No Strings Attached

In No Strings Attached, Natalie Portman plays Emma, an emotionally fragile doctor who’s just way too busy for a boyfriend. Ashton Kutcher plays Adam, the budding screenwriter with a famous Dad, with whom she negotiates a kind of “friends with benefits” relationship. He wants more, she can’t handle more…..ah, you know the whole damn movie is about making her change her mind?

But it works, not just because of the cracking chemistry between the stars (which is palpable – Ashton is beyond his best here, and Natalie is, well, sublime – but because of a whole host of loopy supporting turns and zany scenarios that are by turns both ridiculously unlikely but completely right. It’s very LA too – one scene takes place outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – somewhere I visited for the first time when stranded by the Icelandic volcano last year.

OK, I’m man enough to admit it: I really LOVED it. I thought it was smart, funny, sweet, sexy and completely ludicrous. I even laughed out loud a few times – which was a bit embarrassing on a 16-hour Emirates flight in the middle of the night.

Killers

It pains me to say it, but Killers, starring Katherine Heigl and a buff Ashton Kutcher, feels like Mr. & Mrs. Smith Lite. It’s about a spy whose past catches up to him, much to the chagrin of his nerdy wife and her omnipresent parents. The Hollywood Reporter was withering, calling it “an action comedy that nearly renders the term an oxymoron.” That’s perhaps a tad harsh. But whilst it’s fun enough, the action scenes are good enough, the dialogue is sparkling enough, Catherine O’Hara is scene-stealing enough, it still feels like something’s missing. I fell asleep in the middle, which should perhaps be a clue.

Location-wise, the opening scenes take place in Nice in the south of France – a beautiful and underrated city that was once the site of my very own Blonde Ambition World Tour. (I shall not kiss and tell about this, so don’t ask.) Nice is still high on my “emigration planning” shortlist and it appears in movies nowhere near often enough. The rest is shot in that Southern movie debutante now well and truly established in society, Georgia. The town of Douglasville – allegedly “where Atlanta keeps its charm” – served for exteriors. And here’s a little known factoid; the same Douglasville was originally known as Skint Chestnut. Gotta love the naming habits of the semi-literate – though few can compete with SA’s very own desert town, Hotazel.