Blake Lively & Anna Kendrick’s Upcoming Movie Is Seriously Inspiring Our Reads Right Now!
By Martin Aguilera
Anna Kendrick is the business. The awkward, sprightly actress has delighted us for years, ever since she became a scene-stealer in the Twilight franchise, where she played Kristen’s Stewart’s mile-a-minute, overbearing friend. It wasn’t long before Hollywood casting agents took notice, and it seems that within a few short years Anna evolved as a new kind of leading lady; a breath of fresh air in a cinematic landscape full off artificial perfection. Her co-starring role opposite George Clooney in 2009’s Up in the Air earned her an Academy Award nomination, and it’s been nonstop for her since then.
Anna Kendrick has been in leading or supporting roles in a handful of critically-acclaimed movies, both big studio projects and small independent films, making her one of the few actresses of her generation who’ve got a lot of street cred in both. She even wrote a hilarious and acclaimed collection of autobiographical essays in 2017 called Scrappy Little Nobody which was published to widespread acclaim. The pinnacle of her awesomeness came when she got her very own giant Hollywood franchise: Pitch Perfect. The trilogy – a huge worldwide hit – went on to make a lot of money, but also began the conversation about the marketability and profitability of female-driven cinema long before our current conversation about equality in the cultural landscape.
This fall, we get to see Anna Kendrick take on a darker role, perhaps her darkest to date, in the Paul Feig directed adaptation of Darcey Bell’s novel A Simple Favor, where Kendrick stars alongside Blake Lively and hottie Henry Golding in what is surely one of the most “mean girl” of the wave of domestic thrillers that have dominated the book industry since the publication of the phenomenon that was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. In A Simple Favor, Kendrick plays Stephanie Smothers, an oddball single mom with a tragic past who spends a lot of her free time vlogging, until she meets elegant, stylish fashinoista mom Emily Nelson (Blake Lively). Both women form a bond and a friendship that takes a sinister turn when Emily disappears, and is ultimately presumed dead. But is she? What follows is a dark, strange tale down the complex corridors of female rage, the unhealthy obsession with “perfect” mothering, and nasty primitive appetites.
A Simple Favor feels like a good old-fashioned thriller, the type of movies that were made in the late 1980s and through the 1990s and books published in the 1970s/1980s as well: sophisticated adult entertainments where the exploration of relationships between grownups (with a healthy dollop of aberrant sex!) were at the heart of darkness of each of those stories. While we wait for Anna to show us a darker shade of her bouncy personality, here are a few movies and books that, like A Simple Favor, are sure to keep you riveted.
This is the novel that scandalized France and became an international #1 bestseller upon its publication. It tells the story of a hipster, yuppie couple in Paris who hires who they deem to be the perfect nanny, until Louise begins to show signs that she may not be the person they thought she was. It begins with one of the most shocking scenes in contemporary fiction, and it’s the structure of the novel, which backtracks to show us how we got to that, that keeps us turning the pages at a breakneck speed.
Bound (Written and directed by The Wachowskis)
The directing debut of siblings Lana and Lilly Wachowski, starring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon in career-defining roles, Bound is the story of two women in a toxic world of men. Recently released from prison, Corky (Gina Gershon) befriends her neighbor Violent (Jennifer Tilly), and the friendship quickly becomes a steamy love affair, complicated by the fact that Violet is the girlfriend of an emotionally-unstable mobster. As the twisty, noir-infused narrative unfolds, the women determine to go to war against the Mafia – all the men who underestimate them -- in one of the smartest, sexiest films ever made.
Unfairly compared to Gone Girl, this was another story that featured a dark central figure at the heart of a frequently unreliable personal narrative. What begins as a simple mystery, Hitchcockian in its set-uo of a commuter noticing something across the way at one of the houses she stares at on her way into the city every morning, descends into a scary (but fun!) labyrinth of failed relationships and shattered hopes, and comes to a finale that is both shocking and well-earned; a finale that shows that the bonds of womanhood often transcend other alliances.
Indecent Proposal (Directed by Adrian Lyne)
This movie became a cultural phenomenon upon its release, delighting and pissing off many with the question: Would you accept a million dollars for someone to sleep with your significant other for one night? Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson star in this highly charged domestic drama as a couple in financial dire straits, who accept the proposal from Robert Redford. What follows is a rollercoaster ride through that choice, which changes their lives forever. The idea behind the story is compelling, and it certainly sparked a lot of controversy. It’s still worth checking out, and even if it’s not your cup of tea, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful scores ever composed for a movie, thanks to the late great John Barry.
Happy reading and happy viewing!
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About the Author
Martin Aguilera is an LA-based writer and filmmaker whose tastes range between the sacred and profane. When not pondering the longstanding problems of virtue and happiness, he’s typically drinking coffee and browsing at libraries or bookstores.
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