After spending all of February recommending Valentine’s Day-friendly love stories, we’ll be recommending a movie that will make you think twice about romance for each week in the month of March. This week: Wong Kar-Wai’s Happy Together.
Happy Together tackles a very specific kind of love: The kind that can destroy a person’s life, because the feelings are so powerful that they make you betray your own best self. But despite that grim-sounding moral, this isn’t a depressing movie; it’s a powerful and ultimately hopeful one, about learning to overcome your worst instincts and grow in the kind of honest, incremental way that’s rarely seen on the big screen.
Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that Happy Together — like the rest of Wong Kar-Wai’s filmography — is a gorgeous film, with breathtaking visual style, excellent performances, and a perfectly chosen soundtrack. But while Happy Together won Kar-Wai a Best Director award at Cannes in 1997, it has since become one of his most overlooked films. Today, it’s rarely mentioned in the same sentence with his better-known work like Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love.
Fortunately, Netflix makes it easy to right that wrong. Queue up Happy Together this weekend, and enjoy one of the most powerful depictions of amour fou that cinema has to offer.
“Much of the world now sees Putin for what he is: a semi-delusional autocrat who views the disillusion of the Soviet Union as one of the greatest tragedies in the late 20th century and has confused his own geo-political propaganda for reality. Who would be fooled by this guy’s bull sh*t?”—
“Why did the Ming allow itself to become isolationist, stagnant, and backward-looking? Historians are divided, but the leading explanation is simply put, when a country thinks it’s in a golden age, it stops focusing on progress. America shows troubling signs of falling into this trap.”—Noah Smith, in What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
“Chelsea Handler’s comedic personality isn’t always easy to love; like Schumer’s and Sarah Silverman’s, it’s aggressive, raunchy, and thrives on shock value. Ultimately, though, these are all personas meant to undermine the cultural expectations we place on women’s speech. In this particular comedic performance, no one is proverbially safe and there’s little room for niceness.”—Stassa Edwards, in Stop telling Chelsea Handler to be nice
"There is no equality of opportunity in the U.S., nor anything remotely approaching it. Children’s outcomes are closely correlated with the incomes of their parents, more so in fact than almost every other similarly developed country. Year-to-year economic mobility is also very uncommon.
Since vigorously celebrating equal opportunity that does not actually exist has not managed to soothe the masses, a new tactic has evolved: dismissing the whole inequality discussion as an unfortunate bout of envy.”
Iggy Azalea just made the most amazing music video homage to Clueless
Children of the ’90s, get ready for a flashback: Australian rapper Iggy Azalea and British singer Charli XCX just dropped the music video for “Fancy,” and it’s an amazing #tbt tribute to 1995 rom-com masterpiece Clueless. Shot at the same high school the movie was filmed at, Azalea plays a badass version of Cher Horowitz, decked out in a spot-on version of Horowitz’s then-stylish boxy blazer and platform shoes. There’s even a shout out to Dionne’s near car crash at the 1:20 mark.
Toronto's Rob Ford continues to disprove stereotypes about Canada on Jimmy Kimmel Live
It’s time for Rob Ford to head back to Canada, because he needs some ice for that burn. The Toronto mayor — who at this point could dress up as a Mountie and rob a Tim Horton’s with fellow Canadian-behaving-badly Justin Bieber and no one would be surprised — appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night, where the late-night host used beyond-embarrassing pictures to compare him to L.A.’s genial (and photogenic) mayor, Eric Garcetti.
Bill O’Reilly’s segment from last Wednesday — the one in which he asks Kirsten Powers and Kate Obenshain to expound on some mysterious quality that makes women somehow less qualified than men to be president — has to be the most awkward moment of television.
I sympathize with the urge to respond to the clip with mockery. But sometimes a glimmer of truth can be found even in the tawdriest of settings — and it’s Powers who deserves credit for uttering it here. Wracking her brain for something to say in response to O’Reilly’s flippantly sexist provocation, Powers volunteers that a female president might be more easily goaded than a male president into military muscle-flexing as a way of demonstrating her toughness.
I like this comment not only because it undercuts O’Reilly’s smarmy insinuation that a woman would be too weak to stand toe-t-toe with macho tough guys like Vladimir Putin. I also like it because it may well be true.
Gay and lesbian troops perform in drag on American military base
Troops based at the Kadena Air Base in Japan know how to party. On Saturday, six gay and straight service members applied some of their finest makeup and lip synced to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” in what is believed to be first drag queen and king show on an American military base. The show was thrown in support for the base’s recently formed OutServe-SLDN chapter, a nonprofit advocacy group for the army’s LGBT community.
In tribute to Valentine’s Day, we’ll be recommending a different unconventional love story for each week in the month of February. This week: Paul Thomas Anderson’s neo-noir Hard Eight, .
Though he’s filmed just one movie that could explicitly be described as a romance, director Paul Thomas Anderson has explored love, in all its forms, in films like Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and The Master. But anyone who wants to see the roots of the themes he would explore with such depth and complexity in his later work should look all the way back to his first feature, 1997’s Hard Eight, which shows exactly what love and loyalty can make people do.
Hard Eight follows Sydney, an old-school gambler played by Philip Baker Hall. When Sydney happens to encounter John — a broke, hopeless young man played by John C. Reilly — he decides to take the younger man under his wing, teaching him the trick to making a living by hopping from casino to casino. As John remakes himself in his mentor’s image, Sydney takes another lost cause under his wing: Clementine, a struggling cocktail waitress played by Gwyneth Paltrow. But as the unlikely trio take their tentative steps toward a better life in Reno, the forces of both bad judgment and bad luck threaten to crash down on them.
On paper, the engine of Hard Eight's story turns on the messy, impulsive relationship of John and Clementine, which ends up cranking the narrative into high gear after the film's bouncier, more character-driven first half. But the real core of Hard Eight's story is the surrogate father-son relationship that develops between Sydney and John, which retains its tenderness even as the deep flaws inherent in both men become more apparent. Hard Eight is both a fascinating character study and a tense crime thriller — but in the end, the thing that stands out most is its beating heart.
“Jesse and Celine have lost the essential element that made them fall in love in the first film, and drop everything to be together in the second. They have lost the ability to listen to each other and connect. More than a romance between a man and a woman, the films were about the romance of communication. That the writers and audience both forgot this simple fact makes what could have been the most important cinematic love story of all time into the norm it once skewered.”