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The movie Joy, the new sorta, kinda, maybe bio-pic of Joy Magano, inventor of the Miracle Mop, starts out with text on the screen: “Inspired by the true stories of daring women. One in particular”.
I don’t know. Somehow on seeing those words up there in front of me, there was something so…condescending and patronizing about it all. It’s as if the filmmakers David O. Russell (who wrote the screenplay and directed) and Annie Mumolo (who worked on Bridesmaids and gets co-story credit here) were doing women a favor by making the movie at all and that somehow women should be thankful that someone actually created a film that instructs them how they should be leading their lives, since, being women, apparently, they don’t really know how to be daring and independent themselves.
I’m sure I’m overreacting and I’m sure few others felt the same way, but there was just something about it that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Once this intro was over, we then spend the first third of the movie with Joy being victimized by her family (both extended and not) as it falls to her to take care of everyone else’s problems while she puts hers on hold.Continue reading →
First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
Focus, the new film written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, comes from a genre with a proud heritage: the rom con game. It’s a genre that was extremely popular in the greatest period in film for romantic comedies, the 30’s, with such movies as Trouble in Paradise and Desire. But it has always had an endearing quality, as in such films as It Takes A Thief, The Pink Panther, The Thomas Crown Affair, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and more recently, Duplicity.
And this latest entry does have some of the qualities of these other films that ingratiate them so much to us: a cool and suave leading man; even cooler cons; and more than a touch of wit.
In addition, there is one marvelous scene of grifting involving an Asian businessman who loves to gamble and who finds himself going nose to nose with the movie’s hero on a series of more and more outrageous bets. You know what’s coming, though when it does, you’re not sure how it could possibly have been pulled it off. And then when it is explained, you marvel at the audacity and chance taking of it.
But this scene also works for reasons that much of the movie doesn’t. In the end, though there are some nice moments here, Focus never really quite rises to the level of many of these other films. Continue reading →