The Happening, If…

by KV

Current situation

Wenger! Get rid of Adebayor & get David Villa to put on an Arsenal jersey next season! NOW!

Currently back in his hometown for the weekend to collect his repaired & fully repainted car (thus deducting a thousand plus bucks from his pockets), Kevin is at this period of time suffering from extreme lack of sleep & therefore humbly requests for lenient forgiveness for his zombie-like appearance & extreme lag in normal communication & response during the day. He is too engrossed in supporting his beloved childhood heroes Netherlands in the current ongoing EURO 2008, or rather, now absolutely DEVASTATED that the Oranjes have been kicked out at the quarter-final stage (bloody Russians, suddenly playing so good football!). However, he is still aware enough to find the recent moanings from PAS Youth about implementing the Islamic administration at PR states & attempting to ban Mas Idayu & Ella to be flabbergastingly dim-witted.

Don’t you just hate it when during the past few days you had a whole junk of ideas to pen down, & then all it takes is a couple of depressingly stressful days at work to blatantly ruin your entire go-go mojo that you initially had, as if you’ve got someone’s foot permanently lodged into the back of your head? I do. Okay, perhaps it was not too bad since my past weekend was spent with (Joshua & Len Nee aside) Liv Tyler, Isla Fisher, Rachel Weisz, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson & Zooey Deschanel.

Let’s go for a round of quick reviews shall we. Anyone remember that melodramatic green monster fiasco Ang Lee cooked up a few years back? Well, if that movie dwelled way too much on the character & inner struggle of Bruce Banner, this movie goes the opposite way & decides to throw character development out the window & smack us with an onslaught of bashing-up action sequences. Not exactly a bad thing since this is about The Incredible Hulk; it’s a boy’s dream to see the monster bashing up The Abomination as noisily & violently as what was shown, almost like sex on an overdose of steroids.

Hulk still looked too CGI’ed for my liking, & I have to state that Edward Norton tanked as Bruce Banner (Downey’s cameo as Tony Stark was more memorable, so that says a lot), as intense as he was, & he had an agonizing lack of chemistry with Steven Tyler’s voluptuous daughter. Liv Tyler was sweet & much more girl-next-door than the gorgeous Jennifer Connelly from the previous Hulk; asking me to choose 1 of them as the best Betty Ross would be a tough one. Tyler did have the best scene of the movie though when she went bonkers on a taxi driver. Tim Roth was as dependable as ever. Good kick-ass summer movie all in all, but nothing more.

I finally got to watch Definitely, Maybe on DVD; the only reason I wanted to watch this was because I really needed to know why in-a-normal-homo-sapiens-universe would women like Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks & Rachel Weisz even go for a wuss like Ryan Reynolds. Turns out the movie was pretty decent even with the usual predictable storyline, especially since Abigail Breslin’s captivating interaction with Reynolds anchored the plot pretty well. The 3 gorgeous actresses play pretty much standard 1-dimensional women; the cute best friend, the high school sweetheart, & the elegant ambitious one, in which between these three only Weisz manages to squeeze in something a little more outstanding of a performance. Isla Fisher was noted to be extremely beguiling though.

In line with 1-dimensional women characters, let’s move on to The Other Boleyn Girl, also indulged on DVD. This time, the question was, how do you choose between Natalie Portman & Scarlett Johansson? It’s as easy as choosing between exotic brains & a huge set of melons not as easy as you think. Well, Eric Bana’s King Henry has the answer: don’t choose, bonk both, dump one & decapitate the other. The captivating Portman & curvy Johansson play Anne & Mary Boleyn, sisters who are caught in a dramatic sequence of events with King Henry that leads to horrible aftermaths. A vivid, well-carved out story, what the movie lacked (the Boleyn sisters’ 1-dimensional characters each & lack of further development) was made up by a commanding & intense performance by Portman. Even Jim Sturgess was effective in his small role. The costumes deserve special mention for they were amazing & appropriately symbolic. The timeline was however sometimes a little blurry & rushed, only dictated by the babies that popped out of wombs (watch & you will get what I mean).

This brings us to the final movie on the big screen, The Happening. Now I’m not a film critic specialist or whatever, but I know the sad misconception of the general public that M. Night Shyamalan’s movies are about the twists at the end, often overlooking the fact that this dude has came out with pretty decent original storytelling in beautiful ways. The Sixth Sense was acknowledged as incredible, & like many, I loved it. I thought Unbreakable was slow but awesome nevertheless. Next, though initially feeling as if I got cheated into anticipating it as a horror movie, I really appreciated The Village as a breathtakingly beautiful movie (after the 2nd & 3rd viewing) with stunning performances from Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, & John Hurt, among others. The porch scene between Howard & Phoenix will remain one of the most incredibly poignant & unforgettable romantic scenes ever. I do, however, have to admit nothing could have saved the calamity that was Lady in the Water, so let’s push that aside. I thought The Happening, a movie about nature kicking humans’ asses for once, had a great concept, but was let down by poor execution & acting. I remain oddly intrigued however.

Spoilers ahead: Let me lay it down for you, the twist in this movie is that there is no twist. The movie kicks off with rather stunning sequences of people inexplicably killing themselves in several horrible ways. Within the first few minutes you see a girl explicitly stabbing herself in the neck with a chopstick up close, lines of construction workers walking off the top of a building falling to their deaths, a man intentionally setting a lawn mower to run over himself, people hanging themselves on tree branches & a mass-shooting of their own heads with a gun…you get the idea. Terrorists releasing toxic gas? This idea quickly gets kicked aside as our hero Elliot, played by Mark Wahlberg, while leading his estranged wife Alma (I love Zooey Deschanel!) & his friend’s daughter away from the phenomena, soon figures out it’s the plants that are messing with humans.

I can recall many of the movie’s flaws. As this is entirely a character-driven movie, it is absolutely excruciating to watch Wahlberg’s dreadful performance. On the contrary to many reviews however, I found Deschanel‘s eccentric portrayal of the neurotic Alma to be rather endearing. The rather fascinating idea of plants communicating with each other to teach humans a lesson gets revealed too soon without much suspense, & after that the movie seems designed to just show us the many creative & gory ways humans can think of to kill themselves, made worse by laugh-out-loud scenes like the one involving a man feeding himself to lions. The way the whole shooting-the-two-boys scene & the horrible B-grade horror part of the movie involving the crazy old lady were handled just tops it off. Though still managing to instill shock & awe most of the times, the execution of such an intriguing idea was so appalling & left much to be desired. Even Shyamalan’s usual slick camera work were missing. Thankfully, for once, Shyamalan did not appear this time around, instead he was only the voice of Joey, the guy who kept on calling Alma.

With so many misgivings, why could I not stop pondering about the movie after the viewing? One would argue that the whole concept remained interesting & thought-provoking. It reflects our times ever so accurately, as in reality men pushes mother nature to the limits day by day, that the possibility of Earth deciding one day to teach us all a lesson just seems timely & even, to some extent, appropriate. Some of the underlying hints in the movie at humanity’s ever-increasing threat to nature were so subtle it took some time to figure them out (I needed some forums & IMDb to find out some other people’s interesting takes on some significant scenes). For example, when John Leguizamo shot out that math question regarding the resulting sum if you double previous days’ pennies everyday for a month, which gives an answer of about 10 million. Some viewed this as a reference to how much we unawarely actually affect Earth everyday with our small acts that increase by day. The whole crazy-old-lady scene was at 1st glance thought as completely pointless & (due to again, poor implementation) dreadful, but after much thought, arguably, she embodied a metaphor of mother nature in some ways. Her grudgingly welcoming & accommodating Elliot, Alma & that little girl into her reclusive home (“I guess I have to invite you all in…”) & slapping the little girl’s outreached hand (“Don’t take things that aren’t yours.”) hint at how Earth had no choice but to accommodate our lifestyle & how we take whatever we want from mother nature as we please.

Of course, when the old lady started killing herself every possibility was pretty much wiped away, & the symbolic possibility hit a brick wall. The significance of the completely-plastic model home scene & the bees question were never answered or discovered, while there was something definitely going on between Alma & John Leguizamo’s character. With such a promising & rather brilliant concept, it is sad that the execution was so poor in The Happening that the positive things that remained most memorable were a couple of cool deaths & a wasted fundamental inspiration.

& the ever-deadpan-gorgeous Zooey Deschanel of course. Her eyes. Wow. Remember her as the hot teacher in Bridge To Terabithia (who still got overshadowed by AnnaSophia Robb)?

Don’t forget to catch her first studio music album as part of She & Him as well, just out this year. Oh, the order for the Yamaha Handcrafted LL16 has been placed. It has happened, I’m doing it!

Current situation, indeed

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