Thursday, May 01, 2014

Supporting characters and gore

In Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which I finally got to watch last week, bandmates Thom (played by Aaron Yoo) and Dev (played by Rafi Gavron) set up their heartbroken bass player and friend Nick Yidiaris (Michael Cera) with Norah Silverberg (Kat Dennings) whom they see as the perfect girl to get Nick's mind off his ex Tris. After a party, Thom and Dev separate the two to give them "the pep talk." Nick relays to Thom how he plans to get some answers from Norah about his ex Tris because she's friends with her, but Thom dissuades him.

Norah, on the other hand, expresses to Dev how she's worried it's not going to work because Nick is still hung up on her ex, to which Dev responds, "Nicky is definitely worth the underwire (referring to the underwire bra that Dev made Norah wear to improve her look). He just needs a little push, that's all."

In The Proposal, after Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock), a Canadian working in New York as a major publishing company's chief editor, confesses that the whole engagement and almost-wedding with her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) was just a scam so she doesn't have to face deportation charges due to her expired visa, Malin Åkerman's character Getrude walks in on Andrew reading a farewell letter from Margaret and asks him if he's okay. Andrew replies how Margaret is "a gigantic pain in [his] ass," elaborates on that statement heatedly and then says, "I'm sorry, I just... She just makes me crazy." Understanding that he actually meant "crazy for her" kind of crazy, Gertrude asks, "So you're just gonna let her go?"

In one of my favorite movies Friends with Benefits, Richard Jenkins' character has Alzheimer's disease and in an airport restaurant right before the denouement, sans pants and over steak, he tells his son Dylan Harper (Justin Timberlake) about Dede Spencer: "She was the love of my life. And I was too stupid to realize it and I lost her because of something so dumb I don't even remember. I never really got over her. And I think that may be one of the reasons your mom left... You know, my friends used to say that when Dede and I looked at each other, it was electric. And I let her go. I just let her go. Because I was too damn proud to tell her how I really felt about her... I'll tell you something that I wish I knew when I was your age. And I know you've heard a million times 'life is short' but let me tell you something. What this (referring to his head), this is teaching me is that life is goddamn short and you can't waste a minute of it."

Dylan Harper then confesses he messed up with Jamie Rellis, Mila Kunis' character, and Mr. Harper Sr. says, "If you think there's even a chance that she might be it, you fix it."

And there was also that scene before the conflict where Annie Harper (Jenna Elfman) tells her brother Dylan how he and Jamie seem really perfect for each other and tries to figure out why Dylan still doesn't want to get into a relationship with her despite that.

Something I've been mulling over lately is how life—or specifically, love—truly is not like the movies, but it's not because of the lack of a happy ending. I believe there is an abundance of happy endings, both in life and love, only they come in different chapters of our lives. My high school graduation was a happy ending and so was my college one, because I never had to wear a uniform ever again afterward and I became closer to people who really matter from both those stages of my life. No, I think what's not like the movies is the lack of Thoms and Devs, Gertrudes, Annies and Mr. Harper Sr.'s in our lives. Supporting characters who at very pivotal moments would tell you with the best intent, probably after slapping your face, to not go down a certain road because it will be a huge mistake. To give a guy a little more push because he's surely worth it. To run after a girl you've obviously fallen in love with despite constantly denying it. Or to fix things with a girl if you think there's even the slightest chance that she might be "the one." Heck, I know I could have used such deeply concerned supporting characters with my past relationships. Especially the last two ones, though the last was just an almost-relationship. It might not have even mattered whether those supporting characters knew the whole story or not, only that they were certain they didn't want me to make a mistake I'll regret in the future. If I'm really being honest, however, I'd have to say the other parties in my past relationships equally could have used such supporting characters. We all do. Which is why I try to do the best I can in being a supporting character for my friends. So that maybe, just maybe, my friends don't miss out on all the other happy endings they could get, those they might never ever get to without that helpful nudge. Those like the ones I didn't achieve.

I know Gossip Girl isn't a movie but in the tenth episode of its first season, Lily van der Woodsen (Kelly Rutherford), seeing a bit of herself when she was young and in love with Rufus Humphrey (Matthew Settle), tells Rufus' son Dan (Penn Badgley) of Serena (Blake Lively): "I'm not sure exactly who my daughter was, but I know who she's become since she met you. She returns home every night at a reasonable hour. She doesn't drink. She doesn't do drugs. I don't know if you're responsible for that, but I don't think it's a coincidence. You belong with my daughter, and I think everyone should know that."

Wouldn't it be nice to have such words said about you right to your face by someone's supporting character like that?

* * *

There is one other thing that's not like in the movies—the immensely enjoyable display of gore in films such as I Spit On Your Grave and Carrie.

(Spoiler alert!) The first I heard of I Spit On Your Grave was last year through a co-worker's Facebook profile of sorts I was editing (part of what I do at work, really) where he put it as one of his favorite films. The title interested me so much I decided to download and watch it even though I only had a vague idea of what it was about. And then a couple of days later I found out my friends also just watched it and that it has a sequel. I got to watch the sequel but they didn't, and I think I may have hyped it too much because they really weren't that impressed when I had them watch it with me at my friend Cams' place. I speed-narrated the important scenes because it was already late at night and we all had to go home soon, but I didn't get the reaction I was hoping for. Either I was a very bad narrator or I'm simply alone in my love for gore.

Suspending a villain over a tub of water mixed with lye, one of the acts of revenge performed by Jennifer Hills, the protagonist in I Spit On Your Grave. And this isn't even the most gruesome one.

I enjoyed Carrie even more because of the involvement of the supernatural (who doesn't want a superpower like telekinesis!). The 1976 version was beautifully eerie and the ending was totally unexpected (there was no surprise factor in the 2013 adaptation I saw in the cinema, though it was present in the uncut version I downloaded later on). The 2013 one had more enjoyable scenes, big thanks to their special effects team. One of them was this scene where Chris Hargensen's face crashes through the front window glass of her car after Carrie White stops it with her telekinesis. It was in beautiful slow motion, the marvelous culmination of Carrie finally getting even with the bully Chris. I enjoyed the scene so much I had to stop myself from standing up in the cinema to cheer Carrie on while I was watching with my friends.

1976 Carrie: beautiful approach to filming, fantastic acting and sound effects

2013 Carrie: amazing special effects and of course there were Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie) and Julianne Moore (Carrie's mother)

I do not actively seek gore films, though I have watched a lot of them (off the top of my head, most in the Saw and Wrong Turn series and the first two Hostel films). I enjoy it whenever it comes along, even in TV series I follow. The most recent ones were Game of Thrones' fourth season and the third season finale of The Walking Dead.

Joffrey Baratheon finally dies, though not as brutally as I have always imagined

A bite out of the neck, hitting a major artery, and he's dead

A stab to the neck after the old man harasses Carl, Rick's son

I realize I'm late once again in watching those, but the two TV series just haven't been doing it for me lately. Their episodes are too full of drama (someone always just has to have a meltdown in The Walking Dead) and too long (an hour for each Game of Thrones episode). Thank goodness for the gore. And thank goodness for the bad guys getting the karma that they deserve in the hands of those they have wronged before.

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