hotter than a hot tub

Ain't that the truth! And I was starting to miss writing about the extreme winter weather. Good thing we have extreme summer weather, too! To properly navigate the New England summer, you can't just check the thermostat before you head out the door. The reality of the digits you see is a complex relationship between temperature, humidity, dew point, and wind (probably pressure, too, but I'm not sure how that one factors in). The temperature doesn't have to be all that hot for "oppressive" conditions as long as the humidity is high and the dew point is above 70 degrees. I'm not exactly sure how it all works but it explains why it's 88 degrees out right now but feels like 99...and it's 9 o'clock in the evening.

Anyway, I thought I'd take a break from blogging about So You Think You Can Dance, realizing that perhaps there are a couple of readers out there not watching the series (and you are lame and should be ashamed of yourselves), and catch y'all up on my summer film festival. I haven't made much progress, and by the time I get around to watching a movie from my list, I've already added a few more. But in the last few weeks I've seen four films that I think all qualify.

After "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" I watched "Next Stop Wonderland," not only for the transitional story told from a woman's point of view but it's also based here in Boston. I like Hope Davis (also, interestingly enough, in "Proof," which I watched about a month earlier) a lot. Did you know she was in "Flatliners"? Anyway, I enjoyed the story although I found parts of it to be distractingly dated. After a year in Boston I was able to recognize a few things here and there. I haven't been to Eastie yet but I have been to the aquarium, where much of the story takes place, and I swear the exterior apartment shots were filmed on that little side-street section of Mass Ave. in the South End. Any locals have the scoop? There were a couple of details and story developments that bugged me. Firstly, Davis' character Erin should have gone to Brazil with that guy she met. I know it's crazy, but a.) it's just a movie and b.) it would have added a nice travel element to the story, making it a near-perfect match for my film festival requirements. Secondly, the way she and Alan finally meet, with her awkwardly resting her head on his shoulder in the packed Blue Line subway car, and then getting off the train together and going for a walk, I found totally unbelievable. I know I just said it's just a movie but we can't forget it's set in Boston. I have a hard time believing anyone would let a stranger rest their head on their shoulder for more than a second or two. And it wasn't even really his shoulder, more like his chest, his right pectoral to be precise. It was just a little creepy for me.

I also watched "Bring It On" for about the gazillionth time. I'm not sure if it counts...I just like it a lot ("Missy's the poo. Take a big whiff.").

Next came "Shopgirl," recommended by a co-worker. I went into it expecting more of the retail experience dramatized (the way she stands at the glove case at Saks is exactly how I stand at the pen case at the store!) not thinking it might qualify for my film festival, but in the end, I appreciated it a lot more for Mirabelle's story outside the store. The actors were all good (Jason Schwartzman is so great), the screenplay was quirky, the SoCal apartment totally believable, and the cinematography luscious. The only thing that bugged me was Steve Martin's narration. And her new job, toward the end of the film, at the front desk of an art gallery, is only a small step up from retail clerk.

Most recently I watched "Real Women Have Curves," another recommendation from my friend Mer, who recommended "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants," which also co-stars America Ferrera, the lead in RWHC. The first line of the plot summary on IMDB says it all: "This is the story of Ana, a first generation Mexican-American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman." I realized that a lot of these coming-of-age-from-a-female-perspective stories have an immigrant element to them. Like Amy Tan books (add "Joy Luck Club" to the list...see what I mean?). And I appreciated the way the film, while it focused on Ana's story, incorporated women's stories from many different age groups. I enjoyed it overall, but ultimately, it's not at the top of my film bibliography.


Chrissa said...

I've seen Next Stop about a million times, and have made a sport of trying to figure out the various locations. I'm sure you're right about the apartment, though I haven't figured out exactly which street it is yet. The Burren (the pub where she meets "the suitors") is in Davis Square, and the guy who plays the bartender is actually a local actor who has a little theater over there. I saw him on the street recently and it was very surreal.

I love a lot of things about the movie, but am totally with you about the bizarre head-on-chest ending. The Alan character's chest in general is creepy and distracting - those monster pecs! And while the style of the movie's filming is quite arty, after several (or a million) viewings, the dialogue and situations start to feel more like a sitcom or an after-school special - really broad and cheesy.

Have you considered "The World of Henry Orient" as part of your summer film fest? It can be a little slow, but is still a great vintage preteens-on-the-verge in 1960s New York movie.

Becky G. said...

Thanks for the inside scoop - I had no idea any of it was filmed across the Charles. And thanks for the recommendation, too. I'll add it to my queue!