In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

36. The Ghost Writer

Century Regency 6
Cinemark's Century Regency 6, in the San Rafael suburb of Gallinas, was built in 1983. The building looks a bit like that of a bank.

The lobby is a smaller version of the typical Cinemark cafe. An arcade juts off to one side.

The auditoriums, which feature ample legroom and the same great seats as the Grand Lake, seat from 130 to 392. The theater's total seating capacity is 1479, just seventy-nine more than seated by the Castro's single screen. Once again, seating numbers are courtesy of a patient box office attendant.


Prior to the actual pre-show there was a trivia slideshow on an approximately sixty second loop. I can now anagram "The Book of Eli" without even thinking about it.

Ten years after Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew was adapted into 10 Things I Hate About You, we get a television spin-off of the same name. The movie was predictable but enjoyable. The show looks just like most high-school shows, but more light-hearted and probably geared toward tweens. It has two of the stars from Sky High.

Have you seen those eTrade commercials where the babies are talking about buying stocks? They oscillate between really funny, and horribly creepy. This ad has a baby boy explaining via a webcast to his girlfriend that he was up all night trading stocks. She patiently listens to his lame excuse, then asks, "Is that milkaholic Lindsay still over?"

Betty White as a football player's famished alter-ego is awkward, because she gets tackled. Seeing old ladies tackled isn't fun. I enjoyed better the commercial where the famished alter-ego is Aretha Franklin, who, sitting in the back seat and complaining, is accused of being a diva.

I didn't know Sam Worthington was Australian, but his accent is audible in an interview for Clash of the Titans. Should I be impressed that Australians are so able to imitate a flat American accent, or should I be saddened that they've heard us talking so much that our own accent comes as second nature to them?


Between this trailer and that for Green Zone, I'm realizing that I have no interest in seeing action stars neutered. After watching Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, Mrs. Smith, and Fox (from Wanted), why would I want to see her as a regular fed without special powers? She plays Evelyn Salt, a government agent accused of being a Russian spy (do they still make those?). As portrayed by the trailer, her team is ready to laugh off the accusation, but she immediately bolts, incriminating herself. Why? For $10.25, you can find out, and that's some cheap intel. 128 cuts.

John C. Reilly is a painfully awkward romantic who somehow gains the attention of Marisa Tomei. Tomei is great, because she conveys both that she could have any man she wants, but also that she has discerning taste, and is looking for the unconventional. The romance is going well, until Reilly discovers that Tomei's adult son, Jonah Hill, still lives at home with her. Hill has an Elektra complex, which Tomei does little to discourage, and soon Reilly is embroiled in a secret battle for Tomei's affection. Hill seems to be playing his role as bizarre, rather than sinister, which could result in an enjoyable film. 99 cuts.


Remember Me
Robert Pattinson rebels against his rich father, Pierce Brosnan, by being a broody jerk. Emilie De Ravin, in turn, rebels against her cop father by dating Pattinson. Having great parents myself, I find it difficult to relate to characters who seem intent on making their parents' lives difficult for no good reason, so hopefully the film gives us more to go on. What makes the preview good is that Pattinson is allowed more range than his vampiric counterpart in Twilight, and De Ravin looks good with him. 107 cuts.

The Ghost Writer
Here's the gig. Spend a month in a large beach house on an island off the Massachusetts coast (not Shutter Island, thankfully). Your meals will be prepared and delivered to you at your discretion. On the first day you should read a 600+ page manuscript in a well lit room with a view of sandy dunes. You should spend the remaining days interviewing the manuscript's subject, interacting with his many attractive assistants, and revising the document into a readable memoir. Your compensation: $250,000. The catch: well, you have to do it all in a month, first of all. Also, if your work is unsatisfactory, you might end up face-down in the surf. But any job is bound to have its drawbacks.

Ewan McGregor is the ghost writer hired for the above task, editing the first draft of a memoir detailing the life of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). McGregor has big shoes to fill. Not only did his predecessor finish the first draft prior to dying, but everyone seems to have liked him (well, we're sure that someone didn't like him).

Among Lang's staff are his assistant (Kim Cattrall), his attorney (Timothy Hutton, who starred with Cattrall in Turk 182! twenty-five years ago), and his wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams). In interacting with each of these individuals, McGregor receives mixed messages about the importance of the memoir. The draft is protected by tight security, suggesting its importance, yet McGregor, having read it, knows it's fluff. Lang is embroiled in a legal and PR nightmare over his treatment of war prisoners during his term, yet, amidst this scandal, he and his staff still seem to prioritize the completion of the memoir. Why not just shelve the project?

Ultimately, the mystery is trying to determine what the mystery is. McGregor is suspicious, but we're not sure of what. All evidence points to the memoir as being some critical expose, but it isn't. McGregor is forthright with his curiosity, confronting Lang's staff when he uncovers inconsistencies in Lang's past. Rather than shush McGregor when he gets too close to the truth, Lang and his staff are frank and cooperative. No subject is off limits. The conspiracy seems to be to make McGregor uneasy just for the fun of stressing him out.

McGregor's professional boundaries begin to blur as he is absorbed into Lang's world, assisting with more than just revising the memoir. His isolation adds a bit of Hitchcock-like suspense; if there is a conspiracy, McGregor is cut off from any outside aid. When he goes snooping for the truth he also leaves himself open to attack from some unknown assailant.

Though The Ghost Writer is engrossing, it is perhaps too patient in uncovering the mystery. While McGregor becomes incrementally more obsessed with the memoir, I was becoming more interested in the inner politics of the Lang household. Ruth's relationship to Lang's assistant is of particular barbed interest. It's not healthy for the agenda of a movie's audience to diverge from that of the movie's main character. At its finest moments, like when we watch a note being passed through a crowd, the film is quite good. As a drama, the pacing is wonderful, but as a suspense it drags.

(The ending is a slap in the face, reminiscent of another of Polanski's films.)


  1. Apparently Lindsay Lohan thinks that eTrade is mocking her with their milkaholic ad. "Milkawhat?" has become my new catchphrase.

  2. Ah! six days to late to your comment, which has exactly . . . nothing to do with the movie.

    But it's spicy.

    I found this story funny. Granted it was from Yahoo News (which is probably AP) which can quote whatever, but listening to her parents it was almost satirical. Apart from them using the name Lindsey (and strikingly it turns out there are quite a few Lindsey's in the US), their "evidence" that they were referring to her was from the slurs they had considered to rip her. Obviously those slurs could only refer to their daughter, therefor they were refering to the daughter.