Tour de force performance from Jenny Slate. She may be the nasally… MoreTour de force performance from Jenny Slate. She may be the nasally Jewish princess on "Parks & Recreation" and the baby-cute Marcel the Shell, but girl's got range. Slate carries this movie as Donna, a stand-up comedienne who gets pregnant from a one-night stand and decides to have an abortion. Her stand-up is raunchy but candid, her vulnerability is quirky yet tragic, and her "flustration" is sweetly abashed. A cast of adorable supporting characters also lends this quarter-life crisis movie a dash of light optimism.
What's also great about this story is that it's truly unpredictable. Is she going to get the abortion? Is she going to fall in love with this new vanilla bean beau? Some viewers might think Max is unrealistic - too understanding and too patient - but Max and Donna clearly have great chemistry. He likes her; he's not just there to further her story. Everything that needs to happen happens, but none of it is too cooked.
Rather delightful. The theme of the power of music on love and… MoreRather delightful. The theme of the power of music on love and friendship is more substantial in this film than in John Carney's "Once," which was more a series of amateur music videos. A pastiche of down-and-out musicians make a guerrilla album on the streets of NYC. Lovers break up over the temptations of music industry fame. Estranged father and daughter bond. Former lovers reach a cathartic goodbye that is neither too sad nor too happy.
I really enjoy the first date idea of walking while listening to each other's favorite songs, but Gretta's guilty pleasures of "Luck Be a Lady" and "As Time Goes By" are such cliché beloved classics. Also, Miriam's assessment of her teen daughter Violet's risqué clothing choices as her own is at least empowering and fair at first, but that gets stripped away later when Gretta plays big sister and subtly slut shames Violet. Hailee Steinfeld's smoker-voiced loner girl seemed complex, so I was hoping Violet would be a bit more self-possessed.
And of course, it has long pained me to admit that in the past five years, I've grown to prefer Keira Knightley over her doppelganger Natalie Portman, but maybe I just have to own the pleasure of enjoying Keira in her willowy hipster chic roles. She's quite normal-girl charming again. Her singing voice is a bit weak - not quite as old-school robust as in "Edge of Love" - but it's light and sweet enough for the indie folk genre.
Seth MacFarlane is a versatile seriocomedic actor with a delicious… MoreSeth MacFarlane is a versatile seriocomedic actor with a delicious basso voice, and Charlize Theron is a hip chick with surprisingly great deadpan timing. He can sing; she can dance. Is there anything they can't do? The anachronistic quips about life in the Old West are funny, and the commentary on Beta Male cowardice has a redeeming resolution, but on the whole, the plot is a bit forgettable. I was also hoping Amanda Seyfried would channel her Karen daffiness from "Mean Girls" to make Louise a more compelling ex-girlfriend character.
Three headstrong single women in idyllic Eastwick wish for their dream… MoreThree headstrong single women in idyllic Eastwick wish for their dream beaux, and a devilish new stranger comes to town to seduce them in turn. Cher, Sarandon, and Pfeiffer are brassy, sensual, and sweet, respectively, and Jack Nicholson is the epitome of the diabolical wag.
Daryl van Horne spouts some base misogyny, which has the potential to be clever and satirical if only there were some wink at the audience. The trio of women gets their revenge through sorcery, but they still raise Daryl's lovechildren and treat him as merely an exasperating, absentee father rather than quashing his sacrilegious doctrine, defeating him for good, or at least spurning him for the Satan proxy he is.
Upon learning that this movie was adapted from a novel by John Updike, a writer I admire, I expected the hijinx to lead to something deeper. Is Daryl a Satan proxy or a God proxy? Daryl rants about how he gave the girls everything, and then when they forsake him, he will seek retribution. Isn't that the depiction of a vengeful and wrathful God? Is the satire on how often godliness and wickedness coincide? Well, apparently the original novel was intended as a feminist manifesto (even though the women are represented as actual witches), but there isn't much in the way of theological commentary, so I don't know what to make of book or film.
This movie starts out with heated sociopolitical debate and a great… MoreThis movie starts out with heated sociopolitical debate and a great feminist role model, but then brassy, independent Katie devolves into Overly Attached Girlfriend - fawning over Hubbell, the poor little rich boy with a streak of writing talent, who buys her a beer and patronizingly ties her freakin' shoe? (I hate all shoe-tying imagery in art! I hate it when looks-so-much-like-his-dead-mother Ginny does it to Harry Potter. I hate it when Ted does it to baby-talking Boats-Boats-Boats Becky on HIMYM. I surprisingly don't mind glass slipper symbology because it's quick, okay? You just slip it on. "It's the condom of our generation." Tying a shoe is a ham-handed, Oedipal commitment of a romantic gesture.)
Anyway, Katie essentially rapes him and ropes him into falling in love with her, but she's made to apologize so much for her tempestuousness and "wrong style" while Robert Redford's dead eyes glaze over in a masquerade of privileged, white, liberal ennui.
The flashback structure of the film's beginning is also wasted. I thought YEARS had gone by before they meet again and that the whole movie would be about their college relationship and "the way they were"... The movie gets so episodic after that inciting incident, documenting every bit of grueling conflict contributing to their doomed partnership.
A donnee or redemption moment nearly appears when Katie shouts, "You'll never find anyone as good for you as I am, to believe in you as much as I do or to love you as much!" but it's too late. They're still wrong for each other, but we're never given a convincing enough reason in the script or the performances for why they got together in the first place and why they stayed together for so long. And he never meets their daughter? Weird.
Highlight is Barbra Streisand's soaring mezzo-soprano in Marvin Hamlisch's titular song.
Geesh. So I read the book, and it's fine. Its themes of love and… MoreGeesh. So I read the book, and it's fine. Its themes of love and death aren't particularly deep or new; in fact, they are a bit contradictory and a mishmash of different philosophies. Hazel is fine. Without the easy literary trait of strength-and-detachment-derived-from-cancer, she's a snarky blank slate for tween readers to project themselves on. Gus is goofy and charming, but he also thinks he's sooo cute. The constant "Hazel Gracing" gets a bit cloying.
The movie is essentially a good adaptation of the book. Shailene Woodley is strong, detached, snarky...yet a bit blank. Ansel Elgort is goofy, charming, cute...yet a bit cloying. What really bumps me though is that I don't buy their chemistry. Now this opinion may be colored by their sibling relationship in "Divergent" (Holy Incestuous Casting, Batman!), but while they smile and stare with loving eyes, I can't help but feel that they're in different movies, loving different people in different frames.
Some plot points are faithful to the source material...yet still strange. The kiss ovation at the Anne Frank House is strange. Hazel calling Peter van Houten "douchepants" is strange. None of the eulogies really move me, like they don't in the book. However, I am most disappointed because my one favorite scene does not get its due: when Gus gets stranded in a parking lot and pukes all over himself while Hazel tries to secure his feeding tube to no avail. That's the one scene in the book that really shows the abject horror and humiliation of cancer, but it's totally PGed in the movie.
Holy hell. Hilarious and three-quarters. This sequel pokes fun at… MoreHoly hell. Hilarious and three-quarters. This sequel pokes fun at sequels, meet-cutes, homoeroticism, codependent relationships - all at a bracing mile a minute so the formula doesn't seem so formulaic. I found myself referencing quips, events, and characters even weeks later. Jillian Bell is a caustic, deadpan bitch, and Dave Franco is a quivery little prison bitch, both in the best ways possible.
Includes all the ingredients of an indie movie: an aimless nogoodnik,… MoreIncludes all the ingredients of an indie movie: an aimless nogoodnik, an estranged family who tests his adult responsibilities, a strange part-time job that requires a quirky/cute costume, a redemption moment that establishes his self-worth and strengthens his bond with aforemetioned estranged family.
It's all very nice, and I like the quirky filmmaking aspects as well, like zooming in on weird physical phenomena, like the ghosty rotations a plastic spoon makes after you let go from stirring it.
I would have liked a bit more life or explanation in Lisa Kudrow's character. Yes, she's a depressive, but there isn't much for the character or actor to do, and the reasons for her affair are just a bit too indie-understated...indiestated? I also wonder why Salman leaves before reconciling with his brother, which seems to have been a source of tension throughout the whole movie.
Having religiously read the book series but not having seen the… MoreHaving religiously read the book series but not having seen the original television show, I thought this VHS goodie was the funnest thing EVAR: with the bass-slapping, clap-happy music; the cutesy, chaste romance; the delicious mean girl villain played by throwing-shade-like-it's-her-job Marla Sokoloff; and the all-star cast of 90s dream queens who were playing thirteen but were actually in their mid-teens but looked like they were in their late teens :~P
Upon watching half a hot mess episode of the television show (which just went off Netflix), with its age-accurate, plain-faced kid-vid actresses, I had to pop in my new DVD to revel in the shine and glory of its Hollywood treatment. The exposition and dialogue are indeed hokey at times, but the main summer camp plot and the subplots of Kristy's ne'er-do-well dad coming back and Stacey's flirtation with older Luca are really quite inspired and deftly intertwined, in a narrative sense. The adult actors are also very good without pulling focus.
My teen girl crushes of Rachael Leigh Cook, Larisa Oleynik, and Bre Blair are still sweet, effervescent, and glamorous, respectively. I also found bonehead Alan Gray, played by now-off-the-radar Aaron Michael Metchik, inexplicably attractive. Schuyler Fisk, whom I grew to love in "i'm reed fish," anchors the movie with her tough yet vulnerable tomboy-with-an-impressive-if-underdeveloped-streak-of-second-wave-feminism.
Angelina Jolie is magnificent when she's maleficent - with that blithe… MoreAngelina Jolie is magnificent when she's maleficent - with that blithe drawl, those snaky horns, and them diamond-sharp cheekbones. Her portrayal of young Maleficent as a moorland fairy is a bit uneven though. Her voice is all shouty and her posture is all action hero-y, with no real indicator of the ethereal or powerful being lurking within if only a dastardly man would ravage her and uncover it (a cliched narrative device in itself).
This origin retelling is fair enough with some surprisingly funny bits, like the antics of the bumbling and long-suffering fairy godmothers, and the far-from-maternal Maleficent's encounter with five-year-old Aurora who insists on being picked up. Vivienne Jolie-Pitt is rather darling in that scene, and Angelina is uncharacteristically comically deadpan. Elle Fanning's face still bothers me, but she's a good cryer.
If this reimagined depiction of true love had come out before "Frozen," I think we all would have found it more compelling. The motherly love shown here is still rather beautiful and heartrending, but I could actually predict it. I expected a happier treatment of romantic love too, but that hardly gets any due with the pretty but ineffectual Prince Phillip and the arrogant and vengeful King Stefan who can't do the logical thing of ending this feud against his first love. Why didn't anybody just say, "Look: Aurora's awake. No harm, no foul"?