REVIEW: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Crazy Stupid Love
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra and John Rehqua
Written by: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon

Awkwardly titled, Crazy, Stupid, Love is quickly able to overcome its likely audience pandering label, genre conventions and doubt in a strange arrangement of casting. The film is short of crazy, far from stupid and talks more than enough about love.

Whatever one’s expectations of Steve Carrell’s latest comedy are, they are sure to ditch them within the first scene when Cal Weaver (Carrell) underreacts to news of his wife demanding a divorce at date night. A short time later Cal finds himself in a posh youth hang out where he watches in awe of other men scrambling up women while he sips his cranberry and vodka through a straw. His drunken antics soon draw the attention of hotshot Jacob Palmer (Gosling) who offers to turn his sad life around and get women for no other reason than to move the plot along Hitch-style. Continue reading

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: Amélie

Amélie
Directed by: Jean Pierre-Jeunet
Written by: Guillaume Laurant & Jean Pierre-Jeunet
Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Serge Merlin, and Clotilde Mollet

Deep despair, insightful narcissism, impossibly cultured people- these are all things associated with French cinema.  Though our overseas friends gave us the new wave, these things rode the surf as well.  American cinema has tried since the birth of the French new wave to implement it as carelessly as such French staples as Breathless and The 400 Blows.  What a strange, wonderful phenomenon it is that French filmmaker Jean Pierre-Jeunet turns French cinema on its head yet again with Amélie.

Amélie is as free-spirited, uplifting, and gracious as the protagonist its title speaks of (Audrey Tautou).  Rarely does a movie tackle optimism as straightforwardly as this, and it’s something new for the often dark and brooding films associated with French cinema.  During its more than two hour run time, Pierre-Jeunet’s film manages to make a mundane, normal life seem enthralling thanks to a hilarious, charming and original screenplay and some of the best visuals the cinema has ever seen.

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