Going the Distance

Culture Warrior

Imagine what some of our most beloved romantic films would look like if they were made in the 21st century. Laura and Alec of David Lean’s Brief Encounter could have managed their secret meetups over text. Harry and Sally could have checked each others’ okcupid accounts before explaining every aspect of what they seek in a partner over a cross-country road trip. And Ilsa would never have had to get on that plane because, y’know, the war’s over. This is a fruitless endeavor, I know, but it brings one thing into light which poses both problems and opportunities for the contemporary romance film, specifically the romantic comedy: politics, economic conditions, shifting gender roles, and technological evolution means different kinds of relationships and, thus, different kinds of romantic movies. How can the 21st century romance film expect the wedding-bell-chiming happy ending to work in a society full of emerging adults who feel less and less of a need to get married? How can new romantic comedies account for the fact that today’s working professional must move constantly – putting all their human relationships at risk – in order to find a job that suits them without only making films about the uber-privileged? Will there ever be a mainstream romantic comedy featuring a non-monogomous or non-heteronormative protagonist? Several recent screen romances have attempted to tackle the changing nature of relationships – or, at least, the type of relationship typically depicted in the Hollywood romance.

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I’m going to share something with you. I have a sick obsession with sex movies. I don’t mean I always watch them with salacious intentions, because I have to draw the line between art and pornography somewhere. Let me be clear, I really enjoy a movie whose sole purpose is to titillate a viewer so much that they question what they are really watching. I’ve spent many nights snuggled up on my couch cringing my way through Catherine Breillat’s many sex shockers. I made a boyfriend attend a viewing party for the highly controversial, yet exceptionally boring, 9 Songs. I’ve even gotten into fights with Netflix over its recommendation of Salo based on my high rating of Irreversible. Those last two movies have nothing in common, by the way. Sex-centric dramas have been a secret, back alley passion of mine. But in all my years devouring these movies, I rarely see comedies that both deal frankly with sex and show it. Sex is usually the butt of a joke in comedies, rather than a catalyst for moving a couple forward.

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This Week in DVD

This week sees a first in the history of the column… at least I think it’s a first. Not only are there no new DVDs worth buying this week, but there are also none worth avoiding. It’s an all rental week here at the West Coast offices of FSR! That may be because this is a fairly light week of releases in general which is odd considering the proximity to Christmas, but just because the pickings are slim doesn’t mean they’re not worth watching. The DVD pick of the week is the surprisingly funny, dirty, and sweet romantic comedy Going the Distance. You shamefully missed in theaters… but now have a second chance to watch in the comfort of your own home and in the arms of someone you love to play with naked. Also out this week? Part three of the emotionally vacant Twilight series, Eclipse! Nicolas Cage playing with his wand in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice! Tom Cruise in Knight and Day, the better than expected action comedy with worse than expected CGI! Two documentaries about Walt Disney that both avoid the subject of cryogenics! And more!

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This Week in Blu-ray

As we gather for our first post-Black Friday, post-Cyber Monday, post-Turkducken day edition of This Week in Blu-ray, it isn’t very hard to see that most studios decided to take a bye week. Universal saw fit to release two Ben Stiller comedies, and not very well. Disney is bringing Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel to the party, as willy wizards surrounded by some of the more interesting effects work we’ve seen all year. They also took time to bring a truly beautiful animated musical (or two) to Blu-ray for the first time. Also, Rob Hunter stops by to recommend a movie with “kill” in the title, which is never a bad thing. All things considered, it may not be the most robust week of Blu-ray releases, but there are certainly some interesting twists and turns.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Going the Distance screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe (pronounced “La Tulip”) stops by to share his xenophobia, puff on his pipe a little harder, and tell his personal story of getting his first screenplay sold and produced all from the comfort of his living room couch. We also find time to review Easy A, Devil, and The Town.

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Geoff LaTulippe is at a rare crossroads in his life – he’s just had his first script produced into a major film called Going the Distance. He’s already lined up a next project that sees him writing a zombie romantic comedy, but before he disappears completely into Hollywood, FSR and Reject Radio will get him for one night only. This should be a great opportunity for those listening live on Sunday (10pm EST/9pm CST/5am Khartoum) to get in some questions about starting off in the business of screenwriting and creating a comedy career. Or to just generally harass him about writing in a nude scene for Justin Long. Be there, be square or listen later during that important business meeting you download podcasts specifically for.

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The Reject Report

It wasn’t a stunning weekend for the motion picture box office. Not only was it the lowest, cumulative weekend for the top ten films, it was the lowest box office take for a top ten in over two years. However, despite this low number, the blame can’t really fall on the shoulders of the individual films in the market. Rather, the deciding factor on how poorly the overall box office did this weekend was in the fact that only one film got a wide release. In a day and age where we are seeing as many as five or six films hitting thousands of screens on any given weekend, you’re sure to have the lowest weekend of the year when you are only given one.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, movie slave monkey for UGO.com Matt Patches shows up to give us hell. After some witty banter, he and Cole discuss the finer points of racial tension, bring Jan de Bont to a gun fight, and take a look back on our entirely appropriate relationship with Robert Rodriguez. Plus, we find time to review Machete, The American, and Going the Distance.

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The Week That Was

With this week, Summer 2010 has officially gone. We are into September and here in Austin at Reject HQ, the temperature is back down into the 90s and we’re looking forward to seeing all of our genre-loving friends at the end of the month for Fantastic Fest. As you’ll begin to notice, we will soon become very preoccupied with what’s happening in the war room over at the Alamo Drafthouse, where the final slate for Fantastic Fest 2010 seems to be coming together quickly. But for now, there are still films in theaters and news from around the globe that have caught our interest. That interest was quickly turned into articles filled with biting commentary. Those articles are assembled here, in a weekly column we like to call The Week That Was…

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr jumps feet first into the world of exploitation pictures. He rips off his shirt to show his prison tats when he sees Machete and then becomes a weapons expert to go head-to-head with George Clooney in The American. Finally, he cringes and rolls his eyes at yet another crappy real-life couple love story with Going the Distance. It’s sad when the highlight of his moviegoing weekend is a Lindsay Lohan nip slip.

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You’re lying in bed with the clock reading some un-Godly hour in red analog, and you reach out your hand to find only the cold space of the other side of your bed. You want to pull the one you love close to you, but you can’t, because they’re gone. They aren’t on vacation or out of town for work. They are – for the foreseeable future – living in a completely different city. Most people have found themselves in this position. Even though the concept of the long distance relationship was probably invented when the first tribe realized there was a second tribe (or at least when war starting sending soldiers away for long periods of time), the struggle to keep the fire burning with mileage looming in between is especially appropriate for an age where you can find love on the other end of an internet connection. It’s the challenge of cross-country romance that the main characters of Going the Distance find themselves facing.

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The Reject Report

We’ve got a message. For Arizona! Machete has arrived, and he’s brought his sharp, little buddies with him. For over two years now, fans of Grindhouse have been clamoring for a full length version of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete. Now, they’ve got it, and, more than likely, it will wind up on top of the box office this weekend. It will have some stiff competition, though, as also in wide release are Going the Distance and The American, the newest vehicle for a man who has Rodriguez partially to thank for his film success. It’s gonna be a barn burner. So let’s sit back, crack open a bottle of Dos Equis, and see how the weekend is shaping up.

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them by now. Strange, we know. Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of August going to the local library, making phone calls to important producers and making fan trailers out of macaroni to make sure that you, dear reader, are in the know about what’s coming out in September. Don’t let Machete scare you. If you watch movies, this guide’s for you.

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