“The Words” and “The Bachlorette”

Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana in “The Words.”

It is striking how different two movies can be from each other.  Coming from someone who writes about, and teaches, film this statement should not be a revelation.  Every now and then however the obvious does announce itself and, when it does, I think it healthy to get back to basics by acknowledging it.

Having just completed a busy weekend of teaching (which included having my students watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the Nicholas Brothers, Chaplin, short films and a really good documentary) I found myself, on a bleary eyed Monday morning, in front of the cavernous, 25 screen, AMC Empire multiplex on 42nd Street looking for films about which I could write.  As with all AMC theatres, including those much closer to Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, all shows before noon are only seven dollars.  It is a great deal. 

The two movies that I wound up seeing were “The Bachelorette” and “The Words.”  To find two movies more apart in terms of content, thoughtfulness and human decency would be difficult.  The only similarity between them, that I could tell, is that each takes place in New York.

I will start with the good news.  “The Words” is one of the most compelling, thoughtful and involving new narrative films that I have seen in quite some time.  It is a multi-layered story about writers, the thin line between fiction and real life, the choices people make and the power of the past to effect the present.   The film has a fine cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons.  It has nice cameos by Ron Rifkin, Dann Florek and Michael McKean.

Quaid plays Clay Hammond, a successful author who is addressing an audience at a reading of one of his books.  As Clay begins to read we see the story of his book played out.  The story concerns a young couple, Rory and Dora (Copper and Saldana) very much in love. Rory is a struggling writer.   Eventually he meets a mysterious old man, brilliantly played by Irons.  I will not say anything more about the narrative.  It should be experienced, not announced in advance.  In fact, in my opinion, the film’s trailer gives away too much of the story.  “The Words” gradually enveloped me with a story that is about stories within stories, where at times I had to keep reminding myself what was real and what was fiction (at least in the context of the story) as the two began to blend.

While “The Words” enveloped me, “The Bachelorette” did not.  I found it to be a mean, snarky comedy about a group of shallow, vacuous, catty women with whom I would not want to spend ten seconds, let alone the film’s 88 minute running length.  Somehow the film’s distributor got it booked into the Angelika Film Center, a move that gives the movie a very undeserved dose of artsy, indie street cred.  How interesting that “The Words,” which is tailor made for the Angelika, is not playing there.

“The Bachelorette” plays like a female version of “The Hangover” (2009).  Three women, in their early thirties, get together for the wedding of a girl that they used to ridicule on high school.  The bride is Becky, nicely played by Rebel Wilson.  Becky, a former bulemic is over weight and unattractive and yet has snagged herself a good looking husband.  Now this could have made for an interesting story about inner beauty as in the Farrelly Brother’s very good 2001 movie “Shallow Hal.”  Alas “The Bachelorette” does not go in this direction.

Each of Becky’s friends is self centered and self absorbed.  They do not have the decency to be kind to their friend in the lead up to her wedding.  Why Becky would even invite them in the first place is beyond me.  Becky is nicely played by Rebel Wilson with a level of sweetness and decency not present in the film’s other characters.   Aside from Wilson I liked Kirsten Dunst as Regan, the ring leader of this train wreck of a group which seems to revel in past resentments, drugs, alcohol and meaningless existence.  Dunst seems to be having a great time playing such an irreverent and oblivious character and she does it well.

Aside from Rebel and Dunst, if you have not guessed by this point, I cannot recommend ‘The Bachelorette” but “The Words” is the one to see.

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on September 11, 2012, in New and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The movie’s called “Bachelorette.” Hard to take a review seriously that doesn’t even get the title right…

  2. I wanted to see The Words and now I will definitely try to see it! Thanks for the review of it.

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