November 25, 2011, - 4:42 pm

Wknd Box Office: My Week w/ Marilyn, The Descendants, The Skin I Live In

By Debbie Schlussel

I’ve already reviewed some of the good new movies for Thanksgiving that came out on Wednesday.  Now, here are the also-rans–two I didn’t get to, and one (Marilyn) which just debuted in theaters in my area, today.  There’s one decent one and one which is just simply horrifying garbage.

 

*  “My Week With Marilyn“: I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe was the most overrated figure in history.  She was nothing more than a selfish, neurotic, self-absorbed, manipulative, temperamental bimbo, respected only because like James Dean and JFK, she was mediocrity that died young.  And, so, I expected to hate this movie.  But I liked it, in part because it goes along with my view.  On the other hand, others who buy into the “Myth of Marilyn” also like it.  Thus, I guess Marilyn flicks are in the eye of the Marilyn beholder.  I also liked this because it’s light and fun and full of glamor from the time in which it takes place, the ’50s.  It’s not a “great” movie destined to be a classic, but it’s not bad.  It’s entertaining and is what we expect to get out of a good time at the movies–almost two hours of escapism.  It’s also enjoyable because Michelle Williams nails it, making us instantly believe she is Marilyn Monroe.  She gets the persona down in every way, from the mannerisms and behavior to the voice and the look.  It’s uncanny.

The story:  Eddie Redmayne plays Colin Clark, a 20 year old English blueblood to the manner born.  He wants to impress his aristocratic family, but also wants to pursue his interest in film and make something of himself.  So he finagles his way into a job as a third assistant director a/k/a gopher on a set of a movie starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier being shot in England.  Olivier is directing the project, believing it to be a star turn for him.  But despite the best laid plans, that’s not how it turns out.  Monroe is her usual self.  She’s bombastic, unreliable, always late, constantly forgets her lines, and always broods, pouts, and cries.  Soon Clark and Monroe develop a friendship which appears on the cusp of turning into more.

It’s a bearable kind of chick flick, though less bearable because Marilyn Monroe is the man, and young Colin Clark is definitely the chick, doe-eyed, naive, fawning, and all.  It’s somewhat predictable from beginning to end, but a balmy, light, pleasant road along the way.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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*  “The Descendants“:  This highly over-rated exercise in ennui stars the world’s most arrogant actor, George Clooney.  And he’s suited for the role as a know-it-all, workaholic lawyer and Hawaiian resident, who thinks he is smarter, better, and more moral than everyone else in his life.   But he’s in for a rude awakening.  He’s out of touch.

Clooney is the descendant of a Hawaiian princess and an American banker, and he’s the trustee for his far-flung set of waspy-looking Hawaiian relatives deciding what to do with 25,000 acres of valuable Hawaiian land they’ve all inherited on Kauai.  Clooney wants to sell to a local hotel, golf course, and shopping mall developer, though some relatives want to keep the land intact.  Clooney’s wife is an adventurous person who gets severely injured and put in a coma during a boating or water-skiing accident.  Clooney must deal with his two young daughters and become close to them again, as he struggles with his wife’s deteriorating health condition in the hospital and discovers she was cheating on him.

The only thing admirable about this movie was the eventually close relationship between father and daughters.  But that wasn’t enough to get me to like this very slow movie chock full of the smug Clooney moralizing and lecturing us as he does in real life.  Annoying is the best word for this film in which little is resolved and the people are highly unlikable.

TWO MARXES
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*  “The Skin I Live In [La Piel Que Habito]“:  This is the most disturbing, horrifying, disgusting, barbaric, warped movie I’ve seen in recent memory.  I was absolutely sickened and should have walked out, as more than one person did (I was not at a studio screening–which I couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict, but went to see this on my own).  This is billed as a “sci-fi thriller,” but don’t let that fool ya.  It’s a complete piece of utter abomination and garbage.  Nothing thrilling about it, and there’s hardly “sci-fi,” so much as there is rape and torture.  This “movie” is absolute proof that no matter how warped and disgusting our own un-American Hollywood is, the movie industries of Europe are far worse and and even more beyond help.  This movie is so sick, so bad that mere words are not enough to convey just how awful and perverted it is. But I will provide the spoilers here, so that you don’t waste a penny on this sickening cinematic display. (It’s in Spanish with English subtitles.)

Mr. Melanie Griffith a/k/a Antonio Banderas stars as a plastic surgeon, whose wife and daughter have both committed suicide and whose daughter was raped.  Banderas’ surgery clinic is inside his mansion.  Banderas’ wife was having an affair with Banderas’ half-brother, the maid’s wanted criminal son (the maid is also Bandera’s mother, unbeknownst to him).  Then, the wife was engulfed in flames in the car while she’s there with her lover.  She is hideously deformed from the burns, and when she sees herself in the mirror, she jumps out the window in front of her daughter.

Then there’s the daughter.  Since both the daughter and the guy who raped her were hopped up on drugs and alcohol and begin having sex, I’m not sure I’d call it rape, as she tries to get him to stop in the middle–and then he knocks her out (okay, that part is the violence and rape).  The daughter goes nuts after the rape and kills herself after some time at an insane asylum.  To get revenge, Banderas kidnaps the guy who did it and gives him a forced sex change operation against his will, transforming him into a beautiful woman whom he keeps prisoner in his house.  In the process, he discovers a new, tougher skin transplant morphing the cells of pigs and humans.  Banderas develops a crush on this alleged rapist whom he’s forcibly changed into a woman, who looks similar to his dead wife.

One day, the maid’s criminal son, Banderas’ half-brother, returns to the mansion and rapes the newly sex-changed rapist.  Banderas returns home and kills him and then begins having sex with the rapist whom he forcibly sex-changed to look like a woman.  Ultimately, the kidnapped, sex-changed woman kills Banderas and Banderas’ maid/mother and returns to his mother, who has been looking for her kidnapped son for two years.  He must tell his mother what has happened to him and how he’s been forcibly changed into a woman.

Sick. Nauseating.  Disgusting.  Warped.  That’s what passes for “art” in arthouse movie theaters, these days.  Thanks, Antonio Banderas, for contributing to the human waste material in the world’s intellectual septic tank.  If you like this movie, you are in serious need of help . . . and a straitjacket.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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30 Responses

The Skin I Live in sounds more like a snuff picture with a transgendered twist than anything else. Castration, mutilation, suicide rape, and murder all wrapped in a bow for your holiday entertainment.

worry01 on November 26, 2011 at 12:39 am

    Its not the worst movie ever made. “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” was the most horrifying, nauseating film I ever saw. Its chockful of cannibalism, adultery, meaningless sex and murder. I was in my 30s at the time and I watched it because I was curious as to why all those critics gave it rave reviews. When it unfolded onscreen, I knew I was in trouble and they were so dead wrong about it and I wondered what any one could see any redeeming merit in such utterly unwatchable trash. There was apparently no accounting for taste among intelligent people – like Roger Ebert who highly praised it. Maybe its just me but I expect better than such a blatant assault on my values and sensibilities and while I’m not a prude, for me as a filmgoer, there are limits. Not that Hollywood cares about them.

    NormanF on November 27, 2011 at 5:36 am

      Norman, as usual I am 100% with you on that. I remember that horrible movie, “The Cook, etc.” and the fact that I was talked into going to it by an ultra-liberal boyfriend who was duped by the “critics” into thinking it a “marvelous, daring film.” I walked out on the movie, and the date.

      Last night at dinner a young liberal acquaintance went on at great length about how much she was looking forward to seeing both “The Descendants” and “The Skin…” because they are such “important” films by such incredibly talented filmmakers. This young woman is currently “working on” a PhD in film criticism, and is completely taken in by the reputation of the “filmmaker” and no matter what a load of caca the movie really is, she will gush ad nauseam about its “brilliance.” I’m so glad we have Debbie to watch this drivel so we don’t have to.

      DG in GA on November 27, 2011 at 12:16 pm

        I like Dadaism, surrealism and the Bauhaus – but modern trends just leave me cold. I can appreciate the fantastic, the unexpected and the simple. But the obscene, vulgar and tasteless – I don’t believe that’s art. And I don’t trust intellectuals’ description of reality even though I have graduate school training. Evil is still evil even when you wrap it up in a pretty package complete with the ribbon for the flourish!

        NormanF on November 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm

        DG, I was once taken in by the media hype on a first date as well. Mine was back in 2003, when I took a lovely woman to see “Love, Actually”, starring Hugh Grant. It was about 4 couples whose relationships didn’t merge until the end of the film. What the trailers didn’t reveal, however, was that 1 of the couples were porn actors! I was so embarassed, and I’m sure my date was too!

        “Love, Actually” gets my vote as the worst film I have ever personally seen!

        Quasar on November 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Not so soft-core pornography that Spanish cinema is(actress’ in this movie previous film consists exclusively of lesbian sex) does not contradict Islamisation of that country. Though they abolished the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, its antisemitism is all that left, unfortunately.

Lev on November 26, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Yup. Spain is the most anti-Semitic country in Europe after ScandoIslamia. When traditional morality disappears, there is nothing to say bigotry is a red line you shouldn’t cross.

    And no doubt all of you have heard by now of the Muslim Brother cleric who ranted Friday that “We’ll kill all the Jews one day!” and if you Google the newsfeeds, you won’t find a mention of it.

    But that’s OK cuz Obama has assured us the MB is moderate, there is nothing to see here and its time to move on. No one is bothering to notice its not really hiding its true nature anymore.

    And with the Islamist win in Morocco, it doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing in the Middle East.

    NormanF on November 27, 2011 at 4:33 am

I found myself agreeing with Vladmir Putin we don’t need sick art and a measure of professional and ethical responsibility from filmmakers isn’t too much to ask for. Film is a serious industry and cinematic license doesn’t extend to making sickening and revolting movies. When I read Debbie’s review of “The Skin I Live In” – I thought that is a good example of what the Russian Prime Minister meant. Since film shapes the minds and values of the viewing audience, some moral and ethical guidelines should be followed. If its not fit for a woman or a child, its certainly not good enough for a man. There are limits the film industry should certainly respect, irrespective of their nationality. For every one’s sake.

NormanF on November 26, 2011 at 3:56 am

Years ago I heard about the project that became “The Skin I Live In”, back around 2002, I think. The premise was so bizarre… ..and then I noticed more recently that it actually went through with production (I thought maybe they gave up on making it). I knew it was an out-there film and was glad to see your reaction.

MH on November 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

Hollyweird is sicko-land(even though this was made in Spain) that is why I do not go to movies, even the supposedly good ones. Don’t you realize they take the profits of the “good ones” to fund trash like this & the Corruptocrates in government. No thanks give me a good book any day.

A_Zion_State_0'mind on November 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Pedro Almodovar. Luis Bunuel. That’s all you need to know about Spanish cinema, if you have the stomach to handle it.

I know that George Clooney can do good movies, but I suspect his douchiness is starting to overpower any desire in me to go and see any movie in which he would be involved. Although most artists in general are by nature and necessity complete douchebags, at least they stay focused on their respective arts. Clooney is just a douche-monster, devouring everything in sight everywhere he goes. I’d blame it on “The Facts of Life”.

Thankfully I now have a new graphics card. It’s TORRENT time this weekend.

Shabbat Shalom, y’alls.

The Reverend Jacques on November 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Actually, I might splurge on some entertainment for a change. I hear that “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” is a beautiful waste of time.

The Reverend Jacques on November 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Hey Jacques,

What’s wrong with Luis Bunel? Who’s a better surrealist filmmaker? He made so many classics.

Darkbloom on November 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Luis Bunel was a Spanish filmmaker exiled from Franco’s Spain to Mexico. He was a surrealist and his films are full of dream-like imagery, in which common every day meanings are really their opposite. He is best known for Object Obscur et un Desire from his French period – he moved to France at the end of his life. The lesson one gets away from it is that which which we want to obtain most is an illusion or it comes at a very high price. And love is the ultimate act of revolutionary subversion – we are changed without knowing it when we are in love.

    NormanF on November 27, 2011 at 5:10 am

Gee, I do not know what to say after reading that Banderas/Griffith film. At one time I loved very edgy films but this one is so fricken’ sick I do think I would have hated it if it was made 20 years ago. The plot does not even make sense. I guess a lot of sex preverts are covering up their perversions by being filmmakers today. Ick. I will skip it (and I was gonna see it…)…what rubbish!

Yay! I get to rag on Clueless Looney again! Can you imagine a toad like him, who openly (yet cannily) displays his lack of respect for women lecturing US on how to be? What a complete tool. I have never seen such overt misogyny from a man, but because of what he looks like and who he is the dopey females swoon instead of seeing this wolf in sheep’s clothing for what he disgustingly is. If he looked like Larry King he could not get away with it. 4 girlfriends back I should have started a blog dedicated to mocking the foolish females that take up with him. I especially like when they are pushed aside (coldly) for a newer and fresher model! I actually have more disdain for the broads than Clueless Looney. He actually tells everyone (in a nonchalant way) openly he has no respect for females (and every dummy thinks she can change him!) Gotta love a Liberal!!

I enjoyed the review on Marilyn Monroe. I have never though Williams was beautiful (pretty, yes.) and I wondered how such a plain-egg could be picked to play the very gorgeous (yet vapid) Monroe. She must be a great actress. I concur with your sentiments on Monroe. Other than her looks I have never seen the allure of her and find her to be a horrible role model for women (I always cringed when girls said they loved her). I was always more into ballsy broads like Lauren Bacall. Gorgeous, smart and intelligent!

Skunky on November 26, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    There is a difference between being edgy and simple insanity. An edgy film is adventerous and and eccentric, as in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shinning”. If you need an example of something on the other side of that, you could pick the Gore Vidal inspired Caligula(full version). Of course, any picture directed by Bob Guccione would not be for family viewing, but this flick from 1979 went well beyond that in terms of sheer grotesqueness. I think even Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus(Caligula) would have thought it overdone.

    Worry01 on November 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      Right on Worry! Great example (with “The Shining”) and I will name other films that belong in the “Caligula” dumpster. These are wretched films that say something horrible about the directors and those who like the films…

      “Spanking The Monkey”
      “The Kiss”
      “Funny Games”
      The Bad Lieutenant” (The first one…but I hated Herzog’s too!)
      “Crash” (James Spader film)

      Skunky on November 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm

just avoid any movies with that Banderas guy and everything should be OK

okie dokie on November 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm

“: I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe was the most overrated figure in history. She was nothing more than a selfish, neurotic, self-absorbed, manipulative, temperamental bimbo, respected only because like James Dean and JFK, she was mediocrity that died young.

I agree about James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. The only song more played to death than “Candle in the Wind” is “I shot the Sheriff.”

Miranda Rose Smith on November 27, 2011 at 5:25 am

James Dean is remembered only because he sped too fast on the way to a race, had a terrible car crash and died instantly. When you die before your time, no one remembers all the things you didn’t get to do.

NormanF on November 27, 2011 at 5:43 am

Time to watch “In Her Shoes” again.

Tanstaafl on November 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I just watched “60 Minutes” do a free commercial for Angelina Jolie’s (she directed and wrote it, but does not act in it) “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” It’s set during the Bosnian War and it looks violent, but it’s also a love story. Can’t wait to see if it’s politically correct, like her role of Mariane Pearl in “A Mighty Heart.”

Why does Debbie do this to herself? When you’re disgusted with “The Skin I Live In,” just walk out! Who finances these crappy, unwatchable films?

Barry Popik on November 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Regarding Marilyn Monroe, the “death is a career move” explanation of her continuing fame, while certainly applicable–and even more so to JFK–does not tell the whole story.

MM, like JFK, was a direct result of the inaptly named Greatest Generation wanting to create its own icons. Here were two people with little more going for them than their appearance, who were embraced because they were something new.

Ironically, Nixon, although virtually the same age as JFK, was identified with the past. And, Jackie Kennedy, who was portrayed as far more gracious, attractive, and sophisticated than she really was, represented a welcome change over the dowdy Mamie Eisenhower.

Red Ryder on November 28, 2011 at 8:46 am

I’ll have to raise my eyebrows on Debbie’s review of “The Descendants.” That it’s directed by Alexander Payne, the bard of Omaha, is enough reason to see it. He did “Citizen Ruth,” “Election,” “About Schmidt” and the Oscar-nominated “Sideways”, each in their own way a Candide-like black comedy on how high hopes can turn to wise disillusionment. I expect “The Descendants” to satisfy in the same way as well. As for George Clooney, I could care less what his off-screen politics are — he’s a first-rate actor.

Seek on November 28, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Seek, you and DS are like the NEW “Siskel and Ebert” of our time. A love of films yet you disagree on whether they are good or not. I do miss Gene Siskel. He was a great film reviewer. I love films and film reviews.

    I have to agree with you on “Citizen Ruth” and “Election”. I enjoyed those films very much.

    Skunky on November 28, 2011 at 11:51 am

And I get weird looks for watching Star Trek reruns?!

P. Aaron on November 28, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Norman, ‘The Cook the Thief His Wife and Her Lover’ was not a Hollywood film by any means. Peter Greenaway is an acquired taste.

Darkbloom on November 29, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Right back @ Darkbloom…

One must be on some serious pharmaceuticals to appreciate ‘The Cook the Thief His Wife and Her Lover’.

I did when it played on pay-tv. After 3 more beers, I got to understand it’s point.

The Reverend Jacques on November 30, 2011 at 2:37 am

Miss Schlussel:

According to one of my uncles who researched it, Marilyn Monroe is my first cousin.

Most of my relatives just laugh at the idea, but a cousin I met on the Internet swears that it’s true.

As for me, I don’t really know.

But, true or false, it sure makes a great story!

Biologically, Marilyn Monroe and I would not be related, for both of us were adopted children.

I recorded myself playing my guitar and singing one of the songs she performs in the movie, “RIVER OF NO RETURN”, and it’s posted on the YOU TUBE web site and also at my own web site, “OUR ETERNAL STRUGGLE”.

At those web sites, just search for “RIVER OF NO RETURN” or for my Internet user name, “writesong”.

I saw her in another movie, “BUS STOP”, which I also liked.

Thank you.

John Robert Mallernee
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Gulfport, Mississippi 39507

John Robert Mallernee on November 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm

.. and the sequel has the mother of the sex changed rapist falling in love with the sex changed rapist and her\his and Banderas’s child having sex with his mother and grandmother..

as nauseum.

real sci fi is Heinlein. this is just as you say Debbie, this is sick.

Panhandle on December 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm

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