Koch On Film

B“The Last Kiss” (+)

This is a very good film about the emotional crises of four male friends as they approach the age of 30, and the midlife crises of an older couple in their 60’s.

Michael (Zach Braff) and his live-in, pregnant girlfriend Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) are discussing marriage. Along the way, Michael has a one-night stand with Kim (Rachel Bilson) a Lolita-type college student. Meanwhile, the marriage of Michael’s friend Chris (Casey Affleck) is on the rocks, and the long-term girlfriend of the third friend, Izzy (Michael Weston), has just dumped him.  Rounding out the group is Kenny, who looks like a California beach bum and is constantly on the prowl for new sexual encounters. 

Jenna’s parents, Anna (Blythe Danner) and Stephen (Tom Wilkinson), are the older couple whose marriage is on the rocks. Anna leaves Stephen and seeks to rekindle a romance she had with an older man during her marriage. Another relationship thrown in is the homosexual, mixed-race, couple living next door to Michael and Jenna. They simply have an appearance and their story is not told.  

How they all resolve their problems or don’t make up provides the balance of the movie. The acting of the four friends is quite good. Zach Braff is a competent, likeable actor who looks a lot like Ray Romano of television fame. Casey Affleck is a much better actor than his brother Ben, and Blythe Danner adds great credibility to the movie. Her role sounds like it is too contrived and wouldn’t fly, but it does.

“Mutual Appreciation” (-)

This is one horrible movie. During the 1:00 p.m. show on Sunday, four older people in my row walked out saying to each other that it was “boring.” This left only a couple dozen viewers in the theater. 

I went to see the film after reading Kyle Smith’s review in the New York Post. He gave it three stars, writing, “Another sweet nothing about befuddled youth from minimalist director Andrew Bujalski.” Baloney. In her New York Times review, Manohla Dargis wrote, “The wonderful independent film ‘Mutual Appreciation’ looks like something that just came out of a time capsule, but there’s nothing dusty about it.”  Ridiculous.

Alan (Justin Rice), who recently graduated from an unidentified college, plays the guitar and sings. Neither his strumming nor his voice impressed me, but they were far better than the idle conversations of the rest of the cast. Alan meets a young woman, Sara (Seung-Min Lee), who tries to seduce him, and he later has a non-physical moment of truth with Ellie (Rachel Clift). Ellie half wants to seduce Alan, but she is in a close relationship with Alan’s good friend, Lawrence (Andrew Bujalski, the director of the film.) Lawrence languidly talks a lot without him, or anyone else saying anything of consequence. At one point a minor character states that all he wants are “bitches and weed.”

HS said, “The picture was well crafted and the kids were alright, but we kept waiting for something to happen and then the credits came on.”

Get the point?  As those who departed the theater early said, this movie is “boring.”