type.”, and “Sorry, but I’m not really into that.” That last one is true.

Suddenly, she meets this one guy that seems completely different. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader) is a sports doctor who tends to players such as LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire. Amy gets assigned by her magezine to write a profile on Conners, but she ends up taking Conners home instead. But when she does, she also does something she never does with another guy: she stays the night. Now questioning her own lifestyle and what she really wants, Amy decides whether or not she wants to remain a trainwreck for the rest of her life.

I’ll start with the best thing about this movie: Amy. No, not the character, the actor. Amy Schumer not only portrays the lead role in the film: she wrote her. Schumer is credited for the film’s concept just as much as she is for the film’s character. In a way, I think she wrote this film for herself. The script is written with an honesty and integrity that is rare with most of Hollywood’s screenplays, but with a humor and lightheartedness to it that is equally as rare and refreshing. I asked a friend of mine what the movie was about before going in to see it. Was it a love story? Was it a cautionary tale about substance and alcohol abuse? Was it about the struggle of being a middle-aged woman in America?

My friends response was “Yes.”

Oh, don’t get me wrong. The movie is incredibly profane and inappropriate. It deserves it’s R rating in every sense and fashion of the word. F words fly out as frequently as oxygen does. Drug use and excessive drinking follows Amy everywhere like a bad, never-ending hangover. Cleavage is the movie’s guilty pleasure. Sex, even more so.

If this were any other movie, I would knock off points for this movie’s unabashedly loose image and dirty humor. I do the same thing with excessive, over-the-top action and unnecessary violence. Yet, I raved about Mad Max: Fury Road a few months ago for the very things I usually hate in films. Here is another movie subverting my expectations and surprising me in ways that I wasn’t expecting.

How exactly does it do that? Well, the language is bad, definitely, but it’s honest. It’s reflective of this day and age’s mentality, and the clever and genuine dialogue shows that the script is smart enough to substantiate the bad language. The drugs and alcohol usually imply a bad mentality, but does it really when it shows us how much of a toll it takes on its main character? Other movies use drugs and alcohol for offensively comedic effect: this one uses it to show another side to it that is less funny. And the sexual content, while inappropriate, also has something important to say about human relationships. I.e. what would you rather have: multiple temporary romances, or one lasting affection?

This is what is so special about this movie: it pretends to be dumber than it actually is. It disguises itself as a stupid and obnoxious comedy, like The Change-Up or The Hangover, but then you watch it and you see the many truths that it carries with it. It’s not only funny and entertaining to watch: it’s also morally and emotionally binding. To me, that’s the most important kind of entertainment out there: the kind that leaves an impact.

This is, of course, a romantic comedy. What’s all in romantic comedies? Cheesy endings, that’s what. And just like all romantic comedies, this movie is just as guilty for having one as well. But the movie itself is not cheesy, and it’s main star carries the weight of the film well all by herself with both heart and humor. Trainwreck is a good title for this movie. Beautiful disaster would be another.

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Sex, murder, and the decrease of the human condition.  

American Psycho is a vile, sickening experience, a gruesome and aching film incapable of human thought, feeling, comfort, or emotion.  This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the book in which it is based on inspired this same controversy.  Regardless, its achievement cannot be denied: the filmmakers have somehow concocted an experience as brutal, uncomfortable, disturbing, half-lapsed, misogynic, and morally reprehensible as this that they’ve come to completely disconnect with their audience.  I rarely feel this upset about a movie like this.

American Psycho follows the story of Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a successful businessman who works in his high-level office by day and parties fiendishly with his friends by night.  On the surface, Bateman looks like a normal upper-class bachelor.  He eats out at expensive restaurants, drinks exquisite martinis, has sex with beautiful women, enjoys swearing gleefully with his friends, and listens to a variety of experimental music.  In appearance, Bateman is the visible representation of the upper class: stoic, upright, eloquent, fashionable, and spoiled.

As the plot progresses, however, we come to understand more about the darker side of Bateman’s personality.  He doesn’t just have sex with beautiful women: he mutilates them.  He tortures them and fantasizes about killing them in horrible ways and playing with their bodies after he’s done dismembering them.  His kitchen pantry contains axes, blades, and tools he uses for his killings.  He draws his victims in a notebook he leaves at work.  A female head sits next to his ice cream in the freezer.  If there wasn’t wine in his alcohol bottles, it would probably be blood.

Ugh.  Just talking about the premise nauseates me.  Why do we need to experience this?  Bateman is a sickening character, a man who would dismember the head of one unfortunate female and chew off the genitals of another.  Why?  For what purpose?  His motivations are never explained in the movie and his reasonings for murdering women are a mystery to us.  Is there a reason for this?  Is there a reason for being so non-inclusive with your audience? Why must everything be shrouded in secrecy?

This is the film’s biggest problem, besides the violence and the sexuality: Patrick Bateman is a deplorable character, difficult to understand and impossible to sympathize with.  You might think its impossible to sympathize with a murderer of women anyway, but it isn’t really.  We’ve ben asked to sympathize with deplorable characters before, including a psychotic war veteran in Taxi Driver to ruthless murderers and drug dealers in Goodfellas.  Sympathy and interest worked with those characters because one character was struggling to find a line of morality and righteousness to follow, and another was hesitant and even regretful over the actions that he’s done.

Bateman doesn’t regret his decisions nor chooses to change them.  He kills instinctively, almost like he’s trying to prove some territorial point to the people around him.  To put it out there in gruesome, violent fashions like this though is just torturous.  Who wants to sit there, eyes on the screen, watching him laughing as a petite blond girl in front of him cries pleading for her life?

But American Psycho isn’t just sickening, repulsive, and pungnent: the film’s logic is half-lapsed, incomplete, and flawed, incomprehensible to the viewer and extremely frustrating to those trying to figure out.

I’ll give you an example.  There’s one scene where’s Bateman is chasing one of his victims through the hallways of a hotel, half naked, screaming manically, and revving his chainsaw like Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Someone explain to me how no one from the hotel hallway heard the ruckus from outside their rooms, or anyone from the two floors above and beneath him?  Here you have Jack Torrence running through the hallways screaming at the top of his lungs with a lawn mower, and nobody even bothers to call the police.  What?  Are the wooden doors sound-proof?  Who knows, maybe they’re afraid of poking their heads out the door so that they won’t get their heads chopped off.

Due to a revelation revealed later on in the plot, one could argue this is a “dream sequence”, or a “vision” Bateman had.  But how is there any way to know?  With Bateman’s maniacal, wretched mind, dreams feels like reality and reality feels like dreams.  How is there any way to read the subtext when you’ve made your narrative so damn hard to figure out?

And this is a movie that is being hailed as a dark comedy.  A comedy for what, exactly?  The film is two graphic hours of bloody, sickening, gruesome violence and pornography.  When, at any point, is it set up to inspire laughs?  In movies like Pulp Fiction and Fight Club we are at least given subtle moments of clever dialogue to clue us in to the humor, and even though stomach-curling things are happening on screen, we are able to suspend that  briefly in order to enjoy the humor.

American Psycho is not subtle, smart, clever, humorous, or any of the related adjectives.  There’s a point director Mary Harron is trying to express through the film, but that point is convoluted, vague and shockingly illiterate.  As a result, what we’re ultimately watching is an idle, pointless, and misconstrued film, and our reward for watching is hours of punishment, nudity, sexual immorality, blood, torture, macabre violence, and sickening indecency.  To be fairly honest, I probably need a second viewing in order to fully understand the picture, but the plain fact is that the movie doesn’t deserve a second viewing.  If I end the film feeling as punished and as mutilated as Bateman’s unfortunate victims, why on earth would I want to subject myself to that again?

At the end of the film, Bateman himself admits that he finds neither closure nor catharsis for his bloody, violent, sexually immoral and murderous journey.  For that matter, neither do we.

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