Category Archives: Rom-Com

Charlie Countryman (2013)

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See, this is why you should always watch a film that interests you no matter what, regardless of the general consensus. I don’t know why, but it seems like the past few years have been overflowing with hidden gems that many have dismissed, simply presuming that the opinions and habits of other (idiotic) film-viewers are infallible. Films like “On the Road,” “Only God Forgives, and “The Counselor” have all been notoriously smashed by critics and the general public alike, resulting in an abundance of undeserved negativity, virtually non-existent box office returns and so on. For example, I’ve read a few articles on all the aforementioned flicks, including “Charlie Countryman,” and they’ve all been deemed irrefutably flawed by the majority, in some way, on the top two reviewing websites, those being IMdB and Rotten Tomatoes. The only reason I bring those two up is because in my experience, they’re what a significant amount of movie-goers check for info and testimonials before heading to the theatre or renting a flick.

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People are impressionable you know, when they read a bad review, see terrible opening weekend numbers, it sticks with them, and as much as I try to be, I’m no different. I’ve been excited about “Charlie Countryman” for a while now, but when I saw this black hole of hate engulfing it, I became a little leery. The only thing that kept pushing me forward were my past experiences with the films I previously mentioned. They were all shot down before even being given a legitimate chance. So I vowed that I’d never toss a film to the wayside without due diligence, and boy has that attitude payed huge dividends. While not a contender for best picture of the year, “Charlie Countryman” does have purpose and merit. It’s different, intriguing, heart-wrenching. This might be a bad thing for some, but I like to be sad with a film just as much as I like to be content. So let’s do away with useless cinematic conventions and give the underdogs a chance. Finding films with value on the periphery are all the more rewarding and personal, they stick with you.

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“Charlie Countryman,” Directed by Fredrick Bond and written by Matt Drake, is an extreme love story you won’t soon forget starring Shia LaBeouf, Mads Mikkelsen, Evan Rachel Wood, Rupert Grint, and Til Schweiger. Not to mention tremendous supporting performances from Vincent D’onofrio, Melissa Leo, and John Hurt. Now, with a cast of this caliber, it’s easy to see how some have set the bar unreachably high. But let’s discuss the film itself for now, we’ll return to the performances in a bit. We join Charlie (LaBeouf) in a bit of a crisis, his mother is not longed for this world and he’s struggling with the simplicity of his existence. After his mother passes, Charlie sets off to Bucharest in order to keep a promise he made to her and to realize, experience his life. On the plane, Charlie finds himself in another precarious situation regarding death and promises. Upon landing, amongst the chaos and confusion, Charlie meets Gabi and immediately falls in love, but soon understands that anything worth while comes with sacrifice.

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Right off the top from the plot’s description, it’s clear to see that “Charlie Countryman” isn’t anything out of the ordinary story-wise. This isn’t a problem, simply push the tale’s lack of originality to the back burner and enjoy the film’s strengths. Director Fredrick Bond does a marvellous job capturing the harsh, underworld beauty of Bucharest. A city that doesn’t often get he chance to strut its stuff on the big screen. Complimenting the skylines and structures is a magnificent, entrancing soundtrack that is lively, ambient, and intoxicating. The score, for me anyway, was the pleasant surprise of the entire film. Now, although writer Matt Drake did struggle creating something of individuality and that will stand the test of time. There is some terrific dialogue that’ll give you reoccurring chills. He didn’t get a lot of things right with “Charlie Countryman,” but the one thing Drake’s script isn’t, is cliche.

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Getting back to the portrayals, I mean, what can one say? It’s hard to blame anyone here for “Charlie Countryman’s” faults. In the title role, Shia LaBeouf clearly cherished every moment on screen and the honest ambiguity the character afforded him to unleash. The sadness, happiness, and emotional range he executes is flawless. As for his character’s lover, Gabi, portrayed by the lovely Evan Rachel Wood, there’s nothing to dwell on brashly here either. The accent may get a little ridiculous at times, but she’s equally as emotionally invested as LaBeouf. Now, the main reason I caught this flick was to watch Mads Mikkelsen. No offence to the cast or crew, some of which whom I adore greatly, it’s just that he’s just near the top of my to-watch-list. While Mads doesn’t blow the top off “Charlie Countryman,” he doesn’t phone it in. With his resume, it’s simply hard to turn up a performance that rivals his greatness. The supporting cast is also superbly strong. Compiled of some of the best in the business, if the story and cinematic aspects don’t get you, the cast surely will.

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Superlatively acted, visually striking, and emotionally strong. “Charlie Countryman” may not have the staying power some might have hoped, but is definitely strong enough to evoke a response.

Charlie Countryman: 7 out of 10.

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About Time (2013)

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If you were to ask the casual film-viewer what their thoughts are as to what is ultimately hampering the romantic-comedy these days, odds are they’d reply that their premises, unfurling of events, and happy-go-lucky nature aren’t very realistic, therefore supremely disengaging. Put in layman’s terms, almost everything about them is far fetched which renders their message, their point, their reason for simply being inert and unattainable. The rom-com used to be and should still be one of the most elemental, down-to-earth, and audience compatible genres. Yet nowadays, it seems that every week another cold, forced, and faceless piece of less-than-romantic, unfunny drivel is released. To make matters worse, the dialogue is contrived and overly gooey, and the characters either come off as pretentious, act un-rightfully entitled, or are just plain out loaded…in other words, they’re nothing more than couple of spineless, snobby saps unworthy of your time. Thankfully however, “About Time” is none of the sort.

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Now, what’s quite ironic is that this aforementioned general opinion regarding the genre is itself fairly contrived, more just going with the flow instead of forming personal opinions…but there is a method to this madness. I mean, you used to go into the theatre to see a rom-com and be fairly sure that this, your dark, lonely existence would be illuminated…at the very least dimly lit by the opportunity, the chance at something with purpose. You know, something that would make the remainder of your days meaningful, bearable. Why? you ask. Well let’s face it, the honest truth is that this short span of time we have is extremely disheartening and the only thing that lights up our brief days is love, in its many transcendent forms. Today, you’re lucky if 10% of rom-com flicks are superb enough to evoke such a reaction and the rest miraculously flop, predictably.

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I know that some of you are married or have significant others, and even kids, so the previous rant might not apply to you. If this is the case, just smirk condescendingly at my vulnerability…but I digress. Look, if I’m to be honest with you, my readers whom I adore endlessly. Recently I had given up on the big “L” word and the genre entirely (neither had anything to do with my dismissal of the other). The last rom-com that I can confidently say I swept me off my feet was “Wedding Crashers,” so yeah, it’s been a while. This year however, I’m feeling slightly more optimistic, I’m still, slightly young so there’s still time to turn everything around, and it just so happens that two of my favourite films of the year are romantic-comedies, those being “Drinking Buddies” and the one I’m about to review, “About Time,” a good sign for my progression if you ask me (optimism). However, this being said, my previous statements about the genre still remain prominent and true. With the exception of a few here and there, the genre is suffering…but this debate is for another day.

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To switch things up rather abruptly, here’s a peeve of mine I hope you reflect. Don’t you hate it when a film’s marketing doesn’t do it justice or presents the flick itself incorrectly? This common, grave error occurs all too often and essentially leads to misinterpretations, bad auras, and critic negativity…you know, absorption misconceptions. A few off the top of my head, “Only God Forgives,” “On the Road,” and “The Counselor” just to name a few. Why I bring this up is because I fear that “About Time” was branded all wrong and that it’ll be misunderstood and underrated as a result…a thought my buddy brought up upon exiting the theatre that I had swirling around my head throughout its runtime that I agreed with.

To go even further off topic, did you know I went to the same university as “About Time” star Rachel McAdams, just a few years after she graduated? And Malin Akerman, but that’s besides the point. Doesn’t that suck? Here I am sitting alone, when I could be married to my ultimate crush had I been born just a few years earlier. Wow, this review got sidetracked in a hurry, let’s get back to the film.

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There are few who know love as well as Richard Curtis, and even fewer who can execute it to such an effective degree on the big screen. Director of “Love, Actually,” and scribe of “Notting Hill,” just to rattle off a few of his most notable rom-coms, Curtis is one of the most talented and perennial minds the genre has ever known. He continues down this road he has long trotted and helped solidify with another piece of solid gold containing such mesmerizing humanity and willing vulnerability that it rivals even his most accomplished outing, whatever you feel that may be.

Following a quirky, romantic lawyer who has the ability to time travel to any moment in the past and change whatever he wishes. “About Time” might not be Curtis’ most original piece, but is definitely the most inventive, funny, and emotionally relentless he’s ever conjured, in my opinion anyway. Granted, the story’s structure and premise is nothing you haven’t seen or heard before, but try not to focus on the weary ploy of a lonesome time-traveler. What is most mesmerizing, astounding, and rewarding about this flick doesn’t have to do with the story or thematic retread, but rather what Curtis accomplishes and evokes with it. There is only one other filmmaker (Drake Doremus) I know of that can capture those subtle, minuscule movements and glances that exude true happiness, sadness, and disheartening realizations as well as Curtis does here. For just his third feature behind the camera, Curtis shows the talent of a wily veteran. Regardless if you’re a fan of his work, a cinephile, or just becoming aquatinted, this is a must see.

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What’s even more important than having an invested, well-versed overseer conducting and directing the flow is a cast with chemistry, charisma, and honesty. Starring the lovely Rachel Mcadams, the immensely talented Bill Nighy, and sky-rocketing up-and-comer Domhnall Gleeson, it’s fair to say that “About Time” is formidable across the board. Gleeson, although remarkably skilled, still managed to stun me with his performance. The vast spectrum and depth of the emotions he portrays is decidedly accurate and plain-out staggering. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more authentic, driven performance this year. Nighy, who still flies unnecessarily under the radar here in North America, adds another flawless undertaking to his already stellar resume. Finally, the always radiant Rachel McAdams has somehow managed to leave me breathless once again. I’d love to go into more detail, but I don’t want to come off as a creep. All you need to know is that she delivers in every aspect…just stunning.

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Nothing like the negativity you’ve probably read or heard and is anything but what you expected. “About Time” is, without question, one of the sleeper hits this year.

About Time: 8.5 out of 10.

TIFF 2013: Don Jon (2013)

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It’s about as close to the perverse truth as any romantic-comedy has come close to depicting. It delivers the goods on its premise and is unique enough to distance itself from the genre. There is no denying the chemistry between its two wonderful, handsome leads and the laughs are consistent and real. Yet, one can’t help but feel that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut “Don Jon” is missing that certain climactic element. Essentially, there is nothing utterly wrong with the film itself. The fault lies in its inability to provoke any kind of meaningful reaction or reward the viewer for tagging along in the journey. Granted, the plots skeletal structure is anything but common and Levitt isn’t afraid to show a little skin, so to speak. However, the point in which the viewer joins the protagonist never diverts or scatters, resulting in a linear, anti-climactic, albeit impressive debut for Levitt.

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Jon Martello (Levitt) is a present day Don Juan who objectifies everything in his life, specifically women. His friends call him Don Jon because he is consistently able to pull “10s” every week. Soon, Jon’s addiction to internet pornography renders his sex life less than fulfilling and eventually his relationships begin to falter because of it. On his journey to discover a more satisfying love life, Jon falls for Barbara (Johansson), a beautiful woman who is obsessed with control.

Much like Joss Whedon did to the horror genre with “The Cabin in the Woods,” Levitt has disassembled, dissected, and rebuilt the conventional stereotypes and outlook of the romantic comedy. However, when blatantly poking fun at countless years of tradition and canon, the revolt better be a game changer. And for the most part, Levitt has this transformation pointed in the right direction. His outing is a raunchy, veracious, satirical romp…of course not to the same height, success, or effectiveness as Whedon and Goddard’s comedic fright-fest. However, with “Don Jon,” Levitt has genuinely created something brash, original, and straightforward. It definitely bursts with the usual charisma and wit that typically defines films of this genre and manages to lure the viewer in with likeable, terrifically performed, over-the-top characters.

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Although for the majority of its runtime, “Don Jon” is severely superficial. This reinvented concoction does offer more insight, intelligence, and endearing qualities than the majority of the genre’s entries. “Don Jon” is merely a half-realized revelation for the rom-com genre and is heavily directed at the male populous. It’s sure to not sit as well with the female market, but for those who can handle the harsh fact of differing motivations in opposite-gender relationships. It’ll conjure up some big body-aching laughs and a veritable gaze into the logical and emotional differences that continuously baffle our co-existing genders. Compared to its counterparts, “Don Jon” is a breath of fresh, sexually charged air into a genre that would rather play pretend than focus on truth-telling and authentic, situational humour.

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It’s rather comical, yet seriously obscure that I’m having this much difficulty writing up this review. As I previously stated, there isn’t anything actually wrong with the film. It’s funny, different, and Levitt, again for the most part, has done everything with his usual flair and charm. I just feel that with “Don Jon,” Levitt errs on the side of caution. As if he has intentionally pushed the envelope, but got cold feet halfway to his destination. You’ll find yourself watching the film and feel a bit naughty and excited by this new, uncharted cinematic territory. And then, when you’ve finally reached the end, flustered and gleeful, the slow realization that you weren’t overly wowed begins to take over. However, all this being said, “Don Jon” truly is an impassioned, touching, respectable debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. So long as he keeps chugging along this road of ingenuity and continues to carve out his own way. Levitt will have a long, prosperous career behind the camera.

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The one thing you can rely on when heading into the theatre to experience “Don Jon” is the consistent cleverness and turbulent coexistence of all the characters. Which are incredibly and ably performed by the entire cast, which features Scarlett Johansson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julianne Moore, and Tony Danza.

Marred in heavy makeup and a thick New Jersey accent, Scarlett Johansson is as striking as ever, even though she maybe a tad incoherent. Nonetheless, in a role that significantly depends on superficiality and surface pleasures. It’s her ability to transform and power through the external distractions in order to reach internal importance that is truly remarkable. Tony Danza is down-right hilarious in his supporting role. Hopefully this will lead to his emergence from the shadows and launch him back into the mainstream. Moore is just phenomenal in her supporting role, she hasn’t been this effective and stunning in a long while. As for Levitt, he’s as effective and suave as ever, but we shouldn’t have expected anything less. Levitt does a phenomenal job while pulling double duty and really adapted both physically and mentally, not only to play and capture the role, but create it. Although I have to admit, Levitt’s portrayal here is quite the oddity when you associate him with the heartbroken romantic from “500 Days of Summer,” quite the contrast.

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It might dwell a little to close to safety, but its excess of honesty and hilarity is enough for “Don Jon” to overcome its faults. It is a respectable inception for director/writer Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Don Jon: 7.5 out of 10.

Drinking Buddies (2013)

Okay guys, this will be the last post written by me (key words “written by me”) for a little bit. TIFF is officially underway today and I am soon to be on my way downtown for the festivities. So for the next 10 days, I’ll try my best to post reviews for the films I see at the festival as quickly as I can. Look forward to a new segment launching tomorrow. Oh, and let me know what you think of the new site layout/set-up!

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Very rarely does a film so authentically capture the bittersweet, infuriating, and most private moments of a relationship. Joe Swanberg’s “Drinking Buddies” accomplishes this feat with flying, albeit, melancholic colours through the observation and dissection of multiple, interweaving bodies. Perhaps what’s even more disconcerting than the film industry’s inability to steadily and genuinely recreate films that display such universal emotions, is its refusal to acknowledge and rigorously promote the ones that do. Regardless, “Drinking Buddies” is poignant, funny, and adamant in its portrayal of disheartening, yet rewarding bonds. Tossed in alongside Swanberg’s swift, structural direction and marvellous performances from the entire cast. This whimsical, visceral romantic comedy has overcome its limited release and every obstacle thrown to steal even the most critical cinephiles heart.

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Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson) are good friends and co-workers and at a Chicago brewery. The two spend their days working and the nights drinking with their co-workers and significant others. And even though the two are very flirtatious with one another, they are very devoted and in love with their other halves. Kate is with Chris (Livingston) and Luke is with Jill (Kendrick). While Jill and Luke occasionally discuss marriage, they both agree the timing is not right. Soon, the two couples paths cross and they eventually become good friends. Having planned a weekend at a cottage together, the couples prepare for a night amongst the wilderness, but are soon faced with difficult, life-altering decisions and situations. Trust me, it’s not what you think.

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Granted, there isn’t anything overly unique about the themes or settings, and the story is nothing we haven’t heard before. That being said, much like another dramatic rom-com released earlier this year entitled “The Way Way Back.” The familiarity and well-intended cliches sprinkled, intentionally throughout “Drinking Buddies” are overrun by subtle quips, endearing circumstances, and situational laughs carried out by enthralling, relatable characters and heavy, yet luminescent direction. Writer and director Joe Swanberg is superlative both behind the camera and on paper. This results in his most mature, complete offering to date, which is without question, his best. “Drinking Buddies” might come off a bit bland, appear uneventful, and the ending a little too ambiguous for those diluted by the horrid, hackneyed mainstream rom-coms. Nonetheless, to those who can handle the reality of looking in a mirror, “Drinking Buddies” is nothing short of spectacular.

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What I find to be the most original and well-utilized aspect of “Drinking Buddies” is Swanberg’s ability to poke fun at our vulnerability and stupidity as we succumb to this illusive, complex, intangible cohesiveness called love. Which, by the way, Swanberg portrays effectively and genuinely. I mean, he isn’t simply degrading what ultimately gives our life meaning without direction or purpose. The hilarity throughout “Drinking Buddies” has definition and is a “funny because it’s true” type of humour. While openly mocking our most weak, honest selves might seem a tad cruel. This film and its easily accessed connectivity is a much needed release, I’d even go as far as to brand it a muse. Although not out-loud, body-aching knee-slappers. Swanberg’s comedic prowess evokes an array of reaction and emotion that bewilders, uplifts, and saddens.

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Speaking of cohesiveness, it is something Swanberg and his brilliant cast ooze with. Starring the striking Olivia Wilde and graceful Anna Kendrick alongside the flexible, yet formidable duo of Ron Livingston and Jake Johnson. “Drinking Buddies” has performers and performances that radiate with talent and believability.

Undeniably, Olivia Wilde steals the show. She’s funny, smart, beautiful, heartbreaking, just to name a few off the top of my head. I hate to sound like I’m firing off a list of cliched personality traits used in every romantic comedy ever, but I can’t deprive you of the truth. Jake Johnson is nearly as impressive as Wilde, but is outdone, minimally albeit. His performance bursts with the wonder and yearning of a kid in love, mid free-fall. Everything about him is relatable, truthful, hilarious, and empathetic. Anna Kendrick is massively effective in her supporting role. No matter how enraged and disappointed you feel towards her character, she always lures you back into understanding and leaves you completely smitten. Livingston, although the least used, arguably provokes the most diverse reactions. He gives a phenomenal, thorough performance without hesitation or regret.

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Sweet, honest, and utterly entrancing. Joe Swanberg’s “Drinking Buddies” is the sleeper hit of 2013.

Drinking Buddies: 9 out of 10.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

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Establishing an exquisite symmetry between its smart, at times raunchy hilarity and disheartening insight into humanities innermost feelings. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a true romantic-comedy that is leaps and bounds beyond the genre’s usual trash. First time director Nicholas Stoller does a sublime job and manages to squeeze every last drop of comedic aptitude and emotional range from his tenacious cast. Using the tranquil and breathtaking Hawaii as its backdrop. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is always easy on the eyes whether it’s the scenery or cast, except for one, unexpected and exposed incident ;). Nonetheless, the authentic and unflinching look into the deterioration of relationships that writer Jason Segel has conjured up is something we’ve all experienced at one point or another. Which ultimately allows the audience to laugh uncontrollably at our own vulnerability and self-pity.

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Peter Bretter (Segel), a composer, is in a five year relationship with actress Sarah Marshall (Bell). Upon returning home from a shoot, Sarah ends the relationship with Peter. Unable to cope with the abrupt ending, Peter decides to go on a vacation to Hawaii. At the resort, Peter soon meets Rachel (Kunis), the hotel concierge. Upon finding out that Sarah and her new boyfriend Aldous Snow (Brand) are also staying at the resort, Peter begins to follow them around. Taking advice from his brother, Peter begins spending time with Rachel and the two develop feelings for one another. Soon, Sarah becomes jealous of Peter and Rachel and the two couples set out to destroy the other.

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What is most assuring about Forgetting Sarah Marshall is that even though it technically has Apatow written all over it. Aside from the producing credit, the film actually has little to no connection with him. I’m not discrediting Apatow, far from it. I’m very fond of his style and pictures. I am simply stating that the future of the genre looks a little brighter when he isn’t the only name in the game. Directed by Stoller and written by Segel. Forgetting Sarah Marshall has an abundance of fresh faces to bolster a sparse breed. It is excessively difficult to depict real-life scenarios and the ones who can are few and far between. Now, with a slew of up-and-comers that have this capability. Cinema doesn’t appear to be losing all meaning and depth. What Segel and Stoller have created is much bigger than they realize.

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Whether it is the witty, clever, or sheer idiotic humour. Jason Segel, best known for his role as Marshall in How I Met Your Mother, displays his ingenuity in spades. Although, it isn’t always his keen eye for laughs that makes the viewers insides ache. His ability to evoke an endless source of empathy, joy, sadness, spite, essentially all the relevance of existence is masterful. In coordination with the aforementioned Nicholas Stoller. Segel is able to form a cohesiveness around Forgetting Sarah Marshall that almost makes it free from error. As for Stoller, who’s direction as a first-timer is remarkable, makes up for any faltering. You’d wouldn’t figure it was his initiation into directing considering how accomplished his form behind the camera is. Together, the two create a formidable duo who’s next collaboration is much anticipated.

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I don’t really know the reason why I love this film. Essentially right from the get go I was smitten. Perhaps that I happened to be in a similar situation around the time of its release intoxicated me, but I digress. Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s sweet and funny cast really completes the film. Featuring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand. Without this complimenting foursome, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s ageless story would not have the emotion, hilarity, or flare in its potency. The film also features hilarious cameos from Bill Hader and Jonah Hill.

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If I’m being completely honest, to say that my respect for Kunis and Bell was restricted would be putting it lightly. In my defence, this film was released in 2008 and Black Swan hadn’t been released yet. Since then, my admiration for the two has grown significantly, thanks in large part to Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Cards on the table, Bell really hasn’t impressed me since. Now that she’s proven she has the chops, I expect more from her and she continues to do these idiotic romantic comedies. Regardless, Bell is extravagant in the film and deserves better than what she’s getting. As for Kunis, well, she really steals the show. Conveying such emotional range and this flirty charm, one can’t help but fall for her, easily the best performance in the film.

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It’s hard to imagine a time when Russell Brand wasn’t everywhere, but in 2008, this was the case. Until Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Brand pretty much flew under-the-radar. This was easily the role that launched Brand into a respectable actor and after following it up with Stoller’s next film, Get Him to the Greek, Brand proves it was no fluke. Finally, Jason Segel, who pulls double duty as the lead and writer of the film. Really gets a chance to assert himself amongst comedy’s best and doesn’t waste the opportunity. Segel’s performance is second only to Kunis, who honestly has the better written role. Segel does a superb job exuding the melancholic stupidity that usual accompanies heartbreak. Not to mention a series of sequences that allows him to showcase his dramatic skills. Overall, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s cast is nearly faultless in their portrayals.

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Outrageously funny and undeniably heartfelt. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a romantic comedy for the ages.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: 8.5 out of 10.

I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006)

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A film that transcends genre labelling with its innovation, ingenuity, and insanity. “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” is approximately a romantic comedy, but with dark, at times violent, and bizarre twists, containing moments that differ vastly on the cinematic spectrum. “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” ranges from deviously psychotic to sweetly honest, impassioned, and comical. Writer and director Chan-wook Park somewhat diverges from his usual business of trifling with the ugliness inside humanity to display a more compassionate, creative, and comedic side to his craft that isn’t all doom and gloom. Although its tone is highly unpredictable, shifting from affectionate and charming to tragic and unrestrained, “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” shouldn’t be too jarring for the occasional viewer. Charismatic, witty, and undeniably enthralling, Chan-wook Park has proven he isn’t just a one-trick pony.

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Young-goon works in a factory constructing radios and believes that she is a cyborg. She is institutionalized after she cuts her wrist, shoves a set of wires inside her forearm, and then plugs the cord into a wall outlet in an attempt to recharge herself. Young-goon refuses to eat and only licks batteries in order to recharge. Il-soon, who is also a patient, becomes infatuated with Young-goon. Il-soon thinks of himself as a master-thief and believes he can steal physical and personal traits of other humans. After a brief stage in which the two form an awkward relationship, the two begin to help one another with insane schemes.

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Very rarely does a film come along that is such a genuine hybrid. But it does make sense that it would come from the mind of Chan-wook Park. Who has busted stereotypical cinema on numerous occasions, including drama, horror and thriller. Now, with “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok,” Park tackles perhaps his most difficult challenge to date, the romantic comedy. This film is easily one of the most crazy, obscure, and confusing films I’ve ever come across, but it is also one of the best. I don’t think I’ve ever stumbled upon a film that evokes such emotional diversification as “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” does. While it may be paced slower than Park’s other outings, it is deliberate. During this screen-time, “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” stretches the viewer’s brain by provoking countless reactions and striking numerous nerves, a truly unprecedented experience.

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Chan-wook Park is one of the most iconic, revered, and important filmmakers of our time and “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” is a terrific example why. Park brilliantly showcases every single one of his illustrious facets throughout this atypical rom-com. Whether it may be his grounded, elemental framing that captures even the slightest detail and movement of his characters or the disheartening brutality of his dynamic scripts. Regardless, what truly makes Park such a praised figure in the cinematic community is his ability to evolve. After completing the “Vengeance” trilogy and generally sticking to darker pictures with heavy, brooding themes. Chan-wook Park unpredictably chose to unleash this hidden gem. While it remains true to his brute force and unruly material. “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” touches so many fresh ideals and bursts genre and theme misconceptions.

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The cast assembled for “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” is remarkably put together, as there is not a single weakness. From its two quirky, maladjusted leads down to every patient and caretaker at this unsettling asylum we’ve been invited to take temporary residence in. The supporting characters alone make “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” worth the watch. They astoundingly portray mental illness accurately but add a comical, yet heartbreaking depth and  individuality to each role that generates unlimited sympathy and laughs from the audience. Kudos should also be given to the actors who portray the doctors and nurses in the film who perfectly adapt to their roles.

Nonetheless, “I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok” has only two leads and they are Jung Ji-Hoon and Im Soo-jung. Essentially what makes Jung Ji-Hoon and Im Soo-Jung work so well together is their ability to feed off one another’s unbalanced behaviour and lunacy. The two have an undeniable chemistry filled with demented and sociopathic tendencies. Despite these flaws, they manage to portray an eccentric, dysfunctional relationship to full comedic and emotional potential.

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From the unparalleled mind of Chan-wook Park comes this incredibly unique experience that should appease just about any cinephile.

I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK: 9 out of 10.

Knocked Up (2007)

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Outrageously hilarious, satisfyingly poignant, and spewing with talent. Knocked up is a fresh take on the odd-couple cliche with just enough raunchiness, growth, and sweetness to win over even the most skeptical or disgruntled viewer. While it may not be sending the best message on courtship. Knocked up is a romantic comedy that has adapted to the times and through all its mishaps and immaturity, ultimately does right by convention and emotion. Taking full advantage of its sleazy premise to subtly convey socio-political themes to an uninhibited generation. Knocked up has the ideal balance of comedy, romance, and relevance to be taken seriously by its viewers while still remaining vastly entertaining. Written and directed by prolific genre advocate and veteran Judd Apatow. Knocked Up is an obscure love-story about two unexpected parents dealing with the unpredictability of life.

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Ben Stone (Rogen) is a laid-back slacker who lives off funds he received as compensation for an injury he suffered earlier in his life. He lives with several roommates and works on a porn website they all own and operate. Alison Scott (Heigl), an on-air reporter, lives in the pool house of her sister home. The two meet by chance at a club and spend a night together, which ends with them having sex. After some time has passed, Alison finds out she is pregnant and is persuaded by her mother to abort the baby. Upon deciding to keep the baby, Alison informs Ben of the situation and that he is the father. What follows is an unflinching look at relationships and life.

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Even though some of Apatow’s overly stereotypical and decidedly vulgar humour may turn the occasional viewer off. The timing and circumstance in which these crude, at times foreseeable jokes are delivered is undeniably impeccable and results in out-loud fits of laughter. Aside from Apatow’s comedic preferences which is, without question an acquired taste. His ability to mask the simplicity and triviality of his characters predicaments is unrivalled. It would be easy to confuse the commonness of Knocked Up as weakness and label it unintelligent. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. Apatow’s clever, insightful story showcases his diverse range. It seems that he is always making something out of nothing. Whether it’s an awkwardly shy young adult shaving his nether regions or two intoxicated adults absorbing the night life, Apatow finds the silver lining.

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Apart from the fact that Apatow’s most recent efforts haven’t been as strong as his earlier work. His scripts have always remained grounded and charming, and Knocked Up is no different. The follow-up to the massively successful, The 40 Year Old Virgin. Knocked Up never loses sight of its characters aspirations or history, no matter how bizarre and sociopathic they may be. Knocked Up is Apatow’s most complete, honest, and endearing effort to date. His quirky, intelligent, and heartfelt script really puts Knocked Up a notch above the rest. However, without the right cast to accompany such odd, complex roles beaming with hilarity and emotional depth. Knocked Up would become another meaningless entry into a genre that becomes less and less respected with each new, half-assed release. Thank heavens that this is not the case.

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One of the most rewarding aspects of compiling a cast with history is never having to worry about chemistry. The majority of Knocked Up’s cast has previously worked together on earlier Apatow projects such as Freaks and Geeks and The 40 Year Old Virgin. Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, and Jonah Hill. Plus a slew of other big name stars. Knocked Up has arguably one of the most prominent and comedically talented casts to ever grace a romantic comedy. Side note, there is also a hilarious cameo from James Franco.

It was quite the surprise to see the range Rogen has in his repertoire, considering he doesn’t use it very often. For Knocked Up, Rogen, without question gives the most vulnerable, believable performance. Sporting a face ripe with the fear, love, and courage. Rogen perfectly captures the unsteady eagerness of a soon-to-be parent. As for Rogen’s co-star, Katherine Heigl. She offers a splendid rendition of an individualistic, tough feminist brought to the brink of her sanity. Pushing her body mentally and physically to the limit, Heigl gives a truly outstanding performance.

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With an astounding script, lively performances, and strong direction. Knocked Up is a touching romantic comedy full of hilarity.

Knocked Up: 9 out of 10.

Juno (2007)

Just a quick review today guys, sorry about that. I am rather busy but I will soon return to business as usual. I hope you enjoy this review. Juno is one of my all time favourites. Have a great weekend!

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A coming-of-age rom-com that focuses more on the heartbreak than the laughter. Juno’s relentless quirkiness, philosophical depth, and political shades are vastly entertaining, yet alarming and enclosing. But conversely, are a much welcomed and appreciated cinematic suffocation. Juno might appear to be harmless and vindicated on the surface…In retrospect, underneath its harmless exterior is a set of disturbing and harsh realities. Not everything about this unorthodox film is doom and gloom. The vibrant, bitter story is carried along by a light, rather breezy hilarity that’s closer to masking the fallacy of invisible innocence than outrightly distracting the viewer from it. Containing a script filled with oddities, performances that mar the line of morality, and innovative direction. Juno is a romantic comedy for past, present, and future generations to come.

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Sometime in autumn, Juno (Page), a 16-year-old high school student living in Minnesota, discovers she is pregnant. The father is Paulie Bleeker (Cera), a fellow classmate and friend whom she spent one night in a big chair having sexual relations. Juno decides to have the unborn child aborted at a local clinic. But upon arriving, Juno has a sudden change of heart and decides to give birth and give the baby to a couple willing to adopt. After an extensive search, Juno finds the perfect parents in Mark (Bateman) and Vanessa (Garner). When all the papers are signed, Juno continues on with her schooling and life as planned, waiting to give birth. What she doesn’t realize is the physical and emotional toll the next 9 months will force upon her.

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Harnessing the charisma, honesty, and charming irregularities of its shy, solidified cast. Juno features Michael Cera, Ellen Page, and Jason Bateman as the funny, at times troubled leads. With Jennifer Garner, Alison Janney, and J.K Simmons supporting as they exude their usual comedic genius. By a wide margin, Page takes top spot for her performance as Juno. As the lead, Page is forced to deal with, not only a significant body change, but also an unprecedented, rapid ascent into maturity and she captures these facets in their entirety, effortlessly. Following up Page is Bateman who’s a close runner up. Showcasing a much more artistic and serious side to his usual hilarity. Bateman is incredible as a confused, helpless, deviant looking for an escape. Cera doesn’t diverge from his typical behaviour and believably falls for the girl, hard. As a unit, Juno’s ensemble couldn’t have performed any more faultless.

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Diablo Cody, writer of Juno, and director Jason Reitman give new life to a failing genre. With a unique sense of humour and circumstances that break the mould, Juno is cinematic evolution. Reitman and Cody up the ante by forging an encompassing situation that affects not only the typical protagonists in a rom-com. But residually, albeit indirectly dismantles anyone who’s connected. Reitman’s staggering ability to consume a story’s identity and regurgitate it to his viewers in a emotional, meaningful, visually spectacular way is worthy of unconditional appreciation. Juno is existing proof that you don’t need to break the bank or complicate the story to make a film that sticks in the viewers mind. Using what it has to make the viewer laugh, cry, and appreciate what is truly important, Juno is a modern classic.

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Showing the intricacy in what is seemingly a simply event. Juno’s implicitly and adoring nature is worthy of the audiences heartfelt endearment and empathy.

Juno: 9 out of 10.

Adventureland (2009)

Just a quick review today as I am off to Niagara Falls for the weekend. I’ll more than likely post tomorrow as well but it will probably be a bit later than my usual posting time. Anyway, enjoy and have a great weekend!

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Bursting at the seams with nostalgia, wit, humour, and seductiveness. Adventureland is a rambunctious, yet sweetly subtle coming-of-age romantic comedy oozing with angst and clever diction that resonates not only with young ones, but adults as well. Investing a substantial amount in the directionless, hormone driven motivations of youth, their lack of aspirations, and facing the difficult transition into adulthood. Adventureland benefits from an idealistic, simplistic nature and a slew of staggering performances. Greg Mottola, who wrote and directed this retro love story. Substitutes the profanity and raunchiness of his previous effort Superbad, with a tale of heartfelt infatuation and whimsical comedy that even seizes its timeless cliches.

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In the year 1987, James (Eisenberg) plans to travel through Europe in the summer before heading off to attend an Ivy League school. After graduation, his parents inform him of their major career setbacks and that he will not be going to Europe or doing any of his future endeavours unless he obtains a job. Upon being rejected at almost every decent place of employment, James manages to find a place in the rundown amusement park, Adventureland. When James faces an unlikely, possibly dangerous situation, he is rescued by a striking co-worker named Em (Stewart). As he continues to struggle through the summer, he finds himself falling for Em. Finding caring, reliable friends in other various employees as well as Paulette (Wiig) and Bobby (Hader), who are Adventureland managers. James begins to find his current situation not only tolerable, but favourable. Befriending a machine repair man named Mike (Reynolds), James begins to learn life lessons as he transfers into adulthood.

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Absorbing the comical imperfections and endearing elements of Adventureland’s charismatic leads inflicts a dizzying, subdued, ageless state among the viewer. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Ryan Reynolds supported, rather, accompanied by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, Adventureland has no shortage of capable employees. Eisenberg’s quirky, bordering sociopathic awkwardness is entrancingly comical and infectious. Reynolds, who’s role is ingeniously uncharacteristic, is predictably stellar as his performance is particularly polarizing and deviously convincing. Hader and Wiig, in limited roles, still manage to produce the most uproarious laughs and also showcase their more serious, professional talents. As for Stewart, she unleashes pheromones that will leave you defenceless and willingly vulnerable to her undeniable attractiveness and warmth.

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One of the more outstanding qualities about Adventureland, albeit, lesser known qualities is its fluidity and authenticity. Never, at any point, does the dialogue, interactions, or story ever appear forced. This is imperative to a film that so broadly relies on the believability of its circumstances and  connectivity of its cast. This can be attributed to Mottola’s invested, realistic script and firm, but flexible direction. He elegantly captures the distinct vibe and flow of the films intentional historic feel and exaggerates the situation to unnecessary severity. His ability to control the captivation his immature characters want so recklessly to exist is remarkable. Coincidentally, the reason Adventureland resonates so strongly with its audience is evoked through the time and effort poured into the film in its entirety by the cast and crew.

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Adventureland: 9 out of 10.

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Midnight in Paris (2011)

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Leaving a lot for the imagination to ponder and envy. Woody Allen’s clever, insightful, magical Midnight in Paris is what fantasies are made of. Full of inspiration and romance, Allen returns to top form with this gem. Venturing through time, showcasing the who’s who in arts and literature, Midnight in Paris is an enjoyable history lesson. Garnering four Oscar nominations in 2012 and earning a victory for best original screenplay, Midnight in Paris is ripe with invention and individuality. Reviving the likes of Earnest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and T. S. Elliot, amongst other countless, unrivalled talents. Midnight in Paris is a writers wet dream. Leading the way through the wormhole is Owen Wilson who is supported by the beautiful and talented Rachel McAdams. Midnight in Paris also features terrific supporting performances from Michael Sheen, Tom Hiddleston, Adrien Brody, and the effervescent Marion Cotillard. Directed and written by the aforementioned Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris’s hallowed glow emits a calming, entrancing warmth.

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Gil (Wilson) and Inez (McAdams) tag-along on their parents business trip to Paris. Gil, who is a successful writer in Hollywood would like to make a change and begin writing novels. At first glance, he falls in love with Paris and insists he and Inez move their permanently. Inez does not agree with Gil’s infatuation with Paris or his notion that the 1920’s is the golden age. Gil is left alone for the night when Inez goes dancing with her friends. Gil decides to take a walk through Paris at midnight hoping it will spark his imagination. When the unthinkable happens, Gil is transported into a world filled with his wildest fantasies. This might be the break Gil is looking for, but it also might destroy his relationship with Inez.

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Allen’s satirical, ironic twists on the rom-com genre have never been more intoxicating. Blending the feverish, impulsive, hopeless romance and the disheartening reality of its lowering priority level amongst our social and political commercialism is ingenious. Allen hasn’t conceived a story this idealistic and unique since his 2008 release of Vicky Christina Barcelona. In that span of three years, he released two films, both misses. However, all is forgiven and forgotten with Midnight in Paris. I’ll contently digest the bad in order to obtain the good, and this good is an acquired and particular taste. Midnight in Paris’s easygoing, eccentric, fruitful completeness is a pleasant sedative that lulls the viewer into the bewildering perplexity of cinemas intended stupefaction.

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Midnight in Paris might cater to a certain level of expectancy, which might be off putting to some. It is fully plausible to understand how one might find Midnight in Paris presumptuous and founded upon pretentiousness. On the contrary, it has no intention of condescending to any viewer. A facet of Allen’s brilliance is the simplicity in Midnight in Paris. There is no overcompensation or unnecessary explanation for the time travelling aspect and as a viewer, among many, there is no need or desire to question the implication. Midnight in Paris is enjoyable and easily comprehended, regardless of a factual explanation. All the tools needed to connect with Midnight in Paris are traits of the human body. Laugh, weep, or spite, Midnight in Paris is one of the easiest films to adore that you’ll ever come by.

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To my surprise, Owen Wilson did not earn an acting nomination at the 2012 Oscars for his role in Midnight in Paris. His performance is distinguished by the subtlety of his comedic indifference radiating from slight body movements and facial expressions. This is the most effective Owen Wilson has been since 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited, possibly even further back to 2005 with Wedding Crashers. In a surprising change of pace, McAdams undertakes the role of a villain in Midnight in Paris, or maybe that’s just my interpretation. However, coming from me, someone who’s bordering adoration for McAdams is teetering towards obsession, to say that she’s the antagonist, it must be a powerful performance. Finally, Cotillard continues her North American domination with another outstanding effort. In the film, she is the reason we search for love. To sit here and nitpick the impeccable supporting performances from Hiddleston, Brody, Sheen, and Kathy Bates seems pointless. It’s hard to argue perfection when it is only on display for minutes at a time. Take their track records and my word for it, they’re terrific.

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In conclusion, just to be clear, I was joking about my McAdams obsession. I simply enjoy her films and performances, as well as think about her night and day…kidding. Midnight in Paris has the comedy and emotion to back up its boastful endeavours and melancholic moments.

Midnight in Paris: 8.5 out of 10.