of all the roles in twin peaks imagine getting the guy who explains to a courtroom leo johnson’s brain waves on a chart
Lauper was in ROCK N RHYME too, but sadly, she was not also in twin peaks
Ms Matched (2016): The wedding planner subgenre gets increasingly hermetic - in this one, the wedding planner’s love interest is in fact a DIFFERENT wedding planner, who threatens to undercut her business by advocating weddings done on the cheap. I hope this trend continues and that we eventually get romantic comedies where every single character either is or used to be another wedding planner, like the action movies where everyone either knows martial arts or has a shady past with the CIA.
Anyway, the real conflict in this movie is between the plotline mentioned above and the general Hallmark movie policy of avoiding the question of money entirely. At one point a baker (“Cake Kyng”) is referred to as pricing in the “four dollar signs” range, and the word debt comes up exactly once as part of the backstory for how the love interest ended up as such a weddings cynic. But this is as far as it goes, we’re still in a kind of curious situation where having a wedding at a five-star resort in Hawaii can be treated as a realistic option BUT, you know, a bit of a stretch, so any real stakes are difficult to judge.
One good thing is that the insularity of focus does mean we get a more thorough than usual deep-dive into the everyday details of this profession. We see the protagonist (Alexa PenaVega from Spy Kids!) stress about running low on capital, she goes to an industry conference, she appears on a panel and floats about trying to snag clients… One of her arguments against the cheap weddings guy is that he’s attacking not just her livelihood, but also that of the florists, dressmakers, bakers in attendence etc. The movie kind of implies that he’s an ex-financial-services bro, and I think these scenes and his focus on money above romance are partly meant to play on an old opposition in these movies between the Good Capitalism of Main Street and the Bad Capitalism of Wall Street (as tangled as that distinction can be - the dressmaker at one point claims “competition is one thing, but driving people out of business and ruining their livelihoods is another!”) But, like, he’s technically also trying to SAVE people money, and you could imagine a ‘Moneyball’ type of movie being shot from the opposite perspective in which he’s the insightful outsider taking on the entrenched cartels of the Wedding-Industrial Complex.
One weird thing is that the heroine of this movie constantly seems like she’d be the villain in the other, as with the scene where she reacts to a suggested discount wedding by snapping “Why not just get married by Elvis?!” Maybe it is because I am a shiftless milennial currently engaged in destroying the mortgage, diamond and restaurant industries, among others, but I found it weirdly hard to place who the movie was expecting me to root for at any moment.
Being set mostly at an industry conference means we get to see some good minor weirdo characters hanging out. There’s a wedding magician that everyone seems improbably enthused by (“I could watch this stuff all day!”) and a power couple called Bobby D and Bobby G who run a “Bodies By Bobby” workout programme. At one point we also glimpse a DJ who plays a kind of public domain disco version of the wedding march.
Anyway, the two leads eventually have to team up and the ultimately complementary nature of their apparent differences is demonstrated fairly unconvincingly, it turns out that budget and glamour CAN be combined if only the exact right wedding dress happens to be on sale and also you’re close friends with somebody who owns a yacht. But the couple that they’re organizing the wedding for elope to Fiji and leave the wedding planner with the bill! So the only way she can save her company, and recoup her investment, is… by throwing her own surprise wedding instead, using all the stuff she just bought? Is this a tax write-off or something? The movie ends before any of this can be explained. I guess it’s still implicit that the wedding planner will end the movie as the wedding plannee, we haven’t got to the point yet where they can just vanish into the night while awaiting their next mission.
French Kiss (1995) - Meg Ryan hates the French but must become one. As the movie starts she is boarding a plane to chase down her fiance who absconded in Paris, she finds herself sitting next to a swarthy french criminal (Kevin Kline, ‘Wild Wild West’??). He secretly conceals a tiny plant inside her luggage and she is drawn into a whirlwind european intrigue. The main cultural difference we encounter on touching down in France is that everyone perpetually dresses and acts like it’s a 1970s crime film, there’s lots of soundtracked funk, people yelling at each other on the street, an inexplicable car chase, characters either wear big brown leather jackets or hang around in their vests in shabby rooms. Jean Reno (Onimusha 3) appears as a police official with a heart of gold! At one point Meg Ryan accidentally leads a character to believe she has a piss fetish.
I don’t know if it’s just this movie or the comparatively restrained Hallmark ones I’ve been watching but she seems to play a character as significantly crazed and manic, even for her, there’s lots of abruptly yelling weird monologues at people. It’s possible this is meant to represent an “american abroad” type of character but weirdly the movie plays down that idea in advance by making her an american in the process of aquiring a canadian visa. This combined with a previous felony conviction for smoking weed makes her a “person without a state” in France, although weirdly this didn’t seem to have any plot implications I can remember? Also to modern eyes it’s hard not to think she looks/dresses like a young Ellen DeGeneres and is extremely gay coded, IDK if that as as noticeable when this first came out or not. Maybe if a woman back in the 90s wore her hair shirt and wore a dress shirt and baggy chinos everywhere people would just say “I guess she must be a fan of Meg Ryan”.
Anyway Kevin Kline helps her get revenge on her fiance using his worldly french ways. He’s hoping to use a stolen necklace to buy back his vineyard(?), she secretly delivers it to Jean Reno but then gives him the money out of a “nest egg” she was secretly saving up since college ($45,400!), the last scene of the movie is them both kissing in a vineyard while La Vie En Rose plays. Basically, that’s France!!! C’est la vie!
This movie was directed by Lawrence Kasdan, perhaps best known for writing the screenplay to “Shadows Of The Empire” for N64.
Jean Reno is Hollywood’s only hardboiled Frenchman
Aloha (2015) - Cameron Crowe goes Hawaiian!! I was kind of excited to watch this one since I got the impression, from the name and fact that I hadn’t heard of it before, that it was gonna be… one of those very slight movies directors make when they’re just sort of looking for an excuse to hang out and film in a location they enjoy… I’m trying to think of an example but the closest thing I can come up with is My Life In Ruins (sponsored by the greek tourist board) or maybe Before Midnight. Just a kind of mild, low-key movie, as in, not a movie where Bradley Cooper is a private soldier who must destroy a weapons satellite launched by Bill Murray while dealing with his attraction to two different women and also trying to reconnect with the daughter he didn’t know he had, and who is also at least hinted at being the human incarnation of the Hawaiian deity Lono. But that’s what I got, so this ended up having a surprisingly JRPG feeling to it. Like Chrono Cross the island setting is just to lower your guard against the plot barrage to come.
It seems like the main thing this movie is known for is gratuitously whitewashing the island of Hawaii (which, yes) and also for having a character written as quarter-Chinese, quarter-Hawaiian, and played by… Emma Stone. Which indeed was pretty disconcerting but it was hard to get hung up on feeling like that part of the character didn’t make sense as acted because NOTHING about this or any character makes sense as acted. Emma Stone plays an air force pilot who starts out, like, cartoonishly officious and protocol-obsessed, like a Hot Shots Part Deux version of an uptight career lady. But then within about ten minutes she’s in full-on manic pixie mode and reeling off random factoids about her life and the universe (“tell me you don’t believe in the sky. you think it’s just AIR up there?” “there’s a lot of mana up here…”) while gushing to her mom in easily overheard fashion about how this guy is such a fascinatingly complex character, a wounded coyote, etc. And then the next day he lets her know he overheard by suddenly breaking into screaming wolf howls in the car and then saying “im sad” in a baby voice.
So, I mean, the Bradley Cooper character is at least equally crazed and much given to breaking into a scream at random before stalking around holding his head like it’s gonna explode. At least part of this is presumably because he had his “balloons popped” in Afghanistan. I’m not sure if this means his testicles or is just a very weird reference to Mario Kart. The third main person is Rachel McAdams who is sort of scripted like a sad Raymond Carver wife and played like… the chirpy life-affirming girlfriend in a Cameron Crowe film. I respect weird acting choices but it does suck some of the energy from a romance plot if you can’t tell what any of the characters are feeling or thinking about.
Anyway it turns out Rachel McAdam’s young son accidentally filmed, uh, a major violation of international law when he just happened to see a truck pull up to a big space rocket and attach a nuclear weapon to it. The plot is that by opening up space travel to private corporations, of the kind headed by Bill Murray, we risk weaponising the sky itself. That’s cool and I can get behind it, but why are the heroes fighting against “militarising the sky” the US army and in particular the air force?? It turns out they didn’t know the weapon was gonna be up there, so what was Bill Murray doing with it? Holding the earth hostage? There’s a part where the rocket ship is “hacked by the chinese” so Bradley Cooper has to furiously tap on a work laptop for around 45 seconds to boot them off again. And then he destroys the satellite by sending it “every recorded sound in human history”, which turns out to mean an early MTV adbreak segue of multiple wellknown sound clips (from The Jerk, Ghostbusters, etc) until it explodes. Bill Murray is subsequently captured by Interpol.
There are a few good scenes incl an interesting segment based around exploring tensions between Hawaiian nationalists and the US army. But, like, I think we don’t have to be pro-Musk or pro-Bezos to be a little surprised that a movie about the threat of a militarised outer space so thoroughly lets the actual military off the hook. The website SpyCulture https://www.spyculture.com/updated-complete-list-of-dod-films/ claims that an “untitled Cameron Crowe project” is listed in the Air Force Entertainment Liason schedule for 2014, which I think might make it the first movie on this list to be made in collaboration with the Department of Defence.