Random Factoid #509

19 12 2010

We’re getting to that point of 2010 where we can look back in retrospect at things.  Most critics are issuing their top 10 lists (or call them “The Social Network” and others given the unanimity this year), but Cinematical made a very different list this week: the most boring titles of 2010.

I had never really thought of it, but a good title really does make a difference.  If “Inception” had been called “The World of the Dream,” I probably wouldn’t be nearly as excited about it as I was.  If “How to Train Your Dragon” had been called “Vikings and Dragons,” I would have easily written it off.  Those are some of the best of 2010, but what about the worst?

The bland and the irrelevant usually make the worst titles.  For example, as much as I loved “Michael Clayton,” that title told me NOTHING about the movie.  As for 2010, we had plenty of culprits: “I’m Still Here,” the Joaquin Phoenix documentary, would have sent up no flags for the average moviegoer.  “The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix” would have been a significantly better choice.  “The Bounty Hunter” sounds like an action movie, not a revolting Jennifer Aniston rom-com.  “The Joneses” is a family name, not the title for a very perceptive social commentary.

There are many more of 2010 (see a much more complete list at the link above), but that’s just a sampling of how a movie’s title can have a significant impact on moviewatching.  Did it make a difference for you at all this year?

REVIEW: The Joneses

14 09 2010

American culture gets a good examination every once in a while from some ambitious writers and directors. But in Derrick Borte’s “The Joneses,” culture doesn’t get examined so much as it gets slapped in the face. It’s an address on the state of the American Dream in 2010 where the goal is no longer to better ourselves but to be better than everyone else.

Our image-driven consumer society hasn’t been so heavily satirized in quite some time, and because it’s a movie that speaks to our recession-weary minds, “The Joneses” arrives at the perfect time. Companies with something to sell hire family units like the Joneses to promote their products in affluent neighborhoods. Much like staging a house to sell it, the Joneses move into a neighborhood to sell an image. They are a true model of excess, decked out with the latest gadgets, fashions, and utilities. Reflecting the corporate values that more things makes you happier, each member of the family waltzes around town with a fixed smile and an aura of mystery, arousing curiosity and spiking sales.

The movie is spot-on with its lambasting of consumerism, yet it shows a few minor flaws when trying to delve into typical romantic comedy territory with subplots. It’s just business between “Kate” (Demi Moore) and “Steve” (David Duchovny), but he wants to add a little bit of pleasure to their fake relationship despite her insistence on keeping everything matter of fact. Much more tolerable are daughter “Jenn” (Amber Heard) and her scandalous affair on the side and son “Mick” (Ben Hollingsworth) as he struggles with identity issues.

In spite of everything, though, “The Joneses” still emerges victorious as it hammers the main focus home through and through, even daring to deliver a heartbreakingly devastating and jarring conclusion. Borte integrates humor and a thought-provoking critique of contemporary society so flawlessly that you’ll wonder why all comedies can’t be this good. A- /