Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

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Yes Man

November 19, 2010

Yes Man

This film is typical, boring, romantic comedy.  It might have a highlight or two, but for the most part, it falls flat with little to nothing new.  This film is about Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel being Zooey Deschanel.  Both of them are fine as themselves, but the same old over the top schtick that Carrey does, and the sweet free willed girl that Deschanel always does, doesn’t lend itself to anything new and or original.

The story starts out with a bland character portrayed by Jim Carrey, who works in a bank, approving loans, and doesn’t approve any of them, in fact, he doesn’t say yes to anything.  And then, he finds out about this magic program, in which he says yes to anything and everything, and all of a sudden his life changes, for the better.  So he decides to say yes to everything for a whole year.  During this time he falls for Zooey Deschanel’s character and things are going fine, until his saying yes to everything gets him into trouble with her, and they break up.  So, he goes to find the guy who told him to say yes to everything, to find out why things aren’t going as swimmingly as they were before, and the man tells him, that his yes method isn’t about saying yes to everything, but not being afraid to say yes, and not being afraid to change, and to say yes to things that make sense.  So Jim Carrey’s character does that, and he wins back Deschanel’s character.

When it comes down to it, the story is so bland and predictable that no one really would have been able to save it.  Even Danny Masterson of That 70’s Show fame and Bradley Cooper, from The Hangover, who are funny in their own right can’t even help this sinking ship.  And Zooey Deschanel and Jim Carrey make it worse.  Carrey plays his loud over the top self in a role that it can work for with better material and a different lead with him.  Zooey Deschanel is probably screwed when it comes to acting.  She always plays the same character, the really sweet, artsy, nice, hippie type of character who is too calm, and I am not actually sure she can play anything else (see The Happening).  And it just gets annoying in this film, even when she is supposed to be sad and angry and Carrey’s character, she just seems lethargic.

Like I have already said, you could have had Spielberg direct this film, but because the story was so bland and sappy, it wouldn’t have made any difference.  But when it comes down to it, Peyton Reed is known for this type of romantic schlock which generally does fairly well in theaters, so I guess, more power to him.  Visually this film is meh, it is what you expect from a romcom.  The scoring of this film is fine, but again, what you expect from a romcom with Zooey Deschanel in it.

This is a film that I strongly recommend skipping.  There are many decent romantic comedies out there, but this isn’t one of them.  It is boring, overdone, and predictable in every sense.  Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel aren’t worth seeing in this film, and there is no real redeeming factor.  That isn’t to say that people won’t enjoy it, but unless you live for romantic comedies, skip this one, because it offers nothing new.

Entertainment Grade: C-

Critical Grade: D

Overall Grade: D+

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

September 30, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

This film wonderfully blends the comic books which it was based from into a visual world of action, adventure, comedy and romance.  It stays very true to the books and creates an indie pop kind of feel to the film without being pretentious about it and then blows you away with wildly entertaining action sequences which blend classic comic book style action into the world of film action nearly seamlessly.

The story is that of one Scott Pilgrim, age 23, who is dating a high schooler, age 17.  Things are going fine, they have a very tame relationship with Knives, the high schooler, is Scott’s rebound, but Scott is to timid to actually rebound, and he plays in a band called Sex Bob-omb (a Mario reference).  Things start to go wrong when a new girl, Ramona Flowers, happens to rollerblade through Scott’s mind while he sleeps.  The next day, while he is on a date with Knives, he sees Ramona in real life and becomes obsessed with her and tries to figure out who she is and track her down.  He does and asks her out, only after they have gone out, he finds out he has to defeat her seven evil ex’s.  This is where the story takes off as Scott has take them on and defeat them one by one.

The acting works really well in this film.  Michael Cera, of Arrested Development (or more likely Superbad) fame, does a great job in this film.  It is a fairly typical and awkward role for him, but that is what the character is supposed to be, and he can play that to a tee.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead takes on the role of Ramona Flowers, and she isn’t as memorable as some of the other characters, but her character is meant to be fairly aloof at times and disinterested and disconnect in some ways from the world, and you get that feel as it doesn’t connect as well with the audience.  Ellen Wong does a very good job as Knives being another fairly memorable character, she is very sweet and plays well into the comic book side of the film.  Alison Pill, Johnny Simmons, and Mark Webber do very good jobs as Scott’s friends and band mates.  Their roles are smaller than some of the others, but still entertaining.  Anna Kendrick is fun as Scott’s extremely nosy sister, and Aubrey Plaza does a good job in playing a similar sort of role as a friend of Scott’s.  The real show stealer, though, is Kieran Culkin who is simply hilarious as Scott’s roommate.  He is funny and droll and an all around busy body who is funny in every scene that he is in.

Visually is what really  makes this film.  Edgar Wright, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead fame, does a brilliant job with this film.  It is difficult to describe how closely he sticks to the story and makes this film feel like the comic that it came from.  There are “kapow”s and little snide graphics inserted into this film like they are inserted into the books.  When the evil ex’s are vanquished, they turn into coins and Scott gets points.  Scott levels up and gets an extra life.  The extra life is an old 8 or 16 bit style life, but it fits in perfectly with the film.  And the action scenes are so over the top that they are funny but extremely well done.  Visually this film just pops off the screen and it is nice that they didn’t try and make it 3D, because while it would seemingly lend itself to doing something like that, making just bits and pieces 3D wouldn’t have been all that great.  The music in this film works pretty well, the songs by the bands in the film are great, and at times the other music can be a bit annoying, as it is generally very indie, but it works with the feel of the film.

A film that is worth checking out even for the style that it is shot in.  It won’t appeal to the mass audience, but it does everything really well from the story, the acting, and the technical standpoints of the film.  But because it is really quite geeky, not everyone will appreciate the odd type of humor that it shows off.  If you do understand and appreciate the geek humor, it will be hard not to love this film.

Entertainment Grade: B+

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B+

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Atonement

April 21, 2010

Atonement

Atonement

This is one of my favorite romances of all time, I’d argue that Casablanca is a romance more then a drama or anything else, so that would go as number one, but Joe Wright has made a brilliant romance.  This story hast he same beauty in the style that his previous work, Pride and Prejudice did and he works with some of the same talent again getting more brilliant performances.

The story is that of love and betrayal going through several different time periods.  It starts in the English countryside where Cecilia Tallis is part of the upper class living in her family estate along with her younger sister Briony.  Both of them have feelings for one of the hands on the estate, Robbie Turner, but with Briony being only 13 and Cecilia and Robbie being older, Briony has no chance.  One evening, before a dinner party, Briony comes across Cecilia and Robbie in each others arms and Briony, in a fit of jealousy, lies and accuses Robbie of committing a crime that happens, but one that he did not commit.   With Brionys standing because of her family, even though she is only 13 and Robbie being nothing more the help, the police arrest Robbie and he is put into prison for four years.  He is granted an early release if he joins the British armed forces and he does to become part of the troops who go to France to halt the Nazi advances.  I fear that is as far as I’m going to reveal the plot as there is a nice twist in the film that is very touching and you will need to see it for yourself.  But based off of a novel by Ian McEwan, this is a brilliantly told story.

The acting in this film is extremely well done.  Keira Knightley takes on the role of Cecilia, working for a second time with Joe Wright, and she gives a very good performance.  She has a very proper feel about the way she acts the role which works wonderfully with the type of life that she grew up with.  Briony is played by multiple actresses, due to jumps in the time line, but the best performance of her is definitely be Saoirse Ronan.  Ronan was actually nominated for a supporting actress role in this film and while none of her performances since this role have lived up to this standard, she is a very solid up and coming actress.  Romola Garai takes on the role of an 18 year old Briony, but her performance doesn’t match up to that of the younger Ronan.  It is still a solid performance and believable as an older Briony, but the talent level shown off by the two isn’t the same.  James McAvoy takes on the role of Robbie Turner and gives another solid performance.  In comparison to the performance of Ronan and Knightley, McAvoy isn’t as strong, but he doesn’t falter compared to them either.  The rest of the performances are solid, but the film really is locked onto these three characters as the story does completely revolve around them.

Visually this is a stunning film.  Joe Wright shows off the English countryside again in this film and gets it to come to life.  Even in his grand sweeping shots there is beauty that works along side the beauty of the story.  The music in this film is phenomenally done as well.  Dario Marianelli wrote the original score for this film, and it is simply beautiful complimenting every scene as it goes and displaying the wide range of emotion shown throughout this film.  Joe Wright gets everything to work together in this film.

This is a film that I highly recommend.  Some might say, it is a romance and therefore more of a film for chicks,and some macho guys will definitely not appreciate it as much, but that is there loss.  This film is wonderfully crafted telling a great story.  It works visually and the acting is extremely good as well.  This film is an example of how everything can work together and a masterpiece can be created.

Entertainment Grade: B (why so low, because it isn’t an easy film to watch all the time, it is well made and will keep your attention, but is a very serious film)

Critical Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

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Pride and Prejudice

April 7, 2010

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s classic novel comes to life in this 2005 adaptation by Joe Wright.  It is a beautiful film.  The story flows wonderfully, the visuals are simply stunning, and the acting performances are very good.

The story adheres closely to the original book by Jane Austen.  Having not read it, I’m going based off of what others have told me and seeing the A&E special, which was brilliantly done.  It is hard to compare the stories between the two since this version is two hours as compared to five hours with the A&E version.  The story of the five sisters who are looking for love and basically living their lives in Georgian England.  It combines subtle sarcastic humor, with drama, and with a few different romantic trysts.

The acting is very solid.  The lead performance by Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, the second oldest sister in the Bennet family.  Knightley is a good actress, but she really shines in these period pieces and under the direction of Joe Wright.  They collaborate on Atonement as well.  Carey Mulligan, who should be coming a household name after her performance in An Education, plays one of the younger sisters, Kitty Bennet.  Her performance isn’t the most memorable in this film, but it is solid, and in terms of talent, she is the next best actress.  The rest of the talent in this film is relatively unknown.  However, none of the performances are poor at all.  Dame Judy Dench is a solid performance in this film, but a smaller performance.

Visually, Joe Wright, is a very good performer.  He does a good job creating the atmosphere of Georgia England, and it is very entertaining, that way.  It is a wide sweeping film with lots of grand shots of the rolling English countryside.  This works well for this type of film works well for the time period of film in which it is set.  It is a slow paced film and the wide shots like that work extremely well.

This film is a well constructed film overall.  It does lose some of the humor and subtly that shows up in the A&E version.  It was very entertaining as a whole, and the acting talent is probably better.  This is a film that most guys can enjoy, but for obvious reason it is good film for girls.  The humor itself makes it worth checking out as Jane Austen is good at adding sarcastic humor in the story.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B+