Ep. 42: The Baker aka Assassin in Love

Lucy thinks this movie was funny; sometimes.  Jenny thinks it’s a crime against storytelling.

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Story Analysis & Ratings:

Lucy says: 1.25 Pops ~A charming setting and a solid premise are taken down by hubris and inexperienced storytelling. Damn shame.

Lucy’s rating breakdown: Structure:1, Comedy: 2, Romance:1, Action-Adventure: 1

Jenny says: 1 Pop ~ Easily in the bottom ten films I’ve seen in my lifetime (and I’m old).  Terrible waste of good actors, great photography.  Awful, awful, awful storytelling.

Jenny’s rating breakdown: Structure: 1, Comedy: 1, Romance: 1, Action-Adventure: 1

Blog Poll Rating: TBD

Read the chat here!

Movie Info:

Story: A hit man has second thoughts about his career and seeks refuge from his boss by finding work as a baker in a rural Welsh village. Release Date: May 28, 2008.  Writer: Gareth Lewis (also directed).

24 thoughts on “Ep. 42: The Baker aka Assassin in Love

  1. I rented this movie some time last year, because I loved Damien whatshisface in “Life.” I couldn’t get through the movie. As we say in this house (sotto voce), “It wasn’t good.”

  2. Yeah, what makes it particularly awful was that it had so much going for it: the actors, the premise, the location. On paper the thing is a slam dunk. It took some truly bad writing and directing to ruin all that.

  3. I e-mailed Alastair about it. Because I don’t want to climb two flights of stairs to tell him in person. Lazy R Us.

    Keith, I agree. It makes me angry how much was squandered by one selfish writer/director. I believe I may mention that five or six times in the podcast.

  4. Allrighty, it’s fixed…

    Weirdly enough, I think I liked this better than You Kill Me. Again, because of the casting. I already said last week that I don’t like Tea Leoni, and Ben Kingsley was falling very flat for me in it as well. Whereas in this movie I am lusting after the pretty redhead and the pretty (gay) blonde crazy guy, both of whom I have liked in television (even though New Amsterdam had really really super godawful bad plot like whoa) and uh, I was willing to overlook plot issues to some degree.

    Mostly it just reminded me of watching The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain: it’s supposed to be cutesy quirky English stupid and thus you should have low expectations, and then lower them further. I figured out once he got to town to not have high expectations of plot. And the final duel scene is only there for lulz… but well, I lulzed. I think compared to The Englishman, this movie has probably got a better plot, so I had low expectations and got some laughs and was like, “well, okay.”

    I will not argue with the lack of women issue, or the “randomly blowing up the awful woman” thing, whatever the fuck that was about.

  5. You forgot to mention the Worst Sex Scene Evah. (I can’t believe they kept swinging the camera to the comatose guy in the corner….ew.)

  6. We’ve often seen actors, or even characters, that seemed to be in a different movie than everyone else but I think this is the first time we’ve seen a mash up of scenes that don’t belong in the same movie. It makes for the strange disconnect that I think I kept feeling. Of course, this didn’t keep me from appreciating the beautiful landscape or laughing at some of the jokes, but it didn’t save the movie.

  7. I agree. There were too many genres, too many plots, too many protagonists, too many conflict. Linking them together by place was enough.

  8. I can forgive a lot, but that sex scene was redonk! The Mad Sheep Bomber is partial passed out in the corner while they’re going at it?! The breaking of eggs on each other was just messy, gross and potentially dangerous. Never thought salmonella could be a STD. Just ewww.

  9. You might want to try this movie Wild Target. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1235189/
    I don’t know if it’s available on Netflicks but it’s a hit man in love (or a British movie) and I saw it a couple of months ago and thought it was great. Of course you might tear it apart, but you can’t break my love for Bill Nighy. 🙂

  10. I wanted to, but it wasn’t out on DVD when we made the schedule. Same with Red. Thank God for You Kill Me or the series would have been a dud. Usually with a flawed movie we still get a good podcast, but these have been so unbelievably awful that we couldn’t do anything with them but rant.

  11. I’m fairly certain that he only did this movie because his brother wrote and directed this. The price of being the talented sibling…

  12. Yes, but in doing so, he inflicted it on his fans. I forgive him because there’s Life and Much Ado About Nothing with Sarah Parish, but I was bitter there for awhile.

  13. I am with Perry, I highly, highly recommend Wild Target. I think it hits on both a great Rom Com and a hit man movie. My prediction is everyone will love it.

  14. Wild Target looked really, really good and I almost gambled on scheduling it without a release date. But then I chickened out.

  15. Watched Wild Target this weekend. Ron from Harry Potter was hilarious. My tolerance for the keeping-a-horrible-secret-from-the-love-interest plot seems to have deteriorated over the course of this podcast, though, so I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I might have, but still fun.

  16. Man, I hated Wild Target and quite liked The Baker. But again, high expectations might have hurt as Emily Blunt and Bill Nighy are favorite actors of mine. So here I am, doing my job to lower expectations, so you enjoy it more.

    I thought this movie met the expectations of its genre (like Jennifer said– quirky British romantic comedy). The blown-up animal is a trope (even here– caddyshack anyone?). The scary domineering wife (strictly ballroom, shudder, and the bard/karaoke/bartender are all familiar tropes in this genre.

    People kept saying they didn’t see how Lewis changed during the movie (that he got any more skilled, or that he grew attached to the community). I don’t understand that. What do you need to see to feel those changes? It would be interesting to brainstorm alternative choices the writer/director could have made to convey pieces people thought were missing.

    And about the sex. I thought it was charming and exuberant. Humans are waterproof, they can clean it off, and it seemed a whole lot more comfortable than sex on the beach– which apparently is so erotic that they named a get-her-drunk-quick cocktail after it. I for one see that scene in From Here to Eternity and clench my thighs tightly together. The sand slurry in shallow water is like sandpaper people.

  17. Caddyshack didn’t blow up any animals. The whole point of the joke was that the whatever that thing was (mole? beaver?) won. Also it was obviously a puppet so no bloody heads even if Bill Murray had been able to get it.

    The scary domineering wife is fine if she’s not half of the speaking parts for women, although I still find it annoying in the way that there are lots of mother-in-law jokes but no father-in-law jokes. Why? Because women aren’t supposed to be domineering and order people around, that’s a man’s job. No male could have been like that wife in this movie because it wouldn’t have been funny, and the wife couldn’t have been young or pretty or thin because that wouldn’t have been funny. It’s the ugly, fat, older woman who is good for comedy when she’s domineering and especially good when you blow her up because that’ll teach her to think she has any kind of power in the world of that story. The movie had no time for women in general except as a comic threat or a sexual object. You can do guy movies without loathing strong women.

    The bartender didn’t bother me, but I don’t think I’ve seen his type before. Of course, I haven’t see a lot of things before.

    The baker didn’t grow more skilled. There wasn’t any sense that he knew what he was doing, you didn’t see him getting better, taking pleasure in the baking, finding meaning in the baking. You just got a baking montage while the bar sang Volare which made no sense. Same with the romance although they hardly had time with two casual meetings and one date. Things happened in the plot, but none of them connected to each other so that you could see arc.

    For the sex, it isn’t that human beings don’t like being messy, it’s that the mess should be sensual. Whipped cream, chocolate sauce, hell, gravy and mashed potatoes, but not cold, raw eggs. The scene was played that they couldn’t get wait to get to each other; so the food stuff wasn’t foreplay it was just a food fight in the middle of rolling around in front of a teenage boy who was going to regain consciousness at any minute. Their motivations in that scene were inexplicable for so many reasons, but I’ll give you a new one: If he’s so in to baking, why would he destroy his kitchen like that? Why would he use food so carelessly and with no thought, no respect, if he’s found his new path through baking? If he’s caught up in passion I can see him accidentally knocking over a carton of eggs, a canister of flour but to deliberately crack eggs on her? Why would he do that? Imagine what that must have felt like, the cold, sticky egg white (strongest natural glue there is) matting with the flour, the gritty sugar, all the other sticky stuff. Then add in the teenage boy to watch. It’s not that it’s impossible that all of that stuff makes them hot, I just don’t think they’d know that on a first date. And again, if it’s first date overwhelming passion, they’d just have sex, not crack eggs on each other.

    I don’t get this movie.

  18. Responding to the “For the sex” paragraph (in a way that also picks up on “how he got better at baking”).

    First, you are a very experienced baker.

    He is not. In fact, he may not have ever made anything before in his life. He may never have stuck his hands in a bowl full of flour and water and kneaded it until the magic came out. I think they made that pretty clear when they showed the minimalist, stark, super-clean, black apartment in the beginning. He went from complete, sterility to that yellow, run-down bakery where Milo went from bumbling ignorance around basic ingredients to looking like an enthusiastic, smiling dough-kneader. That contrast is very clear in my mind’s eye.

    So, given that he has just recently found, by accidentally ending up in the bakery, this window into something warmer and brighter and more joyful than his life before– I think it makes perfect sense that the first sex scene would reflect they way he got to know his ingredients (baking).

    He just jumped in, patting and mixing right on her the way he did with his baking, getting to know both with great gusto and a joy he didn’t show in his earlier life (though he was an exceptional assassin– the best). He sucks at cooking exactly the way he sucks at sex, but his enthusiasm is so real that it makes up for it. I think that’s romantic.

    And parsimony and efficiency with ingredients is an expert cook’s character trait. Not a novice cook’s. Milo isn’t poor. He’s probably loaded given the apartment he had before. He’s running the bakery because he’s in hiding.

    I can completely see what the director/writer was trying to do with that scene by mirroring the joyful, clutsy, unrestrained way milo baked with how they “made bread together” (said in a Barry White basso).

  19. PS: Why is “skill” the only measure of arc? How about increased confidence. Better looking product (that surely happened). And considering where he started, he did become more skilled. I’m not sure how skilled he needed to be before you would be satisfied that there was a value change. I actually really appreciated that, in the final scene, it was the assistant who could do the (hilariously OTT perfect) cake decorations while Milo was still struggling with his tongue between his teeth.

    His “skill” wasn’t what was at stake for him. He had been the best assassin. Skill didn’t work for him before. He wants something he loves to do– and he clearly loves baking. Why can’t he love it and be mediocre, but loved by the town (esp. since he’s the only baker in town, so what choice do they have.)

    Susan Danic has talked about cultural differences in the British Commonwealth and the US. (as has Eddie Izzard). I guess trying to Become the Best at something is quite frowned upon as being too full of yourself (or even Too American).

    —————-Izzard Excerpt from Dress to Kill———–

    I grew up in the ’70 s. The careers
    advisor used to come to school.

    He’d tell the kids, “I advise you
    to get a career, what can I say?”

    He took me aside and said,
    “Tell me your dreams.”

    “I want to be an astronaut,
    discover new things.”

    He said, “Look, you’re British,
    so scale it down a bit.”

    “All right, I want to work
    in a shoe shop, then.

    “Discover shoes that no one’s ever
    discovered in the back of the shop.”

    “Look, you’re British,
    so scale it down a bit.”

  20. Last one, I promise:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BaaBomb

    Exploding sheep has an entry on TVtropes.

    I often like the same books/movies as Rox and Keith so I *was* surprised that even they couldn’t finish it. Ah, well.

    It would be fun to do a round-up at the end with everyone submitting their pop ratings for each movie they’ve watched (so we could see the hits and misses by user.) It would be fun if people also posted whether or not their opinion changed after hearing the podcast. This has been highly educational.

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