SERENDIPITY (2001)

Serendipity 3

Elizabeth

I imagine most people who’ve seen Serendipity saw it because of a desire to see charming John Cusack and charming Kate Beckinsale brought together by fate and fall in love and live happily ever after. So I also imagine most of those same people were extremely disappointed because instead they got a Lloyd Dobler-wannabe and a waif being total childish assholes.

If you’re like me, you knew the whole thing starts with Jonathan (Cusack) and Sara (Beckinsale) meeting because they both grab the same pair of gloves at Bloomingdale’s, causing them to go on a are-we-fated-to-be-together journey. And that’s true, but here’s how it goes down: Jonathan, who is in a relationship, grabs the same pair of gloves to buy as Sara, who is in a relationship. Despite said relationships, they get ice cream together. They leave the ice cream parlor (called Serendipity 3, ugh) to go on their separate ways, but they find each other there again after they both realize they’ve left something behind at the ice cream parlor. Again, despite their relationships, Jonathan and Sara take this as a sign that they should . . . well, not be together, but enough to go on a more extended date around the city. At the end of the night, Sara, who is in a relationship, gives her phone number to Jonathan, but the piece of paper flies away in the wind. Sara also takes that as a sign, and I guess negating the previous signs of the gloves and the ice cream parlor, so she has Jonathan write his number on a $5 bill that she immediately spends and she writes her number inside a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera that she has in her purse for some reason  with the intention of selling the book to a used bookstore the following morning. IF THAT’S NOT ENOUGH OF THE FUCKING SIGNS FOR YOU, THERE’S MORE! Jonathan, who is in a relationship, decides that they should go into the Waldorf-Astoria together, get on elevators, and if they choose the same floor, they’re meant to be! Luckily for us, they do choose the same floor! So the movie should be over, right? Wrong, because that’s idiotic because of course something is going to happen in an elevator, like a child pressing all the buttons in Jonathan’s elevator, so they . . . DON’T end up together! So the movie should still be over, right?

Wrong. Years later, Jonathan is engaged to someone and Sara is engaged to someone. Despite that, for some reason (ie they DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED TO THE PEOPLE THEY’RE WITH) they decide to try and find each other again. After both receiving sign after sign saying they should be together and they shouldn’t be together, ultimately they finally fucking get together because jesus christ make a decision already. And how does Jonathan find Sara again? His sad, unknowing fiance gives him the copy of Love in the Time of Cholera with Sara’s number in it as a wedding gift. Thanks, fiance, and fuck you!!!!!

similar (not identical) situation is presented in the Richard Linklater’s Before series: the characters don’t exchange information but instead choose to meet at a certain time and location, and if it works they’re meant to be together. It doesn’t work, but they still end up together, but only after both admitting how childish and naive of a plan that was. Instead of basing their entire lives on this one thing, they move on, find each other again, and admit that they were stupid to think their big fate idea would ever work in the first place. Serendipity could really use a dose of that self-awareness.

Christopher

This is a movie I thought was around longer than it was. For some reason I thought Sandra Bullock was the female lead but I was totally wrong since it’s Kate Beckinsale. But it’s a romcom where I really don’t know why anyone would like it? It’s full of too many terrible people that shouldn’t be getting married.

A trope that shows up almost every time is that the conflict comes when the main character is supposed to marry someone other than the one they want. WHY IS THAT A STORY? Why can’t these characters just be real people and call it off? Why do they need to put the other person through so much shit, just in case the other romance doesn’t work out?

I’m glad I saw this since I’ve seen the cover forever but the idea that anyone would be invested in these people’s stories seems like a joke.

CON AIR (1997)

nicholas-cage-con-air

Elizabeth

When we watch a narrative film there is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. It’s expected and as an avid movie watcher, I’ve never had a problem with that. Until it’s too much to ask. Let me tell you the series of events that begins Con Air.

Nicolas Cage is Cameron Poe, an Army ranger who is back home from . . .somewhere. We basically first see him on a dock staring into a bar, where it turns out his wife, Tricia (Monica Potter) works. His wife is pregnant but extremely thin, which makes one wonder who got her pregnant since they act like they haven’t seen each other in years. Anyway, even though Poe is in full uniform, he’s immediately accosted by some drunk assholes. Because I think everyone knows that men in full military uniform are probably the biggest targets of harrassments in neighborhood bars. They shoo them away long enough to enjoy their night together but the men follow them to their car when they go to leave for the night. Really, Poe and Tricia could have easily still driven away at this point since they were both in the car. But Poe gets out and decides to fight. While he’s being attached, Poe punches one of them in the nose and kills them instantly. I’m assuming it’s one of those punch-in-the-nose-so-the-bone-stabs-the-brain punches that I heard about so much as a kid, but we never really get an explanation. Not that it matters because next time we see Poe it’s at his sentencing. He gets 7-10 years for manslaughter. Further, the judge gives him that much time because as a former Army ranger, his body is a deadly weapon and therefore . . . he has to pay more for what he did? Sooooooo in this world:

– When you leave the army they drop you off in a boat directly in front of where you need to be

– Civilians hate members of the armed forces

– Self-defense doesn’t exist

– A judge can willy-nilly decide to up your sentence based on the fact that you used to be in the army and that makes you more dangerous

So by the time we see Poe in prison, I have no idea what world we’re in. We’re not in the real world for the above reasons. The rest of the movie doesn’t help.

After being in prison for eight years, Poe is let out on parole. He’s never met his daughter because he didn’t want her to see him in prison (ugh). Poe is being flown to Alabama to be released (once they parole you do they not just let you go? I truly don’t know the answer but it seems weird that he would get paroled and then have to be on a hellplane with non-parolees) but is sharing a plane with prisoners who are not getting paroled but are rather getting sent to a crazy super super super maximum security prison. So on this aircraft you have a nice mix of people like Poe, out on parole for manslaughter, and Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi), a serial killer and possible cannibal. Because that sounds like a nice mix of gentlemen that will get along well! Also included are Cyrus “Cyrus The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovich), some kind of criminal mastermind; Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones (Ving Rhames) whom is somehow related to politics but is also a crazy criminal so I don’t really understand what his deal was; Johnny-23 (Danny Trejo), called that because he’s raped 23 women.

U.S. Marshall Vince Larkin (John Cusack) is overseeing this whole operation, which makes one wonder if he’s the most psychotic one of all. Because it reallyyyyy doesn’t take long for a riot to start, allowing Cyrus, Diamond Dog, Johnny-23 and others to be set free, further allowing Cyrus to kill the co-pilot and force the pilot to say everything is okay. There’s also a scary element where they have a female prison guard on board (another brilliant/psychotic decision by Larkin?) who, once the prisoners are freed, is under constant threat of rape by Johnny-23. Luckily, none of the other prisoners are okay with rape (she really kinda lucked out on that part) and they just all try to keep him off her. It’s just weird and scary. Oh yeah, there’s an undercover cop on board, too, but he gets killed pretty quickly. He did have a tape recorder on him, though, and Poe finds it. The plane is going to make a stop in Carson City for yet another criminal mastermind (this time a drug lord, Francisco Cindino) and afterward Cyrus has the plane head for a small airport where Cindino is arranging for all the prisoners to be picked up and taken to a non-extradiction country. A bunch of stuff happens and then everyone, including Larkin, ends up at the small airport. Larkin and Poe know they’re on the same side at this point. More shit happens, Poe and the rest of the prisoners leave the airport when they realize that Cindino had tricked them and a plane wasn’t coming for them. The prisoners then find out that Poe is a parolee and not a crazy psycho so they want to kill him. Luckily, the plane gets shot and is forced to crash land on the Las Vegas strip . . . so not exactly a super successful end to shooting the plane down. But, eventually, the bad guys all get killed and/or captured, Poe gets reunited with Tricia and meets his daughter.

Haha oh yeah, except for Garland Greene, who escaped and we last see playing in a casino. Happy endings for all! . . . except for the people that Greene will inevitably murder now that he’s out of prison. They kinda got screwed by the system.

This whole movie is so outlandish, even for an action movie. It’s hard for me sympathize or empathize with characters that are either entirely evil or caught in a world with rules that don’t make sense. I also got the impression that Cage’s long hair was supposed to make him look more like a badass but it was actually just distractingly gross and terrible. Also, Nicolas Cage’s idea of a Southern accent is apparently mimicking Scarlett O’Hara.

Christopher

I’ve really never thought much of this film. It was something I saw part of cause TBS and/or TNT used to play it all the time but I always found it very boring and uneventful. Watching it again I kind of felt the same way but I think watching it as, this is a terrible movie, instead of, this is a movie adults talk about a lot which must mean it’s good, brought out parts of this film I didn’t really notice before.

The movie is so full of holes and unnecessary issues it’s pretty funny. The whole story is about a giant plane that prisoners can’t escape from and within moments of it taking off the prisons are in control. And of course you have the great Nic Cage trying to do some 18th-century southern voice.

I wouldn’t really recommend this movie as I still find it to be a bit boring a slow but I’m glad I watched it with Elizabeth!