Aniston of the Week: She’s the One

We’re six weeks into our Aniston investigation and it turns out there’s a lot of the nineties still to get through. With that in mind, we delve into what might be deemed half an Aniston, where our favourite Friend doesn’t get the screen time she deserves.

FILM: She’s the Oneshe-s-the-one-1996-32972
DIRECTOR: Edward Burns
YEAR: 1996
Renee, seemingly of no profession.
Brothers Mickey (Edward Burns) and Francis (Michael McGlone) each have romantic ‘dilemmas’. Mickey recently returned from a three year trip he took to recover from breaking up with his fiancée Heather (Cameron Diaz), works as a cabbie and one day decides to marry a beautiful fare, named appropriately – Hope (Maxine Bahns) – when she asks him to drive her all the way to someone else’s wedding. Francis is a wall-street broker, married to Renee (Aniston), but having an affair with Heather. He berates Mickey constantly for not having financial success, despite being a miserable, cheating bastard. They take advice from their father, played by John Mahoney. So far, so nineties.

Aniston with Amanda Peet as Renee’s sister Molly

CHARACTER TRAITS: Renee is sharp, witty, kind and loyal to her husband.
Aniston is on pretty good form here, her comedic skills are used well in the scenes with Francis which expose his conservative views, consistently giving her the upper hand, though there’s little here to distinguish her from Rachel Green. She works hard to convince us that she’s still in love with Francis but doesn’t totally convince, mainly due to McGlone’s repetitive performance.

Michael McGlone as Francis and Edward Burns as Mickey

NOTES ON FILM: Diaz and Aniston are the only highlights here. They’re both confident, kind, assertive women, whose actions expose the asshole that is Francis. Which makes you wonder – why is this film about him? Also, Mickey isn’t that much better, yes he doesn’t cheat on anyone, but he has almost no presence, making his double act with McGlone one of absence and overbearing, the result of which is one frustrating film. Interestingly (or is it?) Burns seems to have directed another film before this also co-starring Bahns and McGlone, called The Brothers McMullen (1995), about three Irish-Catholic brothers. There’s also The Fitzgerald Family Christmas (2012), directed by Burns, also co-starring McGlone about a family and their problems. I would never have thought after seeing She’s the One, that I’d be dying for another TWO films from Burns about angsty brothers.
: Aniston all but disappears from the film in the last act, which is a major disappointment. More Aniston! Less Burns!

Aniston of the Week: Horrible Bosses

This week, a ‘comedy’ in which Aniston plays against type, demonstrates the ignorance and insensitivity of mainstream Hollywood. It’s hard to enjoy her obvious comic skill when it’s presented in such a problematic way. Nevertheless, C.I endures, and watches anyway.

Aniston as Dr Julia Harris

FILM: Horrible Bosses
DIRECTOR: Seth Gordon
Dr Julia Harris, Doctor of Dental Surgery.
Three men who hate their bosses but for various reason cannot quit their jobs, decide to murder them instead. Nick (Jason Bateman) works for Dave Harken, who insists he works all hours of the day for a promotion that doesn’t exist and makes it impossible for him to get another job. Kurt works for Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell), a coke addict, who uses his office as a sex den, seemingly. Aniston plays the boss of Dale (Charlie Day) whom she sexually harasses and blackmails.
Irresponsible, unethical, inappropriate, rapist (she undresses and puts Dale, and other patients in sexual positions whilst they’re unconscious, she grabs his penis against his will). The film labels her as a ‘Crazy Bitch.’

Aniston with Charlie Day as Dale

NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Aniston was celebrated for her portrayal of Julia, as it appeared she was playing against the ‘girl-next-door’ image she’d become known for. While it’s true that Aniston utterly convinces as the cruel, manipulative character she portrays, she’s also very much exploited for her attractiveness, which is a deeply problematic treatment of someone who harasses and violates her junior at work.
By all counts, Horrible Bosses is a truly terrible film. Three white men solicit advice from a black man to give them advice about how to kill their bosses. There are numerous gay jokes and rape jokes. Aniston’s entire character is demonstrable of how Hollywood enforces the notion that female on male rape is somehow a joke/a good thing/impossible. She’s made the object of a male gaze, and it’s constantly suggested that Dale should be grateful for the attention he’s getting from her because she’s so ‘hot’.

Horrible Bosses 2 Stills 2014 HD Wallpapers
L-R Jamie Foxx as Dean ‘Muthafucka’ Jones, Charlie Day as Dale, Jason Sudeikis as Kurt and Jason Bateman as Nick

Furthermore, though Dale confronts her, asking to work in a ‘rape free’ environment, it’s not the sexual harassment that’s presented as a problem for him, it’s the threat that Julia makes to tell his fiancée that they’ve slept together. The screenplay attempts to extracts laughs from a scenario in which a man is made to feels he’s unable to confide in his fiancée something that negatively affects his daily life. That’s not funny, it’s a tragedy. Finally, Aniston’s character is the only female to have any significant screen time – the rest are either naïve, unfaithful or exploited for a fat joke.

CONCLUSION: Apparently another rape scene was deleted from Horrible Bosses 2. Can’t wait to see what they left in.

Introducing: Aniston of the Week

I like Jennifer Aniston. A lot of people do, and some people are indifferent, I’m sure. Some who know me, may be aware that I’ve been planning to write about Ms Aniston for years now, due to my conviction that she’s one of Hollywood’s most talented actors, yet consistently underrated. Jennifer Aniston has been in some really bad films, and A LOT of useless romantic comedies, and every few years she acts in a ‘serious’ film, and audiences and critics alike rush to praise her performance as if she’s never really performed before. That’s my perception of Jennifer anyway. Apparently, she’s also appeared as the cover star of magazines more than any other actor. People say she has a ‘girl next door’ quality that is key to her appeal. I’m not sure if that’s true, I just think she’s brilliant to watch.

In order to really put this long-held conviction to the test, this week I’m introducing a new column: Aniston of the Week. Every week I’ll report on a different Aniston performance, which will mean viewing some films I’ve seen many times before, some I’m looking forward to and some I have until now avoided (perhaps because they also star Adam Sandler). This viewing will be in no particular order but will commit fully to my Aniston attraction. This week, the mainly lamented and long gestating 2015 Bogdanovich comedy.

FILM: She’s Funny That Way  1384870-thumb-300xauto-1200514
DIRECTOR: Peter Bogdanovich
YEAR: 2015
PLOT SUMMARY: Screwball comedy about a call girl named Izzy (Imogen Poots) playing a call girl in a play directed by one of her client’s (Owen Wilson) and written by her therapist’s (Aniston) boyfriend (Will Forte), who’s father (George Morfogen) is a private investigator following Izzy for another of her clients, the obsessed Judge Pendergast (Austin Pendleton). It’s basically a lot of backstage shenanigans.
CHARACTER TRAITS: Dr Jane is confident, assertive, judgemental of her clients and constantly breaking patient-doctor confidentiality.

NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Dr Jane’s character is key to the plot of She’s Funny That Way due to her habit of revealingshes-funny-that-way-dog-walk-clip-m4v-670 one patients problems to another, and Aniston seems to relish her tendency for rawness. She’s introduced having a fight with Forte’s Joshua Fleet on the street, pausing to shout at the annoying potential patient calling her mobile phone out of office hours (that pesky Judge). I particularly liked the line,  “Alright, I’m gonna change my tampon’’, which she says to the old judge while he’s in session with her. It’s a bit clunky – who says that?! But it demonstrates the character’s obliviousness and her self-confidence. Dr Jane doesn’t care what other people think of her, but she does judge them, and this contradiction is what makes her relatable and entertaining. Aniston is assured and controlled, making an (at first) very unlikeable character into the most interesting aspect of the film. While all the other characters slump into exactly the place you expect them to, Dr Jane remains the unpredictable element, seeming to have the most fun.

NOTES ON FILM: From a screenplay Bogdanovich wrote long ago with Louise Stratten, a long time in development and finally supported by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, whose own work demonstrates the influence of Bogdanovich’s earlier output. As a consequence the film has an unconsciously retro feel, and relies on some pretty fantastical plot points. If you love Bogdanovich (Noises Off, What’s Up Doc? The Last Picture Show), you’ll nevertheless appreciate it.

CONCLUSION: Aniston saves the day!