Tag: daryl wein

Lola Versus

Lola Versus (2012)
★★ / ★★★★

Everything appears to be going well. After weeks of planning their wedding, Luke (Joel Kinnaman) and Lola (Greta Gerwig), who met junior year in college while studying abroad, are set to partake in one of the most important days of their lives. However, a day before their wedding, Luke confesses to Lola that he just doesn’t feel ready. Heartbroken, Lola moves out of their apartment and attempts to reset her life. This proves especially difficult because as she spent a decade nourishing a relationship that she thought would last forever, the world she thought she still knew is now completely different.

Based on the screenplay by Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones, “Lola Versus” is yet another story about a newly single woman trying to recover from a bad break-up, but it has just enough off-kilter sense of humor and honesty to be considered somewhat believable.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed that Lola, as quirky as she is, is slightly annoying because her negative qualities make her less cute and more interesting. If the protagonist had been written as a typical sweet girl who did everything the “right” way, it would have made Lola a victim. We would have felt sorry for her most of the time instead of wanting to reach into the screen and shake some sense into her.

I also enjoyed the idea that people in their pre-30s can very well act like teenagers. Sure, adults are more mature in plenty of ways, but a handful of pre-30s that I know are not immune from acting out like children once in a while. This idea is reflected by the bipolar dialogue. For instance, conversations between Lola and Alice (Zoe Lister Jones), the riotously funny best friend, start out slowly and calmly then suddenly we find ourselves barraged by sitcom-like words of wisdom that feel completely out of place yet nonetheless hilarious.

However, about halfway through, I started to wonder if the material had more ambition in its bones. While it remains close to the theme of Lola constantly wanting men by her side (Kinnaman, Hamish Linklater, Ebon Moss-Bachrach), defining her existence around them, her interactions with them fail to reach a sense of variation not in terms of personalities on screen but mood. We rarely get the feeling that she is torn among these men without the camera having to rely on putting Lola front and center while looking sad.

Furthermore, since Lola’s scenes with them are not given appropriate time to unfold or relay the messages that need to expressed, a lot of the scenes feel unnecessary. The sitcom-like comedy sprinkled in between eventually works against the film because situations begin to feel exactly that of a sitcom—boring, superficial, and expected.

Directed by Daryl Wein, “Lola Versus” is playfully intelligent at its best, its one-liners sure to draw a smile on the viewers’ faces, but unbearably eager to be dramatic at its worst. Certainly there are better ways to communicate shame and resentment without showing our protagonist naked and crying just after unexceptional sex.

Sex Positive

Sex Positive (2008)
★★★ / ★★★★

Prior to this film, I didn’t know who Richard Berkowitz was. I decided to watch the documentary because I’m always interested in learning more about diseases and their impact in society. In “Sex Positive,” directed by Daryl Wein, the focus was on Berkowitz’ contribution in promoting safe sex in order to protect everyone, especially the members of the gay community, from transmitting different factors that could promote AIDS. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the credit he deserved. What I enjoyed about this movie was it was essentially about activists of the LGBT community disagreeing about elements of a certain issue–the mechanisms regarding how one can get the infection, prevention, and the relationship between promiscuity and the epidemic. Most of the documentaries I’ve seen about AIDS and homosexuality were from heterosexuals’ perspective so it was a nice to observe and listen to the issue from a different angle. The documentary felt personal and sometimes too revealing because we got to learn about Berkowitz’ sexual history. There were some outtakes in which he was reluctant to talk about his history with S&M because he wanted to focus on the issue of activism and promoting health. Those outtakes were important for me to see because it showed me that Berkowitz was more than hustler. He deeply cared about his community and he was willing to go great lengths in promoting safe sex, sex positivism, which was the middle-ground between two camps: anti-sex (celibacy) and pro-sex (sex without using protection at all). He also highlighted the roles of our choices and our personal responsibilities in terms of sex, that our lives are in our hands and we should always be aware of the consequences. However, I thought the documentary was a little too short and too quick with the facts. Specifically, I wanted to know more about progress (if any) of promoting safe sex in the late 80’s. I felt as though the movie only covered the early 80’s up and the early 90’s. I also wanted to know more about the papers Berkowitz published about sex and the LGBT community while he was in college although the movie did spotlight the fascinating pamphlet “How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach.” Toward the end, Berkowitz providing insight by revealing certain statistics was simply icing on the cake. “Sex Positive” is a solid documentary with a very interesting subject and I highly recommend it. I just think it needed an extra thirty to forty minutes to develop some ideas so it wouldn’t have felt as rushed.