Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Go": Merry X-mas

The 1999 crime comedy, Go, is a guilty pleasure holiday DVD rental of mine.  Doug Liman, director of the hipster hit "Swingers," followed that film with this one.  Sarah Polley has a lead role as Ronna, whose youth and vitality are leaking out of her like milk in a damaged carton at the Los Angeles supermarket where she has a drab job as a clerk.  Two cute guys at the market want to score for Ecstasy (X-TC) for Christmas Eve.  This drug deal is told from three different perspectives that, like "Swingers," take you from L.A. to Vegas.  Of course, everything that could go wrong does go wrong.  So much so that this movie could've been called "It's A Blunder-Full Life." Blonde, slim Polley is not a movie star. But her deadpan, Dorothy Parker-"What fresh hell is this?"-attitude as the overworked, underpaid, unappreciated Ronna won me over right away.  You totally understand why she'd have that lapse of logic and get involved with an X-TC sale.  On Christmas Eve, of all nights.  That's life in the low-rent section of L.A.  One minute, you're handling canned goods and coupons.  The next, you're in your bra  so men you don't know can see that you're not wearing a wire for a drug bust.

Canadian Sarah Polley fascinates me.  She's a member of a very distinguished group of Women In Film. This group started with Dorothy Arzner and her 1930 Paramount film, "Sarah and Son."  Like Dorothy Arzner, Jane Campion ("The Piano"), Patty Jenkins ("Monster"), Debra Granik ("Winter's Bone") and Nora Ephron ("Julie & Julia"), Sarah Polley directed a woman to a Best Actress Award Award nomination.  Polley directed 1965 Oscar® winner Julie Christie to her fourth Oscar nomination.  Christie played a wife whose husband is dealing with her Alzheimer's diagnosis in "Away From Her."  Polley also adapted the 2006 screenplay from a short story by Alice Munro.  In Go, I feel that her performance as Ronna sets the tone for the rest of the picture.  The cast includes Timothy Olyphant as the shirtless, sexy drug-holding party boy who could be both menacing and innocent wearing a Santa hat.  Olyphant has skills at playing guys who stride along that dangerous edge yet also seem to have a touch of screwball comedy daft about them.  In this film, there is a screwball comedy couple, of sorts.  Jay Mohr and Scott Wolf as men in search of Ecstasy.  They're also two clueless closeted gay actors who have to perform community service.  There is an extremely awkward Christmas dinner involving those two that just breaks me up laughing every time.  The background music, Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from "The Nutcracker," is just too perfect.  The angel on that fake tree of a scene.  One of the big reasons why this is a guilty pleasure holiday favorite.

Katie Holmes stars in this 1999 movie.  At the time, she was the "It" girl -- getting the big attention and the star build-up.  There's also a bit player in Go.  She had only a few lines in one brief scene as a giggly friend.  Brief but memorable.  Today, Melissa McCarthy is the "It" girl, thanks to a breakout supporting comedy performance in the hit movie, Bridesmaids,  followed by an Emmy win for the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly among her 2011 credits.  If you want to see something more naughty than nice for your yuletide movie entertainment, consider renting this.  Also, if you're working on any sort of project about Women In Film, keep Sarah Polley in mind.  More people should know about her accomplishments.  Merry Christmas.


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