Television rots your mind. And there is perhaps no show more brain paralyzing than that shit-fest Friends: a completely implausible sitcom full of terrible actors that somehow managed to fool the world into watching their garbage. Just the thought of David Schwimmer makes me want to take a razor blade to my tongue and drink some vinegar. And Jennifer Aniston, while at least being somewhat good looking, isnt much better. Far too often, one of the Friends pops up in a movie, ruins it, and makes you want to puke. This week its Jennys turn in the new mishmash thriller Derailed, opening Friday at the Village 8.
Derailed stars Clive Owen ( Sin City, Closer) as a married-with-token-child Chicago businessman who meets also-married Aniston on a train then dates and confides in her. Just before they are about to screw, a psychotic Frenchman (the only kind, really) busts in and beats Owen then forces him to watch as he has his way with little Jenny. Later he blackmails the cheating couple and Owens inability to protect himself, his lover or his family makes for a frustratingly painful castration-effect of a movie that poses as a noir thriller.
Derailed lacks the chemistry and tight cohesiveness a true thriller needs though, and its tense moments are just a bit too predictable. As well, Owen is too charismatic an actor to pull off the helpless schmuck act and Aniston is too girl-next-door (this happens when you build your entire career on a single character who actually is a girl next door). Derailed is the first American film by a Swedish director, starring a British actor, a French villain, Americas sweetheart and two hip hop Rappers (RZA and Xzibit.) Its a messed up stew of a movie that never really congeals into anything substantial.
And the fact that rappers cross over into acting so easily suggests their rapper personas are nothing but a big act as well doesnt it? But thats neither here nor there so lets move on.
The Weatherman is one of those movies you might like but not know why. Its a downer of a film, a depressing bored-middle-aged-white-guy-shuffles-through-mid-life-crisis movie staring Nick Cage as a Chicago weatherman who leads a dreary and lugubrious life. His wife is gone, his sons just out of rehab (for smoking pot, of all things) and his chunky daughter has elevated apathy to a fine art. His award-winning father (Michael Caine) is dying and random people continuously throw food at him in the streets.
Director Gore Verbinski has crafted a bitter, dour, depressing film but Cages skills manage to add enough pastiche to his character to slide some dark comedy and emotion under the radar and somewhat save the film.
Since its Oscar season and mid-life crisis movies do well at the big show ( see last years Sideways, or rather, dont) its no surprise to see a movie with the bright and cheery message that accepting your position in life is the key to happiness. Finish your 50-hour work week, suck it up and dont be a dreamer, whatever you do, because the future is more cloudy with showers than sunny breaks. Funny stuff.
What is really funny stuff is the newly released DVD of the week Office Space Special Edition with Flair . Pretty much the opposite of The Weatherman this classic about not caring about anything and the personal and professional empowerment that entails is perhaps one of the best comedies ever. Its also Jennifer Anistons second best movie, behind 1993s Leprechaun for which she almost won an Oscar. Ha, not really. And Ill take Angelina any day.
AT VILLAGE 8 Nov. 11-17: Weatherman; Derailed; Zathura; Chicken Little; Jarhead; Prime; Legend of Zorro; Saw 2.
AT RAINBOW THEATRE Nov. 11-17: Into the Blue.