There are bad films, and there are bad films that break your heart because they could have been so much better. I lump ‘The Female brain’ in the latter category. It is written and directed and also stars Whitney Cumming, one of those modern-day comediennes who I kind of like, but also kind of annoy me. She crafts this movie out of a non fiction book examining the differences between brains of men and women. These scientific finding frame the stories here, where she examines relationships. She also plays the neurologist (Julia Brezandine) testing and analyzing these findings. Cummings never convinced me that her character is a doctor, but I guess it doesn’t really matter as all these story lines bored me to death. And that’s a shame, since she has a great cast here, from James Marsden to Sophia Vergara to Cecily Strong, who are all wasted in the film. The one actor who really shines despite it all is Beanie Feldstein, playing her assistant, and although she played almost the same role in ‘Lady Bird,’ she is appealing that you can’t stop looking at her. (And Ben Platt has a small role here as well, which makes me think Cummings is a Broadway fan) It’s too bad the film is a waste of everyone’s energies, including mine from watching it.
I missed “The D Train” when it came out in the cinemas last year, and now that it’s out on video, I ave caught up to it. I wonder how this film was marketed : a buddy comedy, a Jack Black film? It would be hard to categorize it, but I have to say that this is a very interesting film. Jack Black plays Dan Landsman, a middle-aged guy in somewhere middle America (I assume) and is the chairman of his class’s high school reunion committee. His character seems to be emotionally stuck in High School – he is of the type that everyone just barely tolerates because he is narrow-minded, and his points of view are probably not in line with reality. One night, he sees a Banana Boat sunscreen commercial starring thei rhigh school heartthrob Oliver Lawless (James Marsden) and he concocts a bizarre plan to invite him to seek him out in Los Angeles for the purpose of inviting him to their class reunion. Dan is in obvious awe of Oliver, as I assume he always has even when they were high school students. So his plan gets bigger and more complicated when they get to Los Angeles, and here he gets to face an emotional attachment to Oliver that is hard to define, and has to deal with that then, and afterwards when Oliver eventually goes to their reunion.
Directors Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel sets up an interesting premise (they also write the screenplay) about the grey areas of bromance. When does attraction change from just admiring someone to crossing the line of infatuation. Black’s Dan is straight – a family man with two kids – but we see him falling in love with Lawless, who is bisexual. But is it really love in that sense? (Although Lawless, or James Marsden, based on physical appearance alone, would really be easy to love) The movie deigns to go through the exploration of these blurred lines, and I suspect most people who went to see this movie didn’t have a clue where it was going. Black is great here: unsure, insecure, unaware, blind-sided by his character’s feelings. I don’t know if I liked the pretty bow that this film got at the end (Life is much more nuanced by that forever-ever-after) but it’s great that the film asked these questions that are very hard to ask.