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For a Good Time Call

Two New York Jewesses (Lauren Miller and Ari Graynor) start their own phone sex service in this lightweight but basically enjoyable chick flick. The film is plenty nasty, but in a matter-of-fact way that may leave male viewers wanting something harder-edged and rowdier, as at heart this is a film about female friendship and sisterhood. Miller and Graynor are fine in the leads, as is high-energy Justin Long as the obligatory stereotypical gay guy friend. Viewers may wish, however, that the grubby cameos by Seth Rogen and Kevin Smith had been expanded into full-fledged supporting roles, as the movie verges dangerously on an estrogen overdose.

3 out of 5 stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that For a Good Time, Call . . . is:

7. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation. New York City appears as an orderly multiracial metropolis. Admiring references are made to a “Peruvian boy” and “hot Asian guys.” Dark-colored dildos (one named Earl) make more than one appearance.

6. Pro-drug. Katie (Graynor) and Lauren (Miller) both smoke marijuana. While hard drinking results in foolish behavior, vomiting, and increased risk of rape (which receives somewhat irreverent mention), more responsible imbibing carries no consequences.

5. Anti-Christian. Krissy (Sugar Lyn Beard), a promising phone sex hiree, turns out to be an undercover Christian missionary who tries to shame the callers into repentance. “We’re Jews,” Katie proclaims defiantly as she and Lauren give Krissy her walking papers. Jesse and Katie, both living it up at a debauched college party, are revealed to have met in a religious studies class.

4. Anti-family. “It’s not so bad being alone.” Lauren’s parents keep her finances under surveillance, and Katie speaks dismissively of their controlling anal retention: “Your rich parents from Long Island, they cut your sandwich into cute little four squares until you went to prep school.” Katie, after first expressing a sentimental wish to retain her grandmother’s furnishings in their apartment, later decides, “Fuck Grandma. Can I get us that new couch?” A jailed dyke complains of phone sex being “more depressing than the macaroni necklace my kid sends me.”

3. Pro-gay/pro-castration, extolling the sensitive, effeminized man, particularly in the characters of wimpy phone sex aficionado Sean (Mark Webber) and homosexual Jesse (Justin Long), who proves that a girl’s best friend is the man who never wants to have sex with her – something, in short, like an unusually well-behaved dog.

2. Capitalist/corporate. “You ladies are living some fucked-up version of the American Dream.” For a Good Time, Call . . . thus celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit. That it characterizes business as whoring might be construed as a criticism if not for the fact that this film champions the slut ideal. In a crude instance of product placement, Jesse compliments Lauren by telling her, “You’re like a Subway gift card.” The integrity of meritocracy is dealt a blow, however, when a job opening is said to have been filled through nepotism.

1.Feminist/pro-slut. Roach spray works in place of Mace, the implication being that men are predatory, noxious insects. One reference is made to venereal disease, but women mostly discuss their anatomy without an ounce of shame. “I’m a slut,” Lauren reflects after her first phone sex. “Is it okay I’m a slut?” “Yeah,” Katie approves, “a slut that made $800 in one night.” Sexual inexperience is a source of shame for Katie, whom Lauren insults as an “insecure virgin”. Also, “We should probably, like, have sex before we live together.” Ironically, however, the film also illustrates the destructive outcomes of feminism in its portrait of a generation of disenfranchised men who, owing to the personally scabrous, unfeminine, and biologically contaminated nature of the women around them, prefer the safety of sanitary remote stimulation to physical interaction with them.

Gloria poster

Full disclosure. Your humble reviewer, stopping on a whim at his neighborhood Redbox machine to see what was newly available, quickly picked Gloria for no other reason than the disclaimer that it contained graphic nudity. Not realizing that this would be a serious foreign film requiring him to read subtitles, he ate his movie vegetables, as it were, by accident.

Set in Santiago, Chile, Gloria is the story of a lonely divorcee (Paulina Garcia), a professional woman and recent grandmother, who finds herself torn between dignity and sexual fulfillment. Somewhat nerdy but still shapely and graceful in her maturity, Gloria thinks she may have met the answer to her quiet yearnings in paintball park proprietor Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez), a man who gives increasing evidence of neurosis.

Gloria very much belongs to lead Paulina Garcia, a fascinating actress whose versatile face and nuanced expressions command the viewer’s undivided attention. Even had the script by director Sebastian Lelio and Gonzalo Maza not been so finely worked and surprising, the film would be worth seeing if only for the presence of Paulina Garcia. Eccentric, disturbing, and warmly human, Gloria gets this critic’s high recommendation.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Gloria is:

10. New Age. Gloria takes a yoga lesson.

9. Marginally pro-miscegenation. Gloria’s daughter Ana (Fabiola Zamora) is involved with a Swede (Eyal Meyer), which is arguably a mild instance of interracial relationship. However, Chileans, particularly those living in Santiago, are of predominantly European descent, and resemble Spaniards in their attractiveness.

8. Anti-Christian. Gloria tries to hide her condescension as her maid (Luz Jimenez) talks about the Genesis flood and tells a story about cats issuing from a lion.

7. Racist! Gloria and Rodolfo, practicing at a firing range, shoot at a target representing a “black figure”.

6. Drug-ambivalent. Marijuana plays a role in Gloria’s new assertiveness. Her tobacco habit takes on varying shades of character depending upon the emotional context – sultry and sophisticated smoking after sex, or an anxious person’s prop in her moments of doubt. One smoker is reminded not to light up in the presence of a pregnant woman. Humiliation, despair, and overindulgence in drink drive Gloria into the arms of a random slob for a degrading one-night stand.

5. Anti-marriage. The protagonist’s ex-husband (Alejandro Goic) is an undependable drunkard. Rodolfo, like Gloria, is relieved to “finally” be divorced. Ana, a happy tramp with a pierced nose, is unashamedly pregnant with her Swedish lover’s bastard.

4. Anti-family/antinatalist. “Don’t be born, man! Don’t be born!” despairs one of Gloria’s neighbors. Rodolfo’s wife and daughters are selfish, needy, ungrateful nuisances. Gloria’s family, too, is broken.

3. Misandrist. A vengeful Gloria appropriates her insensitive lover’s phallus by attacking him with one of his own paintball guns. The men in her life are all immature. “Grow a pair,” she tells Rodolfo.

2. Anti-capitalistic. Old Chilean radicals look to loud young rabble to effect progressive change. Gloria’s idea of excitement would be to skip work and travel to Cuba. The film also presents an unflattering portrait of an entrepreneur in Rodolfo. (see also no. 1).

1. Anti-Semitic! “What Chile used to be now seems like a ghost, as if that Chile were dead, and what was built afterwards is a kind of replica of something that’s being devised in some other part of the world, where the driving force is greed.” “There aren’t any leaders anymore [. . .] if it’s about politicians who are up there, and they’re the ones governing, the ones that were chosen.”

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