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BY DAVID BLUMENSTEIN
& JACOB ZHIVOV
May 28, 2003
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Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhal) is a 25-year old woman
who has recently been released from an institution. She has some self-esteem
(and self-abuse) problems, but turns out to be a good typist and looks
for a job. She comes upon a lawyer, Mr. Grey, 42, (James Spader) who
just happens to need a new secretary. Lee comes in as the former secretary
leaves in tears.
It's funny that ever since Meg Ryan got too old to do
normal romantic films that writers are now using the strangest of
characters for their love stories. Secretary, like Punch Drunk Love,
shows us that there must be someone for everyone out there as these
two very weird people can find each other and live happily ever after.
Hey, they could put Meg Ryan in a film like this. In
fact, they did. She was in a "fucked-up" romantic comedy
called "Addicted To Love" with Matthew Broderick. Of course,
that film was "fucked-up" in a very bland, mainstream way.
You couldn't expect real weirdness from a film named after a Robert
What I missed from Secretary was character development.
We find from the start that Lee is released from an institute and
that she has a problem cutting herself but we never learn much more
than that. We never learn why Mr Grey is like he is, this does give
us some air of mystery to him but there are no real hints to his motivation
or cause of his behaviour.
I thought all that was a good thing. You don't need
to know why Mr Grey is so closed off. We don't need long boring scenes
explaining why Lee cuts herself. We can figure these things out for
ourselves if we want to, and the acting is good enough that who the
hell cares? Maggie Gyllenhaal is excellent in this. James Spader is
very good too. One might say he overplays a little bit, but I'm in
a good mood, so I won't.
This is a very strange love story.
Well, S&M is not for everybody.
JAKE'S HOLY VERDICT
Punch Drunk Love: ***
Joe Versus the Volcano: **1/2
Mitch returns early from a conference to find his live-in
girlfriend cheating on him. After he dumps her and moves out to a
new place near a university, he and his friends Beanie (Vince Vaughn)
and Frank (Will Ferrell) decide to start a fraternity -- hijinks ensue.
He's not kidding. They really do.
Look, this film follows the traditional Rodney Dangerfield
formula for a college film. From the rampant nudity to the evil dean
to the good guys triumphing over the evil dean's plans to throw them
out, this film has nothing new to add to the genre. It is a college
comedy after all.
Now, saying that, this film follows the formula quite
well and gives us some very good and funny moments while parodying
films like Fight Club.
I laughed a lot during this film and enjoyed the stupidity.
Yeah, it's pretty funny. It's not Animal House, but
then I'm sure Wilson, Vaughn and Ferrell would admit they're not John
Belushi. I like them all in this, though. They play their usual roles
-- straight guy, sleaze and nutjob, respectively -- with a result
of Wacky Fun . And while he didn't mention it, I know Jake was
as pleased as I was to see Elisha Cuthbert's lovely (non-naked) butt,
as well as the rest of her.
Old School: ****
Back to School: ***1/2
Stars: James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Release Date: May 29, 2003
Running Time: 104 minutes
Showing: In selected cinemas
Starring: Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Jeremy Piven
Release Date: May 29, 2003
Running Time: 90 minutes