Thursday, June 19, 2014

Riske Business: Beautiful People in Movies

by Adam Riske
There is nothing more distracting than a beautiful woman -- especially in a movie.

When I am crushing on an actress in a movie, I can concentrate on little else. I feel guilty about that. I lose track of plot. My bearings are thrown off as to whether or not the actress is giving a good performance. This leads me to some questions.

Am I being sexist or lascivious? Should I be more objective? Should I be acknowledging these feelings when assessing a performance or a movie itself or should I push my natural feelings aside? In short, how should I deal with SKOWs?
What is a SKOW? A SKOW stands for Some Kind of Wonderful. SKOWs are actresses who render me powerless to their charms, whether it is that they’re cute, sexy, charismatic funny, sweet, irresistible or simply just interesting for one reason or another. Sometimes a SKOW is an actress overall, while other times it’s just an actress in a particular role (e.g. Gemma Arterton in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters). I am often SKOWd. It’s an affliction. It’s embarrassing.

SKOWs can lift the quality of a movie by nature of their sheer presence. You know those 2-1/2 star movies where you can’t decide if they are good (3 star) or just OK (2 star)? SKOWs can be the tie breaker that tips that scale. But as I said before, that makes me feel guilty because I might not be paying attention to the right things. After all, I don’t get railroaded by how great Ralph Fiennes is in The Grand Budapest Hotel, so why should I for Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars? Shouldn’t I judge a performance from an actress I’m crushing on in the same manner as I do from someone I am not?

But first, let’s talk about the distraction of SKOWs. They can make you identify with the male leads in odd ways, i.e. you identify with the actors in the movie because you are vicariously trying to get the girl. The guy becomes my Adamtar and ceases to exist as a character.
Sometimes SKOWs breed competition. An example for me was in the movie Ella Enchanted. At the time, my girlfriend looked somewhat similar to Anne Hathaway, so I was all pissed off at the male romantic lead in that movie because he was trying to steal my woman. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about Ella Enchanted or the performances because I turned that puffy little movie into a herculean battle of wills with Hugh fucking Dancy.
SKOWs can turn you into a slave to an actress’ entire filmography. In the late '90s and early 2000s, I had to see every Kirsten Dunst movie. She charmed me. I can’t explain it. I even took off work one night so as not to interfere with the opening of Crazy/Beautiful, which I saw by myself. I was too embarrassed to ask any friends to go with me. I couldn’t tell you if the movie is good or if she is good in it because I was in the throes of full blown Dunst crush and that’s all I could see. As the summer of 2001 wore on, I would break a little while talking movies with my friends. I would be all “You know what was actually pretty good? Crazy/Beautiful….” Following a long pause, my friends would say “You saw Crazy/Beautiful?” I would answer “I was on a date and you know...that’s what SHE WANTED TO SEE.” “Who did you go on a date with?” “Char...Char…Charla…Charlamagne????” See? SKOWs can get you into trouble!
SKOWs can hurt your eyes sometimes. It's like staring at the sun. When I saw Transformers in the theaters, I remember thinking that Megan Fox was so sexy that all I wanted was to watch her. I didn’t give a damn about robots in disguise anymore. Fuck my inner child! I’m a man, baby, and I have desires. I just wanted a split screen where one half was the movie and the other half was just Megan Fox doing stuff, no matter how mundane. Another example was the first time I saw Margot Robbie in About Time. I had trouble looking at the screen almost because she was so beautiful. She made the attractive Rachel McAdams resemble a hobo.
These things happen. It’s natural. So I go back to my questions. Am I being sexist or lascivious? No. I’m not interrupting the movie to yell out “hard cock!” Should I be more objective? Perhaps, but where’s the fun in that? It’s like being a food critic and saying you don’t appreciate the look of strawberries when your favorite color is red. And finally, and most important to me as a developing movie critic, should I be factoring these things into my critiques? The answer to that I think is yes because I AM being critical as to why I’m getting SKOWd.

Before I wrote this column, I asked Patrick if I should write it for fear of being off-putting or slimy to our female readers. His answer was a breath of fresh air. He said “Isn’t that a part of why we go to the movies? Because we fall in love with movie stars and get to see their faces projected on huge screens?” Yes, it is Bromley! Yes it is! Thank you for validating my distraction with SKOWs. After talking with Patrick, I was feeling pretty good about no longer feeling guilty on the subject. I decided to test it with one other person: my father, you know…Mr. Riske. He reminded me of his answer when I once asked him how to tell if someone is giving a good performance in a movie. He answered “Are they interesting or fun to watch?” And that’s all it is. SKOWs are interesting and fun to watch. So if you are seeing an actor or an actress and think that he/she’s cute, sexy, charismatic funny, sweet, irresistible or simply just interesting for one reason or another, factor those feelings into your take on their performance. They are honest feelings and it would be silly to ignore them.
SKOWs are just one great part of going to the movies. They make everything better. I will no longer feel guilty about SKOWs and will call them out going forward because being called a SKOW is a compliment.

Where’s the Tylenol?

Your turn! How do you feel about SKOWs? Who are yours?

21 comments:

  1. Eva Green. She is the reason I want to see "300: Rise of an Empire". And I really didn't like "300".

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    1. She was the reason I went to 300 Rise on an Empire. I walked out of the movie though. It was super boring. I love Eva Green. She's like scary spice.

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  2. The most recent one has to be Margot Robbie from Wolf of Wall Street. How beauty was so overwhelming that it was honestly difficult for me to even concentrate on many of the scenes involving her. Holy crap is she ever gorgeous.

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  3. I'll probably be alone on this one, but it's getting to be Emma Watson. I don't know what it is, but I just find her both attractive and great to watch the more she does outside of the Harry Potter franchise. For instance, she was by far my favorite part of Noah.

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  4. Sherilyn Fenn forever. Yep, even now. Most recent - Daddario (who doesn't like her?!) and Sarah Jones (Just wait - she is going to blow up).

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  5. hmm Shailene Woodley and Emma Watson are kind of on my list but the only SKOW who can really get me to forget things is Natalie Portman. I know she's not great in everything but anytime a movie of hers comes on I'm pretty immune to the movies faults (unless its just the WORST). I think in general ladies appreciate it when men find them physically attractive so Adam if your being cool about it I think you'll be ok. It's like what Sean William Scott said in the underrated Role Models "Never stare at the boobies, once you get caught the game's over. Be aware without drawing attention"

    And if you really need to scream "Hard Cock" at a movie may I reccommend searching for this website on Google with the safety search off. :)

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  6. I can definitely relate, for one reason: Texas Chainsaw. I'm very aware that Texas Chainsaw is probably a bad movie, but Alexandra Daddario is so ridiculously gorgeous I am completely unable to retain my sense of logic and common sense.

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    1. Yeah, I saw her in Hall Pass and was like "who is that???!!!!"

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  7. Personally I'm more prone to falling in love with a SKOW in a particular movie - I guess that makes my love more performance-based and therefore a little less shallow? Yeah, I'm pretty awesome.

    You nailed it with Jennifer Fox in Transformers - there's more than meets the eye...IN MY PANTS. Jennifer Fox in This is 40? Pass the Viagra. Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook? Let's dance! J-Law in The Hunger Games? Go kill someone else. Amy Adams in American Hustle? Take all of my money. Amy Adams in Man of Steel? Goddamn, Henry Cavill is handsome.

    I asked my lovely wife, my one and only SKOW 4 Life, and hers is Brad Pitt, which is a good thing cuz we're practically twins.

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    1. Hee hee, you remembered the important part of her name, but it's actually Megan Fox.

      I guess I'm more turned off my SKOW's in movies. It actively annoys me how supermodel-y all the female roles are, so having an uber hot lead doesn't save a movie. Especially when the character is only there to be super hot and distract from how terrible the movie is. (Megan Fox in Transformers)

      So I agree with you. There has to be more to the role or I am disinterested (or maybe even annoyed)

      Except for hot dudes. I think I can forgive a shallow, hunky portrayal easier. Not sure why. Perhaps because Hollywood has gotten me used to leads who are valued for things besides acting talent, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean Claude Van Damme, and other action stars. If they have a smidgen of charisma, it can be enough.

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    2. Oh jeez - I kinda knew something didn't seem right there - just looking at her kills brain cells.

      And yeah, I can see there being a double-standard when it comes to male actors, especially in the action genre.

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    3. In all fairness, she was in a movie called Jennifer's Body, so maybe that's what you were thinking of. I'd go with that excuse.

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    4. That's it exactly, John! Seriously, when am I NOT thinking of Jennifer's Body?

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    5. Or at least one particular scene from Jennifer's Body, amiright?...

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  8. It probably took Michael Bay a few years to remember her name. So at least you're well ahead of him.

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  9. Not sure if I am too late to join in here but I tend to be quite vocal about who my SKOWs are in conversation. It is very fun and I don't think it is anything to be ashamed of. Everybody has movie crushes! If they say they don't they are either A sexual or lying. Times are changing for the better as I can say 'Sally Hawkins marry me' on twitter and not get any homophobic bullshit in response. I just came back from Edge of tomorrow and it is fair to say Emily Blunt is one of my SKOW's haha.

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    1. I know, right? Emily Blunt = whoa :-)

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  10. This post raises interesting points on a several different levels. It seems like casts for U.S. productions continue to get prettier. When watching international productions and older movies/TV, I often get the impression that many supporting cast members would have a hard time finding work in today's Hollywood.

    There was a time when it seemed like the primary distinction between cinema and TV was an obligatory love scene. This seems to have waned somewhat with the ubiquity of internet pr0n and the drive for PG-13 ratings.

    Another thought-provoking point: Why do people go to the movies? After running the numbers on 686 releases from 2013, I concluded that there is only a minor correlation between viewer ratings and boxoffice revenue. Why do we keep spending good money on bad movies?

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