Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Box.

The Box, 2009, directed and written by Richard Kelly.

"A small wooden box arrives on the doorstep of a married couple, who know that opening it will grant them a million dollars and kill someone they don't know." (IMDB).

I'm sure everyone probably knows this already, but this feature film is based on a short story that was originally made into a (new) Twilight Zone episode, Button, Button in the late eighties. I came across a pretty sweet blogger who has the original youtube posted, if you're interested in seeing it; Mare Winningham (Wendy, wearer of the scuba-suit support hose from Saint Elmo's Fire) stars as the wife.

The Jaded Viewer

So really, I didn't hate this as much as I thought I would. I very nearly had to get up and walk around when Norma (Cameron Diaz) first opened her mouth, number one, a southern accent, and number two, a teacher of philosophy? CAMERON DIAZ AND SARTRE? Please. And her playing a mother is probably the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life; the woman from Throw Mama From The Train is more maternal than Cameron Diaz. She's very pretty though, prettier in this than probably anything else I've seen her in. And after a while the bad southern didn't bother me anymore, probably because it was disguising her normal grating voice, so it kind of ended up working, you know?

I also liked a lot of the mise en scene; this takes place in 1976, so there was plenty of patterned wallpaper, which (secretly) I love. Norma has a scene where she's putting hot rollers in her hair, fun!
The story is . . . interesting, I'll say that. And while I appreciate trying to incorporate something awesome (The TZ) into a bigger picture, drawing on events from the writer's own life, I think he really bit off more than he could chew with this whole thing.

1. The Box Story
2. The Planet Mars business
3. The disfigured man a link between them?

It got too ridiculous near the end. And they kept changing their own rules and adding more and more layers to something that was already a little far-fetched. I think the original story worked simply because less was more. The guy dropped off the box, they pushed the button, he picked it up, "AND NOW I'M GIVING IT TO SOMEONE YOU DON'T KNOW." The End. We didn't know how he knew they pushed it, we didn't know where the box came from and we didn't need to--it would have been unnecessary. I realize that in order to flesh a 20 minute short out into a full length film they needed to take some liberties in extending the plot a little, and I give him full marks for being interesting, I suppose, but I just didn't really dig it all that much.

P.S. A few good friends and I redid our own version of The Box for an eleventh grade English project; one ending had a Scooby-Doo "meddling kids" twist with a completely random character we made up by the name of June Monday. I was the box-deliverer, three friends were button-pushers, and one other was the unfortunate victim, decorating a Christmas tree singing a St. Nicholas Day song my German Teacher Mother taught us the year before. She ended up biting it right after "Lustig, lustig, tra-la-la-la-la." It was a good time.


Donald said...

"the woman from Throw Mama From The Train is more maternal than Cameron Diaz"

Good line.

What's with your hatred of Diaz? I'm going to risk ruining our friendship here, but I don't think she's a bad actress at all. I find her to be perfectly ok. I haven't seen this movie, however.

Anna said...


you are smarter than me, and you're funnier than me, and you're better read and have a better handle on what's good cinematically, so I'm just going to
DISREGARD what you've just written.

any given sunday
vanilla sky
Gangs of New York.

she's awful. she's like a poison, an infection. i can't believe you're doing this to me.

Donald said...

I thought she was good in Any Given Sunday and tolerable -- certainly no worse than any of the other ridiculous, over the top performances in Gangs of New York. In fact, I think her performance was a lot more subtle and nuanced than Daniel Day Lewis's completely over the top nonsense.

I will admit that she is better suited to comedy. She was perfectly cast in There's Something About Mary, and she was very charming in Charlie's Angels. She's not my favorite actress or anything, I just don't think she's worth hating.

But I will agree on the fact that I'm smarter and funnier than you are.

Anna said...

i'm guessing you probably saw any given sunday only once and probably a very long time ago. she's horrid in it and makes the entire film shitty.

doesn't she attempt an accent in Gangs of New York? COME ON.

she's very worth hating. she only gets work because she's attractive, tall, and has a huge joker-smile.

Donald said...

I actually liked Any Given Sunday, and even though it was about five hours long, Diaz was in maybe fifteen minutes of it. And she wasn't that bad!

And, yeah, her accent was bad in Gangs of New York, just like every other actor in that movie, except for Liam Neeson.

Jess B. said...

I loved this movie. However, I think part of my love has do with the director (who also did Donnie Darko). I think with the ending, he was definitely try to input his views on time/space travel (which was the running theme in Donnie Darko). Plus, it left me thinking about it the next day, which is usually a good mark of a movie to me.

Elyssa said...

I can't believe Cameron Diaz is even on anyone's radar. I forget (often) that she even exists in the world, let alone that she acts in movies. I mean, I don't hate her, but I would definitely not waste my time hating her. I agree with Anna that the only reason she gets gigs is because she's pretty.

Oh my GOD, I hate Donnie Darko. The only decent scene in that entire movie is the dinner table scene (fuck ass). Time/space correlation? I am not wasting my time on that SHIT when I can watch Back to the Future where time and space actually rock and is not plagued by those Gyllanskjdskljds (okay, JAKE is HOT, but also not very much on my radar and the reason his hids sister in on my radar is because she married Peter Sarsgaard and I love him and hate her worse because of it).

I've never seen this actual movie you are even writing about, so... I don't know why I am commenting... sorry.

Elyssa said...

And is the guy in the movie (from picture) Scott Summers from XMen? He's decent.

Anna said...

i have to try Donnie Darko. Like I said, I give the director credit, he wrote and directed and I think he knows what he's doing (he's young, 34).

Donald said...

I second the opinion that Donnie Darko was a waste of time. Neat movie with some clever ideas, but boring as hell and ultimately pointless.

Also, I will admit that one of the reasons why I like Cameron Diaz is because I want to bang her, but since when is that a crime?

That Chick who likes to Procreate said...

this man/woman thing comes up frequently, i think, and i get that most men want to bang cameron diaz. if i was a guy, banging THAT, i would have to insist that she not make any noises at all, because if i heard that voice i would probably have to get up and leave.

Donald said...

I think Cameron Diaz has done more for the stature of women in film than has Quentin Tarantio.

Suck on that, TV Lady.

Anna said...


You're dead to me.

Anna said...

and if you're referring to shaking one's ass in hot pants, being stupid and annoying, and basically being a GLORY HOLE, then you're probably right.

you broke my heart, fredo.

Donald said...

Oh shit.

You know what you're problem is? You're a misogynist.

Anna said...

because i'd leave a fictitious sex session with cameron diaz because her voice is annoying?

Elyssa said...

Bang factor and talent do not correlate. I think what you're getting at is, "I like that she's in movies because I can stare at her all day and fantasize about banging her, so YEAH, put Cameron in that role!"

I can't even think of anything to compare this to, as I don't watch many new movies, so I can't think of an actor who is super shitastic but I only watch him because I want to bang him. For me, sex appeal goes up when I know you have shit going on for you, and in this instance, if you're homely, but can act (sing), guaranteed I appreciate that and have thought about banging you once or twice.

And let's be honest, if I was a guy, I don't think there would be any reason I'd kick Cameron Diaz out of bed. Her laugh would be annoying, but hey, I'd tolerate it. She IS hot. And I can see her being kinky. So, I guess that trumps it? I am still bitter she banged Justin Timberlake for so long, though, so I still hate her.

Donald said...

"because i'd leave a fictitious sex session with cameron diaz because her voice is annoying?"

No, because 99% of your criticisms of Cameron Diaz objectify her as a woman.

And I never said that I only like Cameron Diaz because she's hot. I simply said that was one of the reasons.

Donald said...

Time for Anna to review a new movie. We've exhausted this topic I think. The final results are: I win, you lose ;-)