Don Jon

Review: Don Jon

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Don Jon

The Pitch: Jon’s Addiction.

The Cockney Rhyming Slang Review: Due to the graphic and adult nature of the content of this film and my desire to make this as much of a PG (or 12A) blog as possible, I have replaced the stronger terms in this review with Cockney Rhyming Slang. Most of the translations are courtesy of whoohoo.co.uk and londontopia.net.

A friend of mine once asked me why being called a merchant banker was an insult. His reasoning was that everyone does it, so why would anyone be offended to be called one? Maybe there’s still a social stigma to anyone who prefers merchant banking to good, old fashioned Posh ‘N’ Becks, possibly some deep seated religious conscience. Strictly speaking, there’s nowhere in the Bible that condemns merchant banking, but it does condemn certain sexual practices, and (especially for men) there’s an association between merchant banking and Frankie Vaughn, as many men feel the need for a bit of Frankie to get themselves in the right state of Chinese Blind. It’s easy to take the moral high ground and to Barnaby Rudge those who do, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first film for the Stevie Nicks attempts to understand what makes a young man want to play with his Uncle Silly while watching Frankie.

As well as directing Gordon-Levitt is the la-di-da of his own film, the Jon of the title, a young man who’s disenchanted with the physical nature of his physical relationship with twist’n’twirls. He’s in the rub-a-dub every night with a different twist, but ending up in Uncle Ned with them is never as satisfying as the time on his own with his pistol and shooter. When he meets Scarlett Johanssen he tries to be a better old pot and pan, but he’s soon falling into the same old patterns, patterns repeated in his weekly confession at the left in the lurch. He gets his strong New York passions from his dad Tony Danza, while his sock and blister Brie Larson sits silently in judgement. The only person who truly seems to understand him is fellow student Julianne Moore, a few donkey’s ears older than JGL and the only one who doesn’t seem to sit in judgement.

Gordon-Levitt follows the typical path for this kind of jackanory, surrounding his Jon with other alpha males, but the Frankie remains resolutely off the Betty Grable when it comes to getting under the true nature of his Barney Rubbles. While he makes some interesting decisions as a director, the script is generic and Jon starts out as little more than a caricature. He’s a Max Factor of credit and gradually shades in Jon with levels of detail, but it’s the performance more than the storytelling that makes Jon feel real. It’s not helped by Scarlett Johansson, who also seems to act in one too many stereotypes and it’s difficult to orange peel anything much for either of them. It’s only when Julianne Moore shows her Chevy Chase that Don Jon starts to generate any kind of depth or satisfying narrative arc.

So Don Jon is an odd hybrid, of an exploration of onanistic pleasures, a coming of age story and an unusual turtle dove story. It doesn’t have anything profound to say about merchant banking, Frankie Vaughn or Posh ‘n‘ Becks but it does at least see the other aspects of its story through to a reasonable conclusion. It’s a mixed start to JGL’s directorial career, and you can see what he was aiming for to a point, but it’s all a touch predictable and safe, which is quite an achievement for such potentially offensive subject matter. Let’s hope that this is the start of a long career : I Adam and Eve that young Joe’s got plenty of talent but next time I hope, with no small sense of irony, he shows slightly more orchestra stalls.

Why see it at the cinema: If you didn’t feel you got enough cinema discomfort from watching Blue Is The Warmest Color, here’s an ideal opportunity to test your tolerance for sitting in a room full of strangers while topics not normally discussed in polite conversation are brought up repeatedly.

What about the rating: Rated 18 for strong sex and sex references. Also has a tiny bit of bad language and some joint smoking, but even so it’s far from the most extreme 18 rated film I’ve seen and there’s very little dwelling on the material at hand.

My cinema experience: Having missed this at my local Cineworld, I ventured further afield to catch both this and Captain Phillips at the Cineworld in Braintree. A good job I was only seeing two films, as the car park appears to have a six hour limit (so no seeing seven films in a day here). It appears to be a newer Cineworld, as the seats were still comfortable and I managed to find plenty of legroom in both screens, and there were no sound or vision issues in either film. The only slight downer was that I was actually sold a ticket for Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa instead of Don Jon, so had a mad dash to the concessions desk after Captain Phillips to find someone to tell me which screen I was actually supposed to be in.

The Score: 6/10

The Half Dozen: 6 Most Interesting Looking Trailers For November 2013

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I remember when all this were fields, as far as the eye could see. No, wait, I’m not sure this was ever fields, exactly, but I can remember when it was all film reviews made of graphs and silly poems and obsessing about Christopher Nolan and being freaked out by Catherine Zeta Jones’ face. Somewhere along the line I turned from a little read reviewer of films and loose advocate of the cinema experience into a zealous campaigner for the very fabric of cinema in the face of stubborn intransigence. Oh, and I do very occasionally still write film reviews.

I have no regrets about the ongoing battle with the Competition Commission, and if anything I can see this changing my outlook and my blog forever. I now believe there is a national debate required about cinema distribution and the role of organisations such as the BFI to help ensure cinema can be seen in the right venues by those who hold it dear. In the mean time, I appreciate this might get a bit samey for anyone not living in Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge or Aberdeen reading this blog (and if you are by some freak occurrence living in Aberdeen and your name isn’t Dallas, please do say “Hi!” in the comments section), so this is an effort to get back to just talking about films for a bit. Normal service will never be resumed, ever, because there is no such thing as normal round here, and in a way I hope that’s why people will come back when all of the Competition Commission nonsense is in the past.

Gravity

So I have seen this one, and a review is imminent, but if you’ve not seen this in a cinema yet, indeed the biggest cinema you can find, then stop reading right now, take a photo of this page on your snazzy camera phone to prove for posterity that you did indeed stop reading right now, and head to your local cinema. If there was an Oscar for the Best Justification For The Existence Of Large Screens, Indoor Sunglasses And Obscenely Loud Surround Sound Systems then this would be as nailed on as Anne Hathaway bawling her lungs out in a charity shop reject dress.

Don Jon

Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt a big enough star to justify putting his name in large font in the credits these days? One of those films you just know has a press pack somewhere with a cast listing of Golden Globe® nominee Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises), Golden Globe® nominee Scarlett Johansson (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble), Academy Award® nominee Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Jurassic Park: The Lost World), Emmy nominee Glenne Headly (Mr. Holland’s Opus) and Golden Globe® nominee Tony Danza (Cannonball Run II). Sigh.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour

Because I have the maturity and sophistication of a six year old who’s likely to spend the rest of his school career being held back a year for picking his nose, any time anyone mentions the word “lesbians” this starts playing in my head:

I even have the strange feeling that isn’t the first time that clip’s appeared on this blog. However, lesbians aren’t the most prominent feature of Blue Is The Warmest Colour. Nor are the repeated stories in the press of the travails and tortures that director Abdellatif Kechiche put his cast, or indeed my spell checker, through. No, the feature of this particular film most likely to draw your attention is its running time: 180 minutes. Where I come from, we call that three hours. (Actually, I call that THREE HOURS?!?!?!) Consider this low quality screengrab of the films over two and a half hours I’ve seen in a cinema since The Movie Evangelist bust forth into mewling infancy in April 2010.

Long Films

The top two had intermissions, so this looks like it could be the longest film I’ve seen in a cinema in one go, at least in The Movie Evangelist’s lifetime. Hopefully surgical stockings will be handed out at the door instead of 3D glasses to prevent DVTs.

Computer Chess

This month’s semi-obligatory dry indie comedy. Move along.

The Flu

I was in a radio debate a couple of weeks ago where the subject of subtitled films came up, as an example of how to tell the difference between a Cineworld-type cinema and a Picturehouse-type one. Proving that there’s an exception to every rule, it seems this Korean film is heading only to Cineworlds, possibly because it looks like Outbreak II: Epidemic Boogaloo.

Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor

You want to know what love is? Love is: having a complete and total obsession about cinema, but not going to a cinema to watch the most important ever episode of your favourite British TV show in 3D because your wife normally watches it with you and she won’t be in from work until it’s finished, then trying desperately to stay off the internet to avoid the torrent of massive spoilers that will now be raining down across the internet like the tears of a million angry toddlers, and hoping that she won’t be too tired to watch it when she gets in from work so you’ll have to barricade yourself in the house to wait until Sunday to watch it. That’s what love is. (Might watch a bit on the iPlayer before she gets in.)