REVIEW: Friends With Benefits

Friends With Benefits
Directed by: Will Gluck
Written by: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, & Will Gluck (screenplay)
Starring: Mila Kunis, Justin Timberlake, Patricia Clarkson, and Woody Harrelson

It’s always a good thing when a modern romance reminds you of the classics, when men and women bounced snappy dialogue off each other as if they were both real people.  Most romances made today are lop-sided, usually skewering one gender role in the hopes of appealing to the other.  Friends With Benefits is straightforward in its intentions much like its two leads are with each other.  It is seeking to debunk and even satirize the myth of true love presented in the movies, and it is very successful at that until it reluctantly caves in to those same cliches.

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are the perfect match for the verbal ping pong in the script and off-kilter enough to make the movie’s intentions palpable.  They are naturally funny and have exceptional chemistry, so they and the rest of the excellent cast shine even brighter in a funny screenplay.  It also helps that the director and co-writer Will Gluck knows that creating a sense of atmosphere in New York City is more important than any shot of the Empire State Building.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached
Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Elizabeth Meriwether
Starring: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline

Now more than ever is it hard to believe that the director of rich character pieces like Juno and Up in the Air is the descendant of Ivan Reitman, the director who gave us Ghost Busters, My Super Ex Girlfriend and now this movie.

While his son Jason Reitman frequents himself at award ceremonies for his films with scripts — ones that he often writes himself and is noted for — and story that go beyond his contemporary and minimalistic filming style, Ivan has been piling up money directing a handful of forgettable film and producing even more.

His latest work is No Strings Attached, a film no different from the rest. Pairing Ashton Kutcher with recent Academy Award winner Natalie Portman in Hollywood’s latest “just friends who have sex” romantic comedy. The trend of these films is at a jam-packed time, with Love & Other Drugs and this summer’s Friends With Benefits­. The latter bringing Justin Timberlake and Portman’s Black Swan co-star Mila Kunis together for a similar sexploitation. Continue reading

BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Black Swan

Black Swan
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heintz, & John J. McLaughlin
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey

Perfection: chased to the elegant stage by way of the not-so-elegant back rooms.  That is the goal viewers watch Nina (Natalie Portman) hurt, bleed, and dance, dance, dance toward  in Darren Aronofsky’s hallucinatory Black Swan.

Aronofsky, fast becoming one of American cinema’s brightest renegades and fiercest visionaries, has never been shy about making you feel his characters’ pain.  By removing all distance between you and them by rapid cutting and frantic pacing, you feel a kinetic connection to their turmoil.

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REVIEW: Black Swan

Black Swan
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Mark Heyman, Andres Heintz, & John J. McLaughlin
Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Barbara Hershey

Perfection: chased to the elegant stage by way of the not-so-elegant back rooms.  That is the goal viewers watch Nina (Natalie Portman) hurt, bleed, and dance, dance, dance toward  in Darren Aronofsky’s hallucinatory Black Swan.

Aronofsky, fast becoming cinema’s brightest renegade and fiercest visionary, has never been shy about making you feel his characters’ pain.  By removing all distance between you and them by rapid cutting and frantic pacing, you feel a kinetic connection to their turmoil.

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REVIEW: Date Night

Date Night
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Written by: Josh Klausner
Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg, and Tariji P. Henson

Modern comedy is often found in the silence, not the punchline.  It’s usually the uttering of a few colorful adjectives followed by an awkward stammer or glare.  When done right, on TV shows like The Office and 30 Rock, it is hilarious.  Date Night plucks its two stars from those two modern TV milestones to try and inject a little bit of comedic energy into a script much in need of it.

Steve Carell and Tina Fey play Phil and Claire Foster, a self-proclaimed boring suburban couple.  They are comatose, floating around like a slapstick version of the Burnham family from American Beauty.  Then, thanks to some blatant plot doctoring, they are forced on a life-or-death journey into a New York that is oozing with corruption and filled with vermin played by famous actors.

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