Movies: The Lovers, War Machine and the Wedding Plan

 

The Lovers

The Lovers, starring Debra Winger (Mary) and Tracy Letts (Michael) isn’t going to appeal to the same demo as Guardians of the Galaxy but should find an audience of Baby Boomers.   It is a smart, well-paced view into a marriage past its prime.  Winger and Letts play a couple that go about their daily routine by rote, communicating as little as possible.  They are calm, they don’t argue but they also, don’t connect.  Quickly it becomes apparent that to escape this existence, each has taken up a lover and two new characters enter the fray.  There is Michael’s lover, a crazy dance instructor who constantly pressures him through histrionics to leave his wife for her and a much more placid and sensitive man (Aidan Gillen or Littlefinger for many of us!) who is Mary’s erstwhile lover.

It all comes to a head as Mary’s and Michael’s lovers continually try to force their partners to end their respective marriages.   The resultant tension created causes Michael and Mary to start backing away only to find a new sexual attraction between them.   They start cheating on their respective lovers which strained the bounds of credibility based on what had happened up to that point in their relationship but it was fun.  Intertwined through all of this is the arrival of their son and his girlfriend creating a catalyst for these relationships to implode.  Humor is interspersed with pain throughout the film but the honesty and realness of these characters is never challenged.  You will never think that you are watching an unreal slice of life despite an ending that is a bit of a stretch.

It is great to see Debra Winger on screen again as she reminds us what we have been missing.  Have fun with this movie. 

War Machine

This wartime satire starring Brad Pitt premiered on Netflix last week.  Pitt’s performance as the embattled General Glen McMahon (based on Gen. Stanley McChrystal) is completely over the top but does that make it more impactful or reduce its effectiveness?  The critics are mixed on this.  At any rate, it is hard not to have some sympathy for this General who was brought in to command the Afghanistan forces in 2009/2010.  He had his own ideas and personality and perhaps made some progress in trying to work through a very murky strategy.  Of course, it doesn’t help his legacy that his successor, General Patraeus was much more successful.

McChrystal was undone by a Rolling Stone writer, the late Michael Hastings, who was embedded for a while and wrote a scathing article resulting in the President firing the General.  The movie is based on Hasting’s book “The Operators”.  The film explores the General, his relationships with subordinates and his belief in his own ability to win the war even while everything falls apart around him.  The supporting cast is excellent from Ben Kingsley as President Hamid Karzai to Meg Tilly as McMahon’s long suffering wife.  They are all very good.

I did not particularly care for the movie.  It was no Mash.  Pitt’s acting choices in playing the General might be brilliant but the characterization grated on me.  It wasn’t the worst film I have ever seen by a long shot, and it was free on Netflix so I didn’t have to waste money on it, but the subject matter is tough and the writing not particularly compelling.  Nonetheless, war is hell and this film portrays that theme throughout.  There is no reason not to check out the movie but feel free to abandon it along the way.  That is one of the great benefits of Netflix!

The Wedding Plan

I was looking for more from this film which was rated 87% on Rotten Tomatoes.  I could not stay awake during the first hour.  I’m usually pretty good with subtitles but in this case, the lead has most of the dialogue, a melodic voice speaking Hebrew and the subtitles were positioned such that I got tired of reading them.  At any rate, it is the story about a young orthodox Jewish woman, Michal, who is jilted by her fiancé 30 days before their wedding.  She decides that come hell or high water, she will find a man to marry on the original date because life would clearly not be worth living were she to remain single at age 32.

The film is advertised as a romantic comedy/drama and is clearly more heavily weighted toward the drama.  The comedy was not very prevalent. Michal solicits help from a couple of matchmakers to help her quickly find a husband but I must admit, all the candidates looked and acted the same to me.  The only interesting male was a touring musician named Yos played by an Israeli pop star Oz Zehavi.  He had charisma and their relationship had some depth.  Other than that, it was all somewhat bewildering and I don’t think it is because it is hard for me to relate to the character’s need to be married which of course it was.

All and all, I was disappointed by this film.  Feel free to skip this one.