[End of June, in reverse]

(500) Days of Summer wants desperately to be quirky. We can see that in the parenthetical in the title plus the fact that Zooey Deschanel’s character is named Summer. It dreams of being Annie Hall with a slice of Amelie, as directed by Wes Anderson.

It fails.

You want to like it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is cute and wears cardigans (but none even approaching the awesomeness of the one Jason Segel* wears in I Love You, Man). Zooey is cute and wears adorable dresses.

They have no chemistry.

My favorite part of the movie** was probably Joseph’s apartment, if only because it has a chalkboard wall in the bedroom. Terribly impractical — I mean, imagine the dust — but the sketched-in headboard *is* charming. More charming than the chewing-gum-ad-like dance sequence.

My least favorite part of the movie was about five minutes in, when the (annoying & intermittent) voiceover informed us that there are two kinds of people in the world: men & women. The rest of the preview audience thought that was hilarious. They also seemed to like the rest of the movie much more than I did. (Oh, and they were very charmed by the trailer for the film where Hugh Dancy plays a dude with Asperger’s, as if Mr Dancy has ever offered evidence that he can actually act.)

So be it.

In much better film news, last week I saw two French films. Wait! Come back! One was a James Bond parody! There were guns and hot chicks!

OSS 117: Lost in Rio was the SIFF volunteer appreciation party film. They don’t tell you the title ahead of time, so it’s a bit like the Secret except you can talk about it afterwards. I was pretty excited (in spite of the fact that I had been in New York that morning & was dead tired) because I quite enjoyed the first one, OSS 117, Cairo: Nest of Spies, and I had missed two screenings of the sequel. They’re totally ridiculous and manage to be offensive to everyone. Which, in my book, is okay. I mean, it’s Bond/spy movie tropes, so they’re going to be offensive anyway. Might as well kick it up a notch.

Lost in Rio is also notable for being, if possible, more gay than Cairo: Nest of Spies. Both are great fun. Jean Dujardin’s smile is money in the bank, and the jokes are always on him.

On the totally opposite end of French cinema was another 69 movie, My Night at Maud’s, which I liked very much, but as it’s a classic I can’t imagine I have anything to add to the conversation. I am sad I could not manage to stay awake long enough for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice afterwards, but it had been a long week. And I am old. Apparently.

* I just looked at the IMDb to make sure I spelled his name right, and one of his in-development titles? Is Untitled Muppet Project omg yay.

** Upon reflection, my favorite part of the movie was really a bit towards the end where a character suggests going for pancakes, and the audience is expected to remember the bit at the beginning where they were having said pancakes, without the benefit of flashback. How sad that that’s rare. Sadder still that no one sitting around me seemed to get it.

[Three totally unrelated films]

* During the festival, a friend came up to Seattle and we went to Sex and the City. I know, I know. But I love the show, I do, and I wanted to know What Happens Next. But to me, it resembled nothing more than really bad fanfiction. Which is sad, because there is really good fanfiction for this show.

* At the festival someone handed out passes to what would turn out to be the first audience screening anywhere of Milk. I’ve never attended a test screening before, just lots of press ones, so that was an interesting experience in itself. I know a lot of folks doubt the casting of Sean Penn, and I did too, mostly because even though I can see that he’s a great actor, I can pretty much only see him as himself. And I must admit that in the film it went back and forth for me; sometimes he was Sean Penn, and sometimes he was Harvey Milk. He got more Milk as it went on, though, and like I said, I think a lot of this is in my head.

I did think that Emile Hirsch, James Franco, and Alison Pill were particularly great, and I will be interested in seeing it again when it comes out in December (!!) to see how it compares to this cut. I read on the IMDb, always a source of accurate information (heh) that they are shooting pick-ups still. So, we’ll see. There were some things I thought were off: the integration of Milk’s audio recordings was a little forced, for example. And there’s a little self-indulgent Van Sant slow motion. But there were also some glorious shots, like some where Milk & White were dwarfed by the magnificent interior of City Hall. I love that sort of thing, where the director doesn’t compromise a big screen vision for the sake of eventual small screen viewing.

But most of all, what I put on the survey afterwards is that it reminded me that it’s all right to still be angry. Probably not what the studio was looking for, but no less true for all that, and particularly notable leading up to this disgusting Seattle Pride weekend where everyone’s supposed to show queer unity or whatever by buying stuff. *spits*

* Finally, last night I trekked up to Shoreline for my last chance to see OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. It was a last minute addition and surprise audience award winner at last year’s film festival, so I had been pretty much dying to see it. It’s a French James Bond parody, and it was worth the wait. Hilarious, with a side of ho!yay. Excellent! Probably would have been even better if my French wasn’t basically non-existent, but the subtitles were good. Hey! They’re shooting a sequel! Awesome. Also, I’d love to get my hands on some of the older OSS movies, even though the IMDb voters appear unimpressed.