Alex: Let me get the worst out of the way.
Double Take is one of the worst movies of 2010.
Now, I love Hitchcock, and I love movies that are responses to/meditations on other artists or works of art (like I’m Not There, or Howl, which I’ve been defending while the Iroids* pillory me).
But Double Take is just noisy and self-satisfied and trite. It gives no insight into Hitch, nor does it ever really introduce us to its one interesting find — an English dude who looks so much like Alfred Hitchcock that he is sometimes mistaken for him (30 years after Hitch’s death). Who is this guy? How has this particular resemblance affected his life or shaped his identity? What’s the connection between that idea and Hitch’s own recurrent themes of identity and doppelgangers?
The movie doesn’t bother to explore those questions. It’s too busy being all, like, “Oooh, the Cold War was scary, and oooh, Hitchcock tapped into American middle-class anxiety, and oooh, do you think maybe the birds in The Birds might be a metaphor for something?! Oooh, look at me, I love Hitchcock!”
Obnoxious fucking movie.
MEANWHILE … add to my list of top ten candidates I Love You Phillip Morris. I knew nothing about this movie going into it, so imagine my delight when, 15 minutes in, Jim Carrey — who plays a character who seems to live an ordinary suburban existence, steady job, nice house, wife and kid, etc. — has one of the most hilarious movie orgasms I’ve ever seen while having sex with a man.
What follows is a bizarre (and true, apparently) Romeo-and-Romeo story whose mix of ridiculous and sublime, satire and heartache, reminded me of Alexander Payne’s Election. There’s an uncomfortable (in a good way) agony at the heart of both movies, which is belied by their stylistic profanity. (And, hell, their verbal profanity, too.)
Carrey’s character, Steven Russell, is a perpetual outlaw, someone for whom systems and civilization are a bore. It’s not that he gets a thrill out of breaking the law, but rather that laws — and bureaucracy and offices and neckties and ethics and mores — are in his way.
Until he meets Phillip Morris (a sweetly naive Ewan MacGregor), whose love demands Steven live by some kind of code. Steven is Don Quixote, but his is a Dulcinea of flesh and blood (and penis).
I was really moved by this love story — and no, Aaron, not just because it’s about two dudes, but because it’s about a guy who has to confront his own flaws in order to be with someone he loves. He’s irrepressible, but he’s not a nihilist. Far from it.
* When I say the Iroids, I’m referring to the voting body of the Iras, the annual subversive, snobby, bitchy movie awards for which Aaron and I represent two votes. The 2011 Ira ceremony will be on March 26. Dear readers, you’ll hear more about them — and our votes — as we get closer, I have no doubt.
Aaron: Well, I shouldn’t say much about the Double Take movie because it literally put me to sleep, so I only saw parts of it and don’t actually count it on my list of movies I’ve seen this year/last year. I caught most of what you described, Alex, but it is so disjointed in my mind that I can’t put it together well… but maybe it was as disjointed in actuality as it was for me dozing on the couch… so maybe I did get it. Well, then, it sucks.
For the Phillip Morris movie, I think you’re too enthusiastic, Alex. It is basically what you explain it to be, but you fail to mention that it’s mostly Jim Carrey doing his Jim Carrey shit and is sorta painful to watch because his humor is so… 1991…
I think it’s more like The Men Who Stare at Goats (another McGregor film) than Election. It’s The Mask meets Catch Me if You Can. The whole point of Payne’s stuff is that he’s dead serious and so arch that he’s making fun of you, but you might not know it. There’s no zaniness in his movies at all. They’re subtle and clever (at least the ones up through Election). This is not subtle at all and Carrey is wildly overdone (his poncing around his Virginia Beach police station or around South Beach was way too silly, and though the gay sex was very honest… er, from what I hear… it was silly too).
The problem with what you say, Alex, is that Steven never deals with his shit. He cons his way up to the end and gets his lover into jail because of his shit (which is not a nice thing to do). He never deals with anything. The only reason the movie ends is because George W. Bush gave him a life sentence… which I think he deserves.
I found the character totally unlikable and totally impossible to relate to. Carrey’s silliness is off-putting to me and I find his dramatic acting so bathed in winks and tongues in cheeks that I can’t deal with it.
I think this is an OK movie, but is not better than Soderbergh’s The Informant!, for no other reason than it didn’t have the brilliant Marvin Hamlisch score (for which he won an Ira award). (Oh, and in a Talk of the Town piece in the early 1980s, the Iras were referred to as the New York Independent Film Critics Circle… I like that.)
(And now that I dared to suggest that The Informant! was a good film, I woke a sleeping giant in Alex… Fuck. Go ahead, sir.)