Wednesday, April 22, 2015

November

1/4

Starring: Courtney Cox, James LeGros, Nick Offerman, Anne Archer, Michael Ealy

Rated R for Violence and Some Language

Words cannot express how much I hate movies like "November."  Movies that are vehicles for the director to show how "artistic" he is and how "not mainstream" he is.  I can't be the only one who feels this way, can I?  I guess so, because judging from the reception of "The Rover" and Wes Anderson's fanatical following, there are plenty of people who drink this stuff up.

Sophie (Cox) is a rather mousy photography teacher whose boyfriend Hugh (LeGros) was murdered in a robbery gone bad.  Naturally, she's pretty broken up about this and is suffering from headaches, not to mention guilt (she cheated on him once, but never told him).  Somehow, a photograph of the corner-store where Hugh was murdered shows up in one of her presentations at school.

I don't know whether editor/director Greg Harrison thinks he's some sort of auteur, trying to impress the avant-garde crowd, or just an incompetent hack, but the result is the same: the movie sucks.  Not only is it pretentious to the extreme (lots of needlessly long reaction shots or shots of inanimate objects), but the plot is a mess.  There's nothing wrong with messing with a story's timeline or including dream sequences.  Or even having the plot go in the polar opposite direction at a moment's notice.  But there has to be a reason for it.  A "method to the madness," if you will.  Meaning, the audience has to understand what is going on and how it fits in with the movie's "rules."  That doesn't happen here; Harrison seems to be mixing and messing with timelines and alternate versions of what happened the night of the murder, but he doesn't do it well.  Looking back, I can see what he was trying to do, but when it's frustrating in the moment, you've got problems.

It's a shame, really.  Courtney Cox gives a decent performance as Sophie, and considering what she has to work with, that's impressive.  Cox doesn't have great range, but she keeps us attuned to her character amidst all the gimmickry (including, and I'm not kidding about this, stuff that would make Andy Warhol proud).  James LeGros is handsome alright, but he's on the miscast side.  Nick Offerman continues to show dramatic chops in addition to the comic ones he is known for.  Anne Archer and Michael Ealy show up for a few scenes each.

This could have been a good movie.  It really could have been.  But no.  It's a piece of crap.

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