Tag Archives: romance

I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011) or livewithfilm broadens its horizons and suffers the consequences…

31 Oct

In the spirit of wider filmic know-how, livewithfilm decided to take the plunge. Don’t fret though, more horror fun will follow shortly!

Laughably labelling itself as a romantic comedy, Douglas McGrath’s I Don’t Know How She Does It remains an insufferable vision of entrenched sexism. Besides regarding itself in a falsely noble light, the film misses every opportunity for feminism or fun and merely affirms a phallocentric vision of working life. Sarah Jessica Parker once again struggles to find a role suited to her small screen strengths in busy mother Kate Reddy. Managing to juggle childcare with a high-flying financial role, Kate is applauded by all and sundry. Yet when business guru Pierce Brosnan threatens to whisk Kate away on global business trips, the heroine must choose between family and her job.

While bungling a hackneyed plot that adds little to a genre already saturated with sub par entries, McGrath instils a trying patronising streak tohis filmwhich marvels at the female capacity to work. Using its first act to shoehorn in its inquisitive title at every opportunity, the film positions Kate as an oestrogen fuelled totem for male compatriots to gawk at in wonder. Even though Pierce Brosnan’s jet-setting silver fox can happily undertake a full time job, Sarah Jessica Parker’s workload is constantly signposted as a cause for contention. Concluding that a woman must choose to either be suppressed housewife or power-suited breadwinner, I Don’t Know How She Does It reinforces tired gender roles unsuited to the Carrie Bradshaw era rom-com. Woefully out of touch with contemporary enlightened thought, even Mad Men’s exceptionally powerful Christina Hendricks is sidelined amongst an ensemble of underdeveloped female characters.

Having shown his capacity to support complex plots and career defining performances in overlooked Truman Capote pic Infamous, McGrath’s mishandling of narrative sense in I Don’t Know How She Does It seems all the more disheartening. Apropos to nothing, the film decides to indulge in vérité straight to camera interludes which only resurface during the final scrabble for a conclusion. While McGrath could be applauded for seeking to add something unexpected to his film, the director doesn’t have the conviction to use this tool for any real means. It is as if the self aware artistry of the Nouvelle Vague has been filtered down into an empty, time wasting gesture. Yes the fourth wall is shattered, but the film’s foundations are taken with it.

I Don’t Know How She Does It has nothing original to say, in fact only undermining a genre previously adept at envisioning powerful female leads. While causing a solitary laugh at the expense of its banking protagonists, the film is awe inspiringly unfunny. Jokes don’t simply fail they are nonexistent, sucked into a bland black-hole of thumb twiddling tedium. Adding to the woe, the real comic talents of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelsey Grammer and Saturday Night Live regular Seth Meyers go entirely to seed. The real question to be answered remains: I don’t know why they made it.


Bonnie and Clyde (1967) or forces conspire against livewithfilm…

15 May

Yes, it has been a little while coming but today’s livewithfilm post serves as a retort to the many reasons this blogger might have to just stop writing. While livewithfilm will never become sickened by the sight of celluloid (hooray for sibilance!), after gaining a job at a magazine, there is questionable logic in sitting at a computer to blog after spending my working day doing the same. Nevertheless, when film’s like Bonnie and Clyde tear in, tommy-guns blazing, there is little livewithfilm can do but write away. As Henry Newbolt would say: blog up! blog up! and livewithfilm!

Seductively meeting eyes across an attempted car theft, Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) become immediately and irreversibly reliant upon one another. Drawn into a series of dangerous bank robberies, Bonnie and Clyde grow in infamy and develop their fame acrossAmerica. Forming the Barrow Gang, the group continue to confront the banks that they despise with increasing vehemence.

Watched in the happy surroundings of The Prince Charles Cinema, Arthur Penn’s film was a thrilling and often emotionally devastating ride. The movie clearly owes a debt to the kinetic visual graces of the French New Wave, even without the directing styles of Truffaut and Godard who were both linked to direct the project before Penn.Perhaps as a result of the influence the film had over the pop art scene subsequent to its release, Bonnie and Clyde constantly provides iconic visuals that fill the screen and demand your attention. Just as the bank robbing duo become dependant on the fame that surrounds them, Penn never lets a scene depart without insisting on your attention with an arresting image. Dunaway and Beatty create an arresting couple and the relationship they depict is touchingly heartfelt next to the ever escalating violence. Even though livewithfilm knew exactly what was coming, it left the cinema with a lump in its throat, touched by a beautifully crafted parade of characters. Bonnie and Clyde remains a surprisingly timely depiction of bank-bashing-en-masse that is ripe for rediscovery in the current world of celebrity highs and poverty lows.