Reviewing Glamour's 'Reel Moments' Shorts

Our Reporter Found His Happy With This Year's Three Films

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Now that Glamour's short films have started to make the film festival circuit (there's buzz that Kirsten Dunst's "Welcome" may screen at Sundance next year), we deemed it appropriate to take a critical eye toward this year's crop of exceptional shorts directed by Rita Wilson, Kirsten Dunst and Kate Hudson. Since Glamour readers provided the storylines, it was up to the trio of directors to deliver the creative goods.

Behold, our thoughts on how Clinique's Happy lent itself to three strikingly unique takes on happiness.
"The Trap"
Directed by Rita Wilson, starring Jeanne Tripplehorn, Aisha Tyler, Channing Tatum, Camilla Belle, Johanna Day and Gia Carides.

Maggie (Tripplehorn) is so uptight and plan-focused that her friends have to schedule her surprise birthday party a month in advance to get any kind of rise out of her. After being lured out to an abandoned warehouse and instructed to wear a sequined bustier, she walks into a veritable circus created by her friends, complete with trapeze (or "trap," as it's cleverly nicknamed). A pep talk from best friend Toni (Day, channeling Patricia Clarkson) and a tequila shot ensues, but Maggie is still skittish about giving the titular trap a try. Climbing to the top of the trapeze as images of her younger, more-adventurous self flash by on projection screen, she's greeted by a shirtless Channing Tatum, who tells her of the trap: "It's not about holding on, it's about letting go." If you don't know what happens next, welcome to your first movie.

Rating:two and a half stars (out of four).
The most cheesy and predictable of the bunch, to be sure. But Tripplehorn speaks volumes about Maggie by expertly weaving through a wide range of emotions, despite the audience being given virtually no backstory on her character. Plus, Wilson gets extra points for realizing that even the most height-phobic Glamour reader could be talked into virtually anything by a topless Channing Tatum.
Directed by Kirsten Dunst, starring Winona Ryder, John Hawkes and Alexandra Gold Jourden.

Here's something a bit unexpected: a legitimately creepy ghost tale starring Winona Ryder as a mother who is having problems convincing a spirit of some sort to leave her daughter be. The film starts out promising from the opening scene, an ominous, David Lynchian tracking shot of a car pulling down a winding road as an AM radio plays on the stereo, and only builds from there. Dunst does a fine job as director, having clearly learned a lot from frequent collaborator Sofia Coppola on how to deftly mix tones. As for the "happy" ending? Having Coppola cousin Jason Schwartzmann contribute a surprise cover over the closing credits is a spot-on end to an affecting little ghost story.

Rating: three and a half stars
This one demands to be seen at the very least in full-screen mode for full effect, preferably with the lights out. It's fine for work-viewing, too, though your colleagues might wonder what made you jump so much. It's all so eerily effective you don't even think twice about the fact that Ryder is exploring supernatural themes again without ever once shouting "Beetlejuice!"
Directed by Kate Hudson, starring Virginia Madsen, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Kristen Stewart, Dax Shepard, Ethan Suplee and Chevy Chase.

A mother-daughter tale told in two parts via flashback. It starts when a shockingly mature-looking Dakota Fanning (hello puberty!) pleads with her mother (Virginia Madsen) to let her buy a vintage Gibson '79 Hummingbird guitar, despite said instrument being sold for $1,200. Mom says no, to much scoffing, only to start flashing back to her own '70s childhood (where she's played by the delightful Kristen Stewart). Turns out Mom once begged her father (played by Hudson's real-life stepdad, Kurt Russell) to let her buy a Cutlass (clever title, no?) even though she was going to have to do some major haggling to get the car dealer to come down to her price level. After a humorous-if-unnecessary Chevy Chase cameo, the flashback ends and returns to Dakota and Virginia. Two guesses how it all ends up.

Rating: three stars
Like Hudson herself, Cutlass is sweet, playful and heavy on '70s kitsch. The story, however, is old as time, but is somehow improved on the basis of the A-list stars behind it. Fanning has learned to play down the easy adorability now that she's reached early adolescence, and Madsen is given a run for her money in Stewart's younger, rebellious portrayal of the same character. The fact that even bit parts are played by celebrities (look for Chase, Shepard and Suplee as goofy mechanics) lends the project a sense of importance and hipness it wouldn't otherwise have as, say, an after-school special.
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