Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Last Kiss

Going into this week I had every intention of seeing Brian DePalma's "The Black Dahlia." As late as yesterday morning, I still had my mind set on that plan.

So what happened? I started reading the reactions of people who had already seen it, which I love to do. And almost everything I read, from fans rather than critics, said this was just a stinker, and I didn't think I could take that.

So I punted on making the decision myself and did something I should do more often; I called my neighbor and asked her if she wanted to go see a movie Sunday afternoon. On the other end of the line there was a long a pause (never the reaction you're looking for), and then she said "yes, but I get to choose the movie.

Ha. I decided not to reveal that that was just what I wanted, and just let her decide. It came down to "I don't wanna see any football movie with a professional wrestler in it" and "I want to see that Zach Braff movie." "The Black Dahlia" never even entered the conversation, which was fine with me.

I kind of wanted to see "that Zach Braff movie" too, so that was that. I like Zach Braff. "Garden State" was great and "Scrubs" is even better (note to TV programmers: the packaging of two back-to-back "Scrubs" episodes, when it is on at all, is brilliant; keep it up.)

I know he annoys a lot of people. At times he can look so smug that you just want to smack him, and at others he just looks chronically constipated. But I find him funny, and that's enough for me.

In "The Last Kiss" he plays a character much less likable than he was in "Garden State" or "Scrubs." Basically, he's a heel, but not the cartoon heel you find in most movies. He's just a dude who, when told by his girlfriend of three years (Jacinda Barrett) that she is pregnant, makes the worst possible decision. Well, actually, several of them, and I'm not giving much away by saying it doesn't go smoothly.

It's definitely not a romantic comedy, but as a story about two people trying to make a difficult relationship work, it worked for me. I actually wanted them to work it out, whereas in this summer's other romantic downer, "The Breakup," I just wanted to kill the two leads and put them out of their (and my) misery.

Barrett is very good as the other half of this couple in crisis. About 15 minutes into the movie, my companion elbowed me in the gut fairly hard and whispered "that's the chick from "The Real World." It took me a while to place her, but she was indeed the wannabe actress Jacinda, I believe from the London series. Well, she's a pretty good one in this flick, and I expect big things from her in the future.

Rachel Bilson from "The OC" is the requisite other woman, who hits on Braff at a wedding and leads him, very willingly, astray. She's suitably seductive, and I liked her very much in the scene at his office where she finds out exactly what she's gotten herself into.

As we were walking out of the movie, I asked my friend what she thought. Her first response: "What an asshole." Staying quiet to make sure she wasn't talking about me, I waited until she followed that with "I liked the movie quite a bit, but if Braff keeps this up he's gonna turn into Woody Allen, and that would just be gross."

Well put. So we both liked the movie, and agreed that Braff does well playing the heel. He's no Woody Allen, in either the good or bad sense, but I like him, and this flick, nonetheless.

21 comments:

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Vasta said...

I quite liked the film, but I'm a bit of a Braff fanatic. The soundtrack is phenomenal.

Invisible Lizard said...

You did the right thing, brother. Dahlia was a well-crafted, good looking pile of best intentioned crap.

Reel Fanatic said...

Glad to hear I didn't miss anything, Lizard ... I love Ellroy's true-crime novel, so I just couldn't bring myself to watch the movie if it was indeed just going to stink

mary_m said...

Thanks for the comment - and glad I could help you dodge the Dahlia bullet.

Great blog! Will be adding a link to it directly.

Linda said...

I am a fanatic about watching a film to the bitter end, no matter how bad, and I have to say, Black Dahlia is one of the few times I have considered walking out. Awful, and so unfortunate, because of all the talent involved. Oh well, they can't all be great. Thanks for the comments on Last Kiss, it's next on my list!

cinefille said...

Did you ever see the Italian movie this was based on ("L'ultimo bacio")? (If you haven't, it's worth seeing.) I'm interested in seeing this version just to see which one I like better.

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't cinefille, but I'm planning to add it to my Netflix queue ... I also just added "The Best of Youth" on my father's recommendation .. it's apparently a six-hour Italian flick that plays out like a miniseries, and I'm really looking forward to it

Emma said...

Yeah, Braff's a good kid... might check this out just for him.

cinefille said...

"The Best of Youth" is wonderful. Even though it's six hours, it's a beautiful story and it really moves along. I really liked it.

carrie_lofty said...

Reel went on a date.... Probably a good film to go see on a date because, from what you described of Braff's character, you're bound to seem a better catch :)

Reel Fanatic said...

It is a good date movie in that sense, Salome .. unless of course you've done something fairly despicable yourself!

Vasta said...

L'Ultimo Bacio was really good, but I feel I liked The Last Kiss better, but that could be because I could relate to the themes a lot better because of the language, geographic, and social context.

Reel Fanatic said...

I should be getting the Italian version in the mail by this weekend, Vasta, so I'll let you know what I think

madaboutmovies said...

I'm going to sit through the pile of "well-crafted, good looking pile of best intentioned crap" tonight and "The Last Kiss" tomorrow. I'm starting to think that maybe I'll just skip Dhalia...

themarina
madaboutmovies.net

mellowlee said...

I've read a few less than favourable reviews of Black Dahlia too. I'm heart broken. I think I will wait til next year to watch it

Jake Mabe said...

Reel Fanatic: I got out of work early on Friday and headed to the multiplex with the intention of screening "Black Dahlia."

The guy at the ticket window talked me out of it, if you can believe that, so I took in "Last Kiss."

Was glad I did. Liked Braff better in "Garden State," but thought this was very well scripted, if only Jenna had been given more screen time. Paul Haggis is becoming my favorite screenwriter.

I have "L'ultimo bacio" on the way from Netflix and looks like I'll have to get "The Best of Youth" at some point based on the discussion here.

Great blog, man. Thanks for making your way over to my Musings. It is appreciated.

Sadie Lou said...

Thanks for the warning on The Black Dahlia. I heard it was a let down as well and haven't seen it. I think I want to see the Martin Scorsese film, The Departed. I'm a big Leo fan and maybe this will be Scorsese's big Oscar win since he always gets shafted?

Reel Fanatic said...

Things are definitely looking up for "The Departed" Sadie ... with Scorsese starting with such great source material, I don't know how it could go wrong, but a few short months ago I was saying that about "The Black Dahlia" ... here's hoping Marty gets its right!

Chris said...

Liked the Last Kiss, too; saw it on my last day of my Canada-holiday. Well-written, well-acted, and the soundtrack is ace. I think this one will battle out the No-1-spot with Little Miss Sunshine at the end of the year... unless there's another smasher in the next three months!

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