Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Grosse Pointe Blank
Directed by George Armitage
Written by Tom Jankiewicz, D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink & John Cusack
(number 439)

I remember seeing this movie pretty soon after it came out, I don’t remember if I saw it in the cinemas or on video but it’s always in my mind intrinsically linked to The Big Hit, which I certainly did see at the cinema. It’s such an artifact of the late nineties, from the flashback soundtrack to the fashion to the stars of the movie. John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Jeremy Piven and Dan Ackroyd. It’s pretty sweet to watch, if grainy and a little cringey. Anna had never seen it and was a bit suspicious of it being a romantic comedy/black comedy but she did laugh during it at various points.

I am tempted to try and track down the soundtrack. I really like the start of this movie but at some point it lost my interest. I think it’s actually when the reunion starts and things start falling apart, which generally should be interesting but I just kind of… ehhh. To be fair though, there was a thread on facebook I felt I had to contribute to so it was pretty distracting.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah it does, John Cusack is cute, suave and stylish (again, it’s the American Psycho template, but this time he’s a lost soul, paving the way for the Garden State breed of sad white men). It’s very hard not to be on his side, because he’s just so charismatic. Debi is an interesting character because she is pretty much the love interest, but she’s a sassy soul who doesn’t just fall in line meekly with Martin’s plans to rekindle the flame.

That said, Debi is shown to be ‘better than’, the other women in the movie. She is idolised, the ultimate girl that Martin left behind and who hasn’t exactly been waiting around for him but she is conveniently single when he arrives. She’s sarcastic, bitter and snarky, as well as playful and funny but she does still let Martin back in, and fulfills the proper love interest role. Ultimately this movie is about embracing the American dream of marrying the highschool sweetheart, settling down and having babies. So… meh.

Marcella is pretty fun as Martin’s receptionist/P.A, she’s funny and concerned.

Bechdel test: Sadly no. Marcella is shown on the phone to women she uses the names of but it’s only her side of things. Debi is in a conversation with a couple of the women in the reunion, but Martin is always there too and whatever the other women say it is generally treated as pathetic/ridiculous usually followed by Debi turning to Martin and saying ‘let’s get out of here’ or ‘let’s go somewhere else’. So, she still talks to him rather than to women. It also emphasises the ‘cool girl’ persona she has where she’s categorically better than the other women portrayed because she’s not like them.

Best line:
Dr. Oatman: Don’t kill anybody for a few days. See what it feels like.
Martin Q. Blank: Alright, I’ll give it a shot.
Dr. Oatman: No, don’t give it a shot! Don’t shoot anything!

State of Mind: It’s a cute enough movie, very much a child of it’s time. Not sure what it’s doing on the 500 list as I don’t feel like it’s particularly seminal or game changing in terms of genre, but… eh. It was a nice watch for a Saturday morning.

Watched movie count

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
(number 433)

I have seen this movie once before and I think it was a very long time ago. I couldn’t remember much beyond what was parodied in Community.

I have a massive soft spot for these soft focus movies about fancy colleges/schools and the clean and tidy people who go to them. However this one is a weird examination of class and how important it is to subscribe to this idea that smart people are better and deserve to be more successful than the plain ordinary blue collar workers. It’s a little uncomfortable… especially when they’re talking about the honour in doing jobs like fixing cars and cleaning the university. It’s uncomfortable for me because to buy that point of view you have to think that some people are just better and more deserving than others, that the ones who are more deserving are smarter (by that I mean, academically smarter, because that’s what this movie is about), and I just don’t think that’s true. I don’t think being able to solve a mathematical equation makes you a better person.

Besides that there’s also the incredible whiteness of the movie. Which, you know, its not surprising but it’s uncomfortable when the whole ‘better and more deserving’ comes into it.

Matt’s Boston accent is come and go, we hear it on ‘a’s and not at any other time. He does well though, at playing this intelligent kid with insecurities. He’s eclipsed by Robin Williams as a broken psychology teacher/therapist. He has this beautiful line where he says “I know who I am, and I’m proud of what I do. It was a conscious choice, I didn’t fuck up! And you and your cronies think I’m some sort of pity case.” I really like that bit because it calls out one of the big issues I have with the movie, that you have to be in the accepted academic life to be a good person or successful or whatever.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah, this whole movie is about making you love everyone, especially Will and Sean. When they start to really connect it’s genuinely heartwarming, you are rooting for these characters and for them to overcome their personal demons which are stopping them making choices that may benefit them.

I have been complaining about the movie, but I do genuinely like it. It’s like easy listening music, you can put it on and watch or half watch and it’s just kind of relaxing and nice. It makes me want to watch School Ties and Dead Poet’s Society and maybe a Beautiful Mind as well.

Bechdel test: No, we have Skylar and another woman student called Cathy but they never speak. There’s an awful lot of men talking about women, Will about Skylar, Sean about his dead wife. But this is a very much male dominated movie.

Best line:
Sean: I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.

State of Mind: Way more Meeeeeehhhhh than I expected. Anna enjoyed it, though, and it is just a really good solid movie.

Watched movie count