Tag Archives: Emma Watson

‘The Bling Ring’ Fails To Sparkle

I’d be lying if I said that Emma Watson wasn’t a huge factor in my decision to see The Bling Ring. Aside from her badass cameo in This Is The End, she had been conspicuously absent in my summer movie picks. Unfortunately, Sofia Coppola‘s latest production suggests Watson’s absence would have been preferable.

The stars of ‘The Bling Ring’. (via Business Insider)

For those of you who have not heard of The Bling Ring, it is about a group of pretty, rich people who rob slightly prettier, richer  people. That’s it. Sure, it’s stylish enough. Designer labels and trendy hip hop abound. But substance is elusive. There’s no commentary on morality or ethics, no case for viewer sympathy. Furthermore, the film does nothing to combat the standard mediocre portrayals of teens in media.

The characters are based on real people, but they function solely as vapid, reckless stereotypes. Their possible motivations for burglarizing–i.e. unstable home lives, personal insecurity, lack of self-esteem–are hinted at but not sufficiently explored. Meanwhile, their interactions never leave the range of “It was totally chill” and “Quit being a little bitch.” The Bling Ring is the type of movie that makes you feel sorry for those who took part in it.

Which brings me back to Emma Watson. Over the years, I’ve seen enough interviews and featurettes to attest to her intelligence and poise. While I’m reluctant to pigeonhole her as Hermione Granger, it was that role that convinced me she is capable of portraying characters with integrity and emotional depth. Needless to say, watching her apply lip gloss and talk about outfits (in a phony American accent) was disappointing. If she, as well as her young costars, had been given more opportunity to deviate from the shallow teen cliché, perhaps The Bling Ring would have been palatable.

As it stands, The Bling Ring is a forgettable film whose relative pointlessness is, in fact, the point. Viewers feel empty after watching it because the actions of those onscreen were empty. I’ve accepted that now. Kudos to Coppola for having me search for meaning where there is none.

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Starting Summer With ‘The End’

This Is The End

Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel take the world’s worst trip to a convenience store.

I have a weakness for bro humor. I wish I could say this developed recently due to exposure to high school boys. The truth is that my appreciation for boorishness goes back long before my teaching stint. It’s only when I see movies like This Is The End that I realize just how lowbrow I am.

The premise is simple: Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel head over to James Franco’s housewarming party. While there, the end of the world begins. Safe in the confines of the fortress-like estate, the two friends band together with fellow survivors James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride.

SPOILERS

As expected, This Is The End takes full advantage of its R rating. People get impaled, crushed, and eaten. Survivors spend time getting high, roughhousing, and making cracks about their bodily fluids. Of course there are some line-crossing moments in this cavalcade of crudeness (rape jokes being the most distasteful example). Yet, for me, there were enough instances of badassery, bromance, and buffoonery to compensate for the parts that weren’t so agreeable.

These fellas get what’s coming to them in ‘This Is The End’.

First of all, Emma Watson makes a cameo that will cause any Harry Potter fan and/or feminist to cheer. There’s also a fantastic rap soundtrack, an appearance from a beloved boy band, a mock trailer for Pineapple Express 2, and copious pop culture references (especially about the actors’ own failures). In addition to all of that, This Is The End incorporates a surprising amount of heart. I went into the theater expecting nothing more than mindless humor; I came out actually caring about the characters’ friendships and fates.

What I arguably enjoyed most about This Is The End — aside from the aforementioned highlights–was its unique approach to the dystopian/apocalyptic genre. By executing the film as a comedy and by having the actors portray themselves, Goldberg and Rogen effectively buck conventions. When the box office is saturated with hackneyed dramas and thrillers, it’s refreshing to come across a film that’s willing to make fun of itself and its competition with equal gusto.

 

 

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