Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Review: Welcome To The Rileys

I remember when I first caught the sweet, rich smelling wind of this film being made; the cast and crew involved--and I got excited. Then I remember when Ebert posted his review of it after watching it at Sundance last January--and I felt a great of swell joy at his reaction.

See, if you are in fact a reader of my literature, then you would know that The Rog and me tend to see films and movies through the same or very similar set of eyes. So with his posting of his thoughts on the Jake Scott film (Son of Ridley Scott and Nephew to Tony; two producers on this) I was most pleased in deed. And now I am very inclined to agree with the man as well.

This film goes to a place that's not so far off in the distance; it's not so hard to spot. But . . . that's why you sit down to watch it. Although we later see Ken Hixon wrote his story with honesty instead of ungenuity (I know that's not a word)--and I as a watcher was most thankful for it.

Doug Riley is shrouded in the darkness when we meet him; housed by the night's shade with no moon casting white light upon him. The first if many symbolics in this film. The stubble from the morning shave is starting to come back, popping out of his cheeks. It is only when he lights his cigarette that we see his face, lit in the orange glow from the hot ash. He does this, like myself, as a way to "poop and think on the porcelain chair." By yourself. Gather your thoughts and daily brain ponderments.

Lois, his humble, sweet-natured and most motherly in deed wife of count-'em thirty years hasn't left the house in some ten odd years and keeps herself a chicken inside a coup. Not even her mail nor the garbage cans can she bring herself to collect. Doug, an Indianapolis pluming supplies contractor, alleviates himself through his poker games, his garage smoking sessions. . . and an affair with the cute waitress Vivian. He attends her place of business for waffles every Thursday night and then they attend a place of lodging to be alone with naturalism of two people who know full well what could become of them, but they display patience. Nice. The next night after he tries to grab her to go to New Orleans with him, she drops from a heart attack. This hurls him back into a hidden depression he beats long ago, or maybe, just suppressed enough wit the underdog-ish smiles Gandolfinin is famous for, where his eyes are grinning with his big mouth. Their daughter at 15 died in a car crash, a most specific kind we learn later understand why Lois is doing worse off then her beau. The couple has limped on ever since like Gotham City after the first depression.

The marriage is dead, stalled and in a state of disrepair. Vivan is the straw that broke the camel's back this causes Doug to get lonely, get sad, and get his big feet moving into a strip club in the middle of the afternoon upon his arrival to New Orleans for his business convention.

Cue Mallory; with a delicate tap of her very high, very white heel from the bartop.

She steps away from her pole with a smile and sells Doug a VIP Room experience. Upstairs, she offers all kinds of sex for all kinds of money--Doug only wants of conversation.

Before he knows it, he's buying her dinner, walking her home and sleeping on her couch. He tells his wife he's selling his business and staying in New Orleans. One toilet-snake and a set of some pink rubber gloves later, he's giving her $100 a day to stay there, and keep her out of trouble. We understand what and why he does this, Doug does too, but seems to be grasping at straws in his head about the true nature of his kindness. She of course doesn't refuse such an offer, $100 a day for a tenant (sex not included) isn't a bad deal.

The thought of losing her husband to an otherworldly decision to up and chill in New Orleans drives Lois to do something. . . Leave the damned house. And leave she does, even if she dings the Cadi backing out of the driveway.

There is a thing of magic here, a slow-boiling before the water spills over the pot. Doing the laundry, at Doug's request turns into the final balancing of power.

She said no, he said yes, she asked for her money, he gave it to her and then threatened to dock her pay for cursing. And she gives in, at first she knows it's because she's getting paid, but then she realizes it's because of more. . . She doesn't know what yet, but, more. She does this by begging him not to be mad at her. . . As they sit outside the laundry mat. Awesome.

And thus, for a time, becomes the father, and eventually mother, for a daughter. Surrogates. Bruce Willis had it all wrong son.

Leo shows us the subtle honesty of a born-to-live mother as she weeps desperately to help clean Malory up and give her more then smokey strip clubs. She perhaps has the best scene in the film bringing her bras and underwear in a dressing room as they exchange conversation.

Gandolfini reminds us once again why "He's the boss" and always will be with his accent (supposedly nailed to perfection) and his understated demeanor, a far cry away from Tony Soprano.

Stewart, finally stepping out of the trapping of the pink-ink pages of Twilight, comes to us with ragged, jagged  features, pimples, blemishes and shitty, dirty clothing. She prefers to call it "her cooter" and smokes incessantly, wearing over-sized sweaters and baggy jeans off the men's rack. I stated something about enjoying and being excited to watch her grow in film for years to come, these moves she makes in show-business are why. Her character, the teen runaway stripper who smokes, drinks, curses and walks with the best of any regular hairy-tattooed bar-patron was an honest portrayal of a person. No gimmicks, and not saying, "Hey! Look at me when I'm not in teen bubble gum crap!" Stewart shows us a cat off the street corner, and does not get tamed and showered and thrown into a baby-blue polo with a khaki below-the-knees skirt, drinking lemonade and smiling at the end of the film with her new mommy and daddy. From her own mouth we learn the hard truth of her nature, and willingness to be her own woman:
 "I'm nobody's little girl! It's too late for that shit."
One can see why she took the material on, it was merited; not "Just because!" like Michale Bay explosions or useless shots of Wahlberg's face in The Happening.

In this debut by Jake Scott, he shows us the nature of humans and how when they make their decisions and are not judged by the director, the nervous studio suits or the screenplay. I say again: honesty; it soars and inflates to great heights. It also brings up a most disgusting quote by a man I've come to greatly admire.

"Fly go hard like geese erection!"
                                           --Lil' Wayne

 Munki Out.

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