Thursday, December 27, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

"Silver Linings Playbook" I would say is the best movie out this holiday season and there's tons of movies out.  I saw it by myself in the afternoon today.  It was long--Why are all movies out this season over two hours? But great all the way through.

I laughed out loud many many times, sometimes when no one else was laughing so it was probably a good thing my husband wasn't there.

It got 4 1/2 stars on Rotten Tomatoes.  Finally, Rotten Tomatoes, I concur!

I didn't go to this movie because of the stars.  Bradley Cooper and a girl half his age, are you kidding me?  But I kept reading great reviews...

I've seen Bradley Cooper in a lot of things including the first season of the tv show "Alias" (except "The Hangover" movies, I haven't seen those.)  And I really didn't think he was extraordinary until this movie where he gets to play a bipolar character with many layers of emotion named Pat.

Jennifer Lawrence, I didn't really get either before this movie and I have seen "The Hunger Games" but not "Winter's Bone," but she is good in this role as a crazy jogger/ dancer.

Everyone is talking about how great Robert Deniro is as Pat's football obsessed dad and he is.

It was hard for me to like the main character at first because he is pretty scary with his anger issues and his overzealous love for sports which I also find very scary though I am the same about certain rock bands.  But he won me over with his frankness and humor and his optimism--he always tries to look for "a silver lining."

My favorite part of the movie is how the main character decides to read his ex-wife's syllabus for her high school English classes and freaks out over the ending of "A Farewell to Arms."

My second favorite part of the movie was the scenes in the therapist's office.  What a great therapist!  The therapist, played by Anupam Kher handled Pat really well and calmly too.

This was a movie adaptation of the novel by Matthew Quick and I want to read the book now too.

This was directed by the same guy who did "I <3 Hucklebees," which confused me, and "Flirting with Disaster," which I remember hating.  It will be interesting to see what David O. Russell will direct next.

Postscript: I did read the book. The big dance scene was in the middle of the book and not the end like it was in the movie. Both Cooper and Laurence brought a lot to the characters they played and even made them more likeable. What Pat finds in the shower that sets him off is a big reveal at the end of the book whereas in the movie, the audience is told this right away.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dedication (2007)

"Dedication" is a script I wish I would have written.  It's got some great lines and a lot of energy.

It only got two stars on Rotten Tomatoes?!  Why? Why do I never agree with reviewers?  Not only is it a good script but I love how Justin Theroux (first time director) does a lot of cool jumpcuts and fast motion shots, and parts that look like a tribute to Super-8 film with lots of scratches.

The story: An OCD children's writer, Henry, loses his mentor, Rudy, and is paired with a girl, Lucy, who wears a parka and draws.  I saw it years ago and remember thinking Mandy Moore was some kind of pop star and a weird choice for a weird girl--- that was before she married Ryan Adams.  At least she doesn't overdo the cheeriness to the despairing guy which many movies do.

Billy Crudup is AMAZING as a guy with issues.  I like how he needs heavy books on top of him to calm down and how he wears a helmet in the car because he is petrified of being in one. My favorite rant of his that he got to do is the following one:

Henry [to Lucy]: Ok, fine. I don't care about nebulas. You know accuse me of whatever you want, I'm probably guilty of it... contributing to global warming, and killing a squirrel once, and using the word retarded, and occasionally misinterpreted bigotry, but don't, don't... don't don't don't don't don't accuse me of not liking you. Ok?

I would want the father figure Rudy (Tom Wilkinson plays).  He got to deliver great lines like these:
Rudy Holt: You know what life is?
Henry: Life is a horrible little giggle in the midst of a forced death march towards hell.
 [at this point, I crack up...what word choice--I am in heaven!]
Rudy Holt: No it isn't.
Henry: An interminable wale of grief... [wow]
Rudy Holt: No. Life is a single skip for joy. [ahh, the alliteration]
Henry: I know. 

"Dedication" is another rom com with a great soundtrack that I downloaded.  The songs have crunchy 90s guitar sounds and include musicians such as Cat Power, The Strokes, Fischerspooner, and Deerhoof.

There are also some great cameos by people such as Peter Bogdanovich, Dianne Wiest, and Amy Sedaris.

I could watch it again.  I love the rain scene.  I love how Rudy out of no where jumps off the roof.  I love the bad-choice writer boyfriend who has two dedications in his book's galleys because he hasn't decided between two women yet. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hitchcock (2012)

I saw "Hitchcock" tonight.  It could have very well been a movie that easily disappointed me because I've been eagerly awaiting it for over a year.  But it didn't!  It was great.

The movie is not a "biopic" but rather portrays the time of Hitchcock's career while he was making the movie Psycho for Paramount.

The heart of the film, I would say was showing how his wife Alma was instrumental in his success both emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.  This is a strange angle to come into a Hitchcock film after seeing HBO's movie The Girl.  That movie portrays the time of making Hitchcock's The Birds (that came directly after Psycho).  In The Girl, Hitchcock spends the whole time being lecherous and creepy and Alma is portrayed very much on the sidelines.  So in this movie, I kept expecting Hitchcock to attack his leading lady Janet Leigh (played by Scarlett Johanssen) especially during the scene in the car when she gives him a lift home (below).

Now I'm a big Hitchcock fan and have seen many of his movies and have taught Psycho in my film class.  So one of the best things about the film for me was knowing what they were talking about the whole movie.  I can't imagine what the movie experience would be like if it was your introduction to Hitchcock.  I'd hate it that newbies would go away thinking he wasn't a genius.

Out of all the performances, my personal favorite was Toni Collette as Hitchcock's secretary, Peggy Robertson.  I found her most fascinating.  She wasn't a shy mousy thing but someone really good at giving Hitchcock looks of disbelief.  Not to say Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren weren't amazing.  They were.

I got teary-eyed at the end when it is written on the screen that Hitchcock never got an Oscar in his lifetime.  I think it's because I really want to be a creative type too.  This film definitely inspires that sort of thing.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Life Without Me (2003)

"My Life Without Me" is another movie I've watched many many times.  And it's kinda sad so I'm probably pretty morbid but I really like the script which I bought from Script Fly and the performances which are really great.

This movie opens with a rain scene which I love in movies:

At the beginning of the movie, 23 year old Ann, has two kids, Penny and Patsy, and a husband named Don and they live in a trailer behind her mom's house. Then she starts getting severe stomach pains.

She goes to the hospital and her doctor turns out to be Bucky Haight from "Hard Core Logo" (Julian Richings)!  He is great! Even all the smaller parts in this movie are great.

What follows is a list of things she wants to do.  Surreal things.

This movie made me ask myself questions that I still think about.  Mainly if you were dying is it fair not to tell anyone?  Could you handle it calmly and not freak out?  Could you refrain from immediately boarding on a plane for Europe? Is it okay to have an affair and could you really go back to your husband and sleep with him and feel no guilt at all?

This was the first time I saw Mark Ruffalo in a movie and I fell in love with him as far as falling in love with a character on screen goes.  I liked how his character Lee slowly inches his chair up to Ann's sleeping body in a laundromat and how he watches her sleep in a non-creepy way, I swear.

 not creepy

One of the scenes I love the most in this movie and there are many is the one below where he reads to her as they're all wrapped up in each other on the floor.  But the story is about death so she throws the book across the room and offers no explanation. And he doesn't ask for one and they go on....

I also like how the movie ends.  It's not a bunch of people crying.  It's not melodramatic or hysterical or cliche. And the ending includes scenes of even the minor characters transforming and growing--which is rare and beautiful.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Broken English (2007)

"Broken English" is one of my favorite movies EVER.

It's funny.  Justin Theroux plays this Hollywood actor who checks into a hotel carrying his personal pillow.

It features New York City and Paris.

It's named after a Marianne Faithful song.

It's written and directed by Zoe Cassavetes, daughter of John Cassavetes, my favorite director, and Gena Rowlands who plays the protagonist's mother in the film.

The main character is named Nora Wilder (which I'm guessing is a nod to the great director Billy Wilder.)

The fashion is beautiful.  I wanted every outfit that Nora wore.

Nora also misses her father whom she was very close to. (This pulls on my heartstrings like crazy.) --I'm assuming Zoe might have based that on missing her dad--John Cassavetes died in 1989.

The plot involves Nora feeling lonely at a wedding anniversary for her best friend and going on some very bad dates.  Then Nora meets a French man, Julien at a co-worker's party and gives him a hard time because she is "through with men" at this point.   

She asks Julien, "Do you play guitar?" and when he answers no, she says, "Thank God."  This makes me laugh and laugh.  First of all because of all the guitar players I've crushed on in my life and also because Parker Posey used to date the guitar player/ singer songwriter Ryan Adams and I think this might be somewhat of a reference/ inside joke to that.

Julien is easy going but dating is so stressful that Nora soon has a panic attack and I love how it doesn't totally freak Julien out.

He has to go back to Paris and she later goes looking for him with her best friend Aubrey but has lost his address.  And then it becomes a story of Nora just spending time by herself and learning to appreciate her own company.

I think the ending is great as well.  Very hopeful. It leaves me smiling.

Jean Paul Clement (to Nora): Most people are together just so they are not alone. But some people want magic. I think you are one of those people.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Like Crazy (2011)

"Like Crazy" has a crazy amount of jumpcuts (and handheld camera).  On the couple's first date at a coffee shop/ terrace (Anna and Jacob): she talks and the camera is on her and a wall and then when he talks, the camera is on him and a wall.  Very artsy and strange.

I especially like how Anna tells Jacob she is fine about leaving him in Los Angeles and going back to London and then there is a cut to Anna in a bathtub with mascara running down her face.

Jacob and Anna in the bathtub

It also has other fancy filmmaking like the sped up time at an airport that reminded me of "Garden State." Sped up time in bed.  How do they do those overhead shots of people in bed?  I've been wondering that ever since "Lost in Translation."

"Like Crazy" is a painful film to watch because there is a whole lot of yearning and longing going on as the two lovers are separated by time, distance, and immigration laws.

Anna is a writer with a scrapbook of all scrapbooks.  Here is a sample of Anna's writing:

Anna: "I thought I understood it, that I could grasp it. But I didn't, not really. Only the smudgeness of it; the pink-slippered, all-containered, semi-precious eagerness of it. I didn't realize it would sometimes be more than whole, that the wholeness was a rather luxurious idea. Because it's the halves that halve you in half. I didn't know, don't know, about the in-between bits; the gory bits of you, and the gory bits of me."

When I close my eyes and think of this movie, I think of a broken bracelet that says, "Patience." A beautiful wedding dress, beautiful sunny days. Great fashion on her part. Huge fighting while someone is chopping vegetables with a really large knife.

Trying to make a go of it with other partners.  Cups of tea.

The end. Real or confusing?

Thinking, thinking... I think it's "The Graduate" kind of ending.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Republic of Love (2003)

I saw "The Republic of Love" last night again on Netflix streaming.

It's a love story between the characters Tom and Fay.  Tom is a night-time talk show host who has been married and divorced three times already and Fay is a 30-yr old academic into mermaids who is waiting for the perfect love like she thinks her parents' have.

couple dancing

This movie is both highly romantic and whimsical.  It's based on the novel of the same title by Canadian author Carol Shields and it's dedicated to her.

I love the father with a duck as a pet.  I love the shots of Toronto.  I love the eccentric neighbor who takes a very large cactus.

I like the visual parallel of Fay muttering something like "love sucks" and Tom muttering "never again" on different escalators.

Unexpected things happen like animated flowers crawling up the edges of the screen.

And here it's the guy who is over-the-top romantic.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Forget Me Not (2010)

"Forget me Not" is a movie I've seen at least three times on Netflix streaming late at night when I can't sleep.

The shots are beautiful, lots of gold at night and blue in the twilight.

It's about a dark troubled troubadour, Will, who sings at the pub across the street where he meets Eve, the bartender, and they stroll through the London streets together after closing until dawn.  Kinda like Before Sunrise but here the characters are a bit more world weary.

In some ways, it's that old story of a woman full of light trying to cheer up a brooding guy. 

Will playing guitar for Eve

But there is a big secret here that is revealed in the third act so I will not tell you.

I love the scene where he is carrying her in the rain. (Every movie should have a rain scene.)  Though he kinda reminded me of Frankenstein a bit while doing this.---This leads up to a really hot love scene.

Robert Ebert says the songs could've been better. I just think Will shouldn't be belting the songs out like he does.  It's one thing to be passionate, but I like the more candid understated singing he does for the hen party outside a shop while Eve is picking up a bottle of wine.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Young Adult (2011)

Another movie I loved so much I bought the screenplay here.

Also the main character in "Young Adult" reminded me too much of myself because I too a) still have mixed tapes from ex-boyfriends b) write c) love young adult literature d) have a dog e) am usually slightly disheveled, etc.

This movie reunites director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody who also brought you "Juno."

Mavis with shades on and a Hello Kitty t-shirt

It's dark (comedy). The main character Mavis Gary played by Charlize Theron is pretty on the outside, not so much on the inside, and very much steeped in alcohol though I rooted for her.  As she made passes at her married ex-boyfriend it was like a seeing a train about to hit a car repeatedly.

There was one scene that was totally unexpected where after this big blow out where most protagonists would have learned their lesson and transformed in the story world, a younger girl gushes to Mavis how cool she is while Mavis sits there at the kitchen table as though finally someone is in awe of her even with a big stain on her dress.

The script is really well written.  And not just the dialogue you see in the movie.  The script is really well written.  Diablo Cody is a talented writer.

The Art of Getting By (2011)

"The Art of Getting By" is another movie with a great soundtrack that I downloaded right away (and not just cuz it had a Leonard Cohen song but that helped).

This is also another movie that got a low Rotten Tomatoes score that I really liked.

Freddie Highmore (August Rush) plays a high schooler who draws named George who is about to flunk out.  Emma Roberts plays his love interest, Sally. 

Sally and George on the streets of New York

The smaller parts are also really well cast: Blair Underwood as the principal, Alicia Silverstone as George's English teacher, Rita Wilson as his mom.

Why is this not just another "twee" movie?  Some critics have written that it's self-indulgent, but I think it's self-indulgent ironically.  When George's heart is broken he listens to the same Leonard Cohen "Winter Lady" song over and over, in a funny scene, for example.  In another, they have a friend-type sleepover that's pretty funny.

They also walk around New York City, great shots of the city.

Again, I disagree with Roger Ebert.  The villain is no "sweatheart" he is a wolf in friend's clothing.

Janie Jones (2010)

"Janie Jones" is pie to anyone who likes rock stories like me.  It's also more gritty than most which I appreciated.  There are also a lot of just playing the acoustic guitar scenes.

This one I stumbled upon on Netflix streaming.  Thank you Netflix!  I downloaded the soundtrack right away.  Gemma Hayes has a really great song on it, for example. Others are written by Eef Barzelay.

Alessandro Nivola's character, Ethan Brand, is left with a young daughter, Janie, played by Abigail Breslin at one of his gigs by her mother, played by Elizabeth Shue.

My favorite scene is the laundry mat scene below:

Ethan and Janie playing in laundromat

Ethan is teaching Janie a really great guitar song while the two of them sit on washing machines and the lighting is grey blue green/ fluorescent.  I guess I like it so much because it feels candid.  And it's a really good song where half way through, the movie cuts to them playing it live.  Both actors can really sing and play and do.

I liked how there were no O.D.'s in this movie.  I liked how the band totally freaks out on him and leaves--that was well done.  I like how the two main characters help each other out without being too over the top.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Two of Us (2000)

In honor/ memory of the day John Lennon died, I'm going to write about my favorite fictional hypothetical movie "The Two of Us" about John Lennon and how he spends one day with Paul McCartney in New York City a few years after the Beatles broke up (in 1976).

Aidan Quinn (love him ever since "Desperately Seeking Susan") plays Paul and Jared Harris plays John.

It's a talkie film, I'm not even sure if there are any other characters really but their discussions are quite intriguing and at one point I think John makes Paul a cup of dandelion tea. I thought that was so great at the time--I had to go out and try dandelion tea immediately after that.

Paul shows up at the Dakota, John's famous last home.  John Lennon: [greeting Paul] "The ghost of Christmas past."

Paul and John

They frolic in Central Park and they go to one of John's favorite restaurants.  They contemplate having a reunion of sorts on the tv show "Saturday Night" Live that night  because producer Lorne Michaels offers them $3000 to do it but it never happens.

"Two of Us" is a reference to a really great song about the end of a relationship on what's known as the Beatles' break up album "Let It Be."  There's a really good Michael Penn/ Aimee Mann cover of this song out their as well (on the "I am Sam" soundtrack).

Personally, I could watch hours of Liverpudlians yucking it up.  I love the British slang and I love the accents.  And John Lennon could have been the wittiest person ever.

John Lennon: [Answering the Intercom System] Help me, I'm trapped inside this little box.

People Like Us (2012)

I probably chose to see "People Like Us" because the poster has lens flare and that's my favorite type of photographic image.  It's true, I'm crazy about lens flare.

I had not seen Chris Pine in Star Trek and I mostly thought of Elizabeth Banks as the quirky person in "The Hunter Games" or as Laura Bush.

Anyway, I'm glad I saw this.  It's sort of a fractured family story that has to be glued back together.

family at the beach

Chris Pine plays a guy whose father just died and has left a dop bag full of money for a half-sister he didn't know he had.

The interesting slant for me was that Elizabeth Banks's character was in recovery so many scenes sort of talked about that and parts took place in and around AA meetings.

I did like the screenplay.  I even bought it at Script City.

Your Sister's Sister (2011)

"Your Sister's Sister" is like a vacation to someone's cottage, I guess 'cuz most of the movie takes place in one.

It could have been a play because it basically showcases the three characters--Hannah, Iris, and Jack---talking.  I'm not sure if it was one.

Now that I've done some research, it wasn't a play.  A review on IMDB states that there was plenty of "impromptu conversation Director Lynn Shelton nurtured and encouraged from the mere 70 page script. She confessed that 75% of the dialogue was improvised allowing a unique honesty to develop within each character, thanks to a stellar cast."

three people on the side of a hill

Emily Blunt (Iris, in the middle of the photo) is really captivating to watch.  More so than her other movies of late like "The Five Year Engagement" or "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."

What happens is absurd / extreme and so it's somewhat of a farce.  And I'm not going to give it away but will ask one question:

What Hannah does is so unethical, how could Iris or Jack forgive her? In real life, I think these incidents would cause them to scatter to the farthest ends of the earth.  Instead in the last scene, they are holding hands in a bathroom.

Ruby Sparks (2012)

"Ruby Sparks" sparks for so many reasons.  First of all, Paul Dano from "Little Miss Sunshine" among other things. Two, the directors are the directors from "Little Miss Sunshine," Jonathan Deyton and Valerie Feris.  Three, Zoe Kazan is not just Ruby--she wrote it.

This could be a bad movie because it's about a writer who makes up a girlfriend and she miraculously shows up in his apartment.  I would think it would be hard to get an audience to believe that.

But they pull it off.  Whether it's funny lines, Ruby's purple tights and red dress, Paul Dano going on and on about how hard it is to be a writer---of course I'm going to lap those lines right up.

Ruby and Calvin in the car

Paul Dano's character Calvin starts off lying down on the therapist's couch talking to Elliot Gould and I'm at home feeling like I'm in a Woody Allen movie happy as pie.  Later he's on the same couch clutching some kind of teddy bear---love that!

Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, and Chris Messina

Then there's the scene in a car on the road to his parents' house and some powerful French pop is playing making you want to dance.  This turns out to be "Ca Plane Pour Moi" by Plastic Bertrand which I continue to make crazy hair dance to.

Chris Messina plays Calvin's brother, Harry, and the character is such a protective, nice brother.

Calvin's parents, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas, are goofy as hippies living in Big Sur.

The theme, "you can't control the other person in your relationship for it to be successful" is an important lesson and I think the movie explores this idea from many angles.

The end of the movie is the beginning--you'll know what I mean after you watch the film.

Tagline: She's out of his mind. 


Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)

I went into "Celeste and Jesse Forever" knowing nothing about it.  I think I was trying to go see another movie but the time was listed wrong online and when I got to the ticket counter it was halfway through.

Anyway, I am so glad I saw this movie.  I even ended up buying the script at Script Fly, I liked the script so much.

At first the main characters, Celeste and Jesse, are doing ridiculous things with lip gel in a car and I was scared the movie was going to be BAAAD.  But by the end of the movie, I was bawling.

Celeste and Jesse smiling for the camera

If you ever had a relationship where you loved the other person soooo much but you couldn't make it work and had to let it go, you will bawl.

There are funny scenes too like Rashida Jones drunk in a pool drifting with shades on.

Great smaller roles here too like the yoga guy (Chris Messina), her best friend (Ari Graynor), her boss (Elijah Wood), her popstar client (Emma Roberts) who says to Celeste, "You're kinda pretty," and Jesse's best friend (cowriter with Rashida Jones,Will McCormack).

[Later I found out you can get the script free here.]

Friday, December 7, 2012

Restless (2011)

"Restless," directed by Gus Van Sant, dedicated to Dennis Hopper with Dennis Hopper's son Henry.

I watched this late at night when I actually was restless.  I knew going into it that it was supposed to be some kind of version of the story of "Harold and Maude" and "Harold and Maude" is probably my favorite movie so I've been wanting to see it for awhile.

A dreary depressed guy? Check.  An over-the-top girl cheerleading him on? Check.  Obsession with death? Check. Lots of time frolicking in nature? Check.  There's even the songs of Sufjan Stevens, son of Cat Stevens, who did the soundtrack for "Harold and Maude."  Both movies also have a re-enactment of the Romeo and Juliet death scene.

So what is the difference between the two movies?  Well, "Harold and Maude" is a dark comedy, with an emphasis on comedy.  I laugh, laugh, laugh, then cry.  Harold's mom is hilarious.  The cop, the priest, the therapist, hilarious.  This movie, not so funny, just dreamy.

girl with a red scarf kissing Enoch

All the shots were beautiful, as beautiful as they can be which is not surprising since Gus Van Sant is the one who directed the surreally-blue "My Own Private Idaho."

The two main really young actors, Henry Hopper and Mia Wasikowska, were super raw. You could see they were both putting their all into the parts and very beautiful themselves. 

In an Oct. 1, 2011 interview for The Oregorian, Mia states, "After we'd shot the amount of takes that Gus was happy with, we'd do one silent version of the scene. Which was fantastic, because by that time we were so much in sync with the rhythm of it all, literally going through all the beats of the scenes but without words. Often, at the end of doing a silent take, I'd think, "Oh, I get it now." I understood it a different way.I think that's a brilliant idea to film a scene because it's Hitchcock's idea of "pure cinema"--the idea that a film story should be told in pictures and not words---at its best.

Like many movies I've seen recently, it ended on the best possible image after some fabulous editing. Smile.

Save the Date (2012)

Loved "Save the Date."  I saw this as an Amazon download on my laptop when I was home sick.

Afterwards, I even downloaded the soundtrack (for the Wolfbird songs, especially the song "Baaaabaaba, babababa, babies!!)  I also friended the co-writer/ graphic artist of all comic drawings in the movie, Jeffrey Brown on Goodreads, a great site for keeping track of books and authors. And he friended me back!!

His drawings are like the following:

drawing of couple

It's not that I liked the main character, Sarah, so much.  She is kind of nervous and wishy washy.  Kinda like me, actually.  Okay, she's okay.  And she wears jean shorts a lot which my husband makes fun of me for wearing.  And she works in a bookstore which I have done.  And she believes in signs.

I thought the character Martin Starr played, Andrew, was sweet.  He is the one below brushing his teeth with Alison Brie's character, Beth who is also Sarah's sister.  Why is he always brushing his teeth in this movie?  I guess because he and his fiance represent the stable life, choosing marriage, and lots of planning.

Andrew and Beth

I like how Martin Starr calls his fiance "lady" and pretty much all of his lines.  I like how he pretend-washes emotional vomit off Sarah's shoulder.

Sarah isn't like her sister Beth.  She ruuuuuuuns from marriage and so opposites are played against each other.

Max Webber who plays Jonathan, Sarah's rebound? Wow Max Webber (below with Lizzy Caplan who plays Sarah).  I loved him ever since "The Hottest State."  He also has a great role in the recent film  "For a Good Time Call."  He's got some pretty cute dance moves in this film.

Sarah and Jonathan

I like the writing of this script.  I like how the main character, "bookstore-lady," Sarah, boxes up her dirty plates when she is moving at the beginning of the film. 

My favorite shot occurs when Sarah's ex-boyfriend, Kevin, and current boyfriend, Jonathan, show up at her art show.  The two guys are looking at drawings on opposite sides of the room and each drawing is of Sarah with the other guy. At the same time, the two guys slowly turn around and stare at each other like two cowboys facing off.

 (I wish I could spend at least an hour at this art show.)

Good ending on this one.  A nicely placed unusual edit.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

For a Good Time Call (2012)

"For a Good Time Call" now on iTunes is a really good movie. Roger Ebert (and some others), I don’t know what you are talking about. 

Yes, it’s about phone sex and it would be easy to say that it just follows the trend of talking about sex as much and as crudely as possible in today’s romantic comedies (such as "Wedding Crashers," "Bridesmaids," Judd Apatow movies, etc.). However, I think it’s done better than any of those movies.

Justin Long is hilarious as a gay friend Jesse who brings two women, Lauren and Katie together because they both need a roommate in New York. He tells Lauren, “You’re my favorite girl…you’re like a Subway gift card.” As he’s selling Lauren the bedroom, he states while skipping around, “This is a bedroom, or is it? Or is it a dance studio? I don’t know. There’s so much space here…The windows with the light coming in, it’s like living on the sun.” Then he sits the two women on the couch and states, “You guys can take this place from nursing home to let’s nurse some cocktails at home, right?”—and that’s just some of his lines from one scene.

Jessie trying to convince the two girls to be roommates

The flashback to the nineties sums up the two women’s differences in two seconds-- one girl is listening to Lisa Loeb and mentioning watching "Felicity" while the other one looks like Brittany Spears in her first video wearing a short red pleated skirt.

One of my favorite parts would be when one roommate is going on a first date with one of the sex-phone callers (Max Webber!) and the other roommate puts together a “date rape totebag” for her with bug spray because she couldn’t find mace or pepper spray.

The script is clever—I’d definitely be proud if I wrote it. Being able to talk about sex lets both characters experience the real thing better (one in the future probably), so it’s not portrayed as degrading in this movie, it’s liberating. Of course, you’d have to willingly suspend your belief there—but once you do, you’ll have a lot of fun. Nia Vardalos, Seth Rogen, and Kevin Smith all have cameos.  Of course, I’m usually so happy to see any movie that takes place in New York City—New York City is my favorite character in a movie—so I was happy from the first establishing shot.

The two women give really good performances, Ari Graynor in one-piece jumpsuits (weird) and Lauren Miller in a striped puffy dress like the Dior one Jean Seberg wore in Breathless. Ari Graynor kind of reminds me of Goldie Hawn and Lauren Miller is like…an almost Parker Posey, maybe? Both were refreshing. The Guardian called it “Nine to Five with dildos”—ha!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Flight (2012)

Saw the movie "Flight" last night. I still think "Clean and Sober" with Michael Keaton is the best movie on alcoholism--it covers sponsors, writing a fourth step inventory, codependency, needing to feel needed, and making amends.

Denzel Washington, however, as Whip Whitaker was awesome--Oscar-worthy awesome, especially when he's making himself a screwdriver with one hand on the side and addressing airline passengers at the same time.

Both movies cover AA, all the lying that goes on, how you can be really verbally vicious to someone you love, beg others to cover up for you, and how when a drunk passes out on the floor, sometimes all you can do is cover him/her with a blanket and tilt his/her head so they don't choke on vomit.

Denzel Washington in the pilot seat

 I love the scene of smokers meeting in the stairway of the hospital--apparently that was the scene that made Robert Zemeckis want to do the film-- and John Goodman really steals two scenes as well.

Two Rolling Stones song-driven slow motion shots may make you think you're in a Scorsese movie, but only for a few seconds. Denzel is given way more dignity than characters Deniro plays.

Friday, July 6, 2012

To Rome With Love (2012)

I saw "To Rome With Love" tonight with my parents and my husband and really enjoyed it.  My dad didn't fall asleep once which is an indication of a captivating film.  And I could relax and not worry about the film scaring my mom or being offensive in anyway. Bring on the farce.

Woody Allen is a great storyteller.  Did I know what was going to happen? No, I had no idea and when each of the four different stories paused, I eagerly awaited for it to pick up again.

There are surprise storytelling methods, from strangers on the street narrating the story to Alec Baldwin's character being sort of a ghost-advisor to Jesse Eisenberg's character who might be just a younger version of himself.

There are also visuals I'll remember like the guy in the shower on stage or the knife-wielding woman. My favorite line had to be the one about "the spineless jellyfish."

Penelope Cruz being sexy

You could tell each part was fun to play for all the actors.  Right away, you get to see Woody Allen nervous on a plane.  Woody Allen was my favorite character in the film.  I was definitely happy to see him back in one of his own movies.  Roberto Benigni got to have a major freak out at the end. Alison Pill was good as Woody's daughter and I rooted for her when she stuck up for her dad.

I would not have cast Greta Gerwig, Jesse Eisenberg, and Ellen Page in the parts that they played. I didn't believe in Greta and Jesse's relationship, nor in Ellen as the seductress.  I would have preferred seeing a trio more like Brie Larson, Paul Dano, and Mila Kunis.

I need to read the screenplay to review all the artsy references Ellen Page's character name-dropped to impress Jesse's character. I think Rilke is the only one I caught.

My parents even took my husband and I out for Italian food afterward in the spirit of the movie--which oddly enough had no pasta or gelato shots in it like they do in "Eat, Pray, Love." I hope I make it to Rome one day soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lola Versus (2012)

Loved it.  Though not everyone will.  I wasn't sure if my husband would like it for instance so I went alone on a Friday afternoon. (Great fun! I should do that more often.)

The movie has a great fantastical opening of all Lola's shoes and personal belongings floating up on the beach and her doing yoga with the camera tilting showing her life is about to go out of whack.

Why do I love this movie?  Well, I would love any romantic comedy set in New York that tries to examine the whole prospect like old Woody Allen movies used to do.  (I also loved the fashion!)  Every dress and pair of shoes that Lola and her friend Alice wear are beautiful beyond anything I've ever seen at the local mall...

Zoe Lister and Greta Gerwig in beautiful dresses holding drinking cups

It also has some surprising plot points and an unconventional ending.  Very brave.

Joel Kinnaman, who I love from the tv show The Killing, doesn't get to shine in this movie; his character is pretty flat.  He's the guy who calls off the wedding at the very beginning of the movie.  He's a painter but we never get to see his art.  Wouldn't it be so funny if his art was ridiculous?

I know Greta Gerwig is "everywhere" right now.  The roles I've seen (Damsels in Distress where she's very bossy and delusional, Greenberg where she's very shy and awkward) have been very different though. Here she's sort of lost and unaware of her best friend, Henry's, feelings--this kind of makes her unlikeable.  In some ways, I think she is too beautiful to have the audience's sympathy.  But she definitely does drunk and remorse well.

Her parents, great actors Debra Winger and Bill Pullman, are "perfect parents," the kind that give you a job when you need one and encourage you to have a party in their beautiful house when they're away.  It's hilarious when Bill Pullman tells Greta's character, "I de-friended him [her ex] on Facebook." I wish they had more scenes though.

I will think of this movie more because it is a lot like the movie I'm trying to write...

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Moonrise Kingdom is awesome and a must see. Though The Royal Tenenbaums will always be my favorite Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom is a whimsical world on an island no less. It's a story of first love, 2 outcasts who find each other. The girl even had 3 younger brothers like I do. I read books too but never out loud to an audience of boys like Wendy in Peter Pan.

dancing on the beach
For anyone who sees it: was Wes Anderson referencing The Shining with that water/dam shot or what? The movie made me really appreciate community theater as well... 

It has the usual Andersonisms: hip music (7 Hank Williams tunes), slow motion, unbelievably cool dialogue, wide deep focus shots with tons of detail, whip pans to get to reaction shots, dolly shots from one room to another. He didn't do the white titles this time though. The use of scissors set up from the first shot was brilliant. 

Actors are well cast. Edward Norton portrays a scout leader who put scout leading even before his "regular job" as a math teacher and who has no idea where his troops were at one point.  Bruce Willis could have been more pained as the rejected lover in love with a married woman but I liked his tenacity at finding the kids.  

Francis McDormand is a pretty cool mom even when her daughter says directly to her face, "I hate you." I love how she got to use a bullhorn to call her kids to dinner.  My mom just yelled at the top of her lungs when dinner was ready though my parents did have a cowbell nailed to the kitchen wall that they would sometimes use as well. 

Jason Schwartzman gets to keep his sunglasses on the whole time making him a caricature of the cool cousin but it works.  He has some of the best lines of the movie. One line has to do with something like this (paraphrasing): Marriage is a big deal.  Go over there and have a conversation about the enormity of it before I do this.

Bob Balaban narrates on various parts of the island with a red cap that reminded me of Steve Zissou's (another Wes Anderson film character). I love how in some scenes he appears like a "floating head" as though the cameraman is  a documentary filmmaker just trying to get the shot.

"I love you, but you don't know what you're talking about."--Sam Shakusky to Suzy Bishop

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Good Guy (2009)

You know I was a huge "Gilmore Girls" fan so it was no wonder that I'd eventually watch "The Good Guy" with Alexis Bledel who plays a role that's like her tv character Rory toned down. I preferred Anna Chlumsky's screentime--she looks like a young Courtney Love. The star here though is Bryan Greenberg who has the best line, "Why is everyone left-handed today?"

It's a very clever script that starts with the end and works back to it. I hated when the sleazy guy got to be the narrator though but luckily it was only short bits.

Greenberg and Bledel at the book club

I learned that there is a country somewhere where pennies are named after raindrops. There's also a literary reference in the movie to a book called "The Good Soldier" so I might have to look into that... Is that why they titled the movie "The Good Guy"? I don't know; I don't think either title is very sexy. I'm not sure what I would have titled it instead. Well, I'd probably title it "Buying Books in New York" but I don't know who else would find that sexy.

The second best character is New York city itself. I love movies that take place in New York. Makes me wanna be there.

Andrew McCarthy steals the show as Bryan Greenberg and Scott Porter's Wall Street boss.  I  love when Bryan Greenberg's character brings him his coffee and change, and he looks at the change in disgust, and throws it in the nearest garbage can.

Wake (2009)

Creepy. It's hard for me to watch any scene with a coffin in it even in a romantic comedy such as "Wake." But I did it. Probably because Ian Somerhalder, Damon from "The Vampire Diaries," had a lead role. It was ooohkay, I guess. Kind of absolutely non-realistic. Forget any verisimilitude. I think he's a better actor on the tv show.

Tagline: Meet Carys.  She's a mourning person...

Vanity Fair (2004)

Last night I watched "Vanity Fair" with Reese Witherspoon. I liked the character of Becky Sharpe. She made everyone else look like he or she had a crazy world view. Now I want to read the book but it could be because I need to grade.

girl with a parrot

My favorite part was when a parrot suddenly flies off her shoulder. End Scene.