Saturday, June 19, 2010

When Grown-up Finally Grow Up

Shopgirl 2005
Directed by Anand Tucker

Shopgirl is a story about a young women named Mirabelle, played by Clare Danes, who finds herself in a love triangle with Ray Porter, a wealthy older man (Steve Martin) and Jeremy, a struggling young musician (Jason Schwartzman). For the most part the film is about how life experiences catapult your own personal transformations.

The film takes place in Los Angeles a perfect juxtaposition to the story and to the character of Mirabelle. They couldn’t have gotten a better actress to play her. I have been a fan of Clare Danes ever since the TV show My So Called Life (1994). She is one of those actresses that plays the same character but it does't matter because you basically love her. She has a simple quiet type of beauty that is rare for actresses her age. As I am hanging on to the last year of my 20’s I can completely relate to Marriblle. Like most of us, she is just trying to find her way through the world. There is nothing really extraordinary amazing about her. She is ordinary and almost boring, which makes her so relatable.

Although I could relate more to Marribelle, my favorite character is Jeremy. We remember Jason Schwartzman from Rushmore (1998) and most recently in Funny People. His comedic abilities bring the character of Jeremy to life in this otherwise drama based film. Jeremy is the poster boy of the 20 something male. He is every good and bad date you will ever have. He is the guy whose number you delete and then try to find when your drunk and lonely. He is the guy with the most potential the the least amount of motivation. Jeremy is the single women's boyfriend.

Overall, the film and characters held the story together enough that the narration wasn't necessary. It wasn't even from a personal perspective which seems a little off putting especially since it was about someones personal journey. The film is based on a novella written by Steve Martin, so I think the print to screen transition was perhaps a little too literal. Thankfully even with the narration, it's still one of my favorite films. I have come to realize that most of my favorite films are not coming of age movies, but coming in to yourself stories, and this one is no exception.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Neo Noir goes to High School

Brick (2005)
Directed by Rian Johnson

Brick was about Brandon, a flawed and morally questionable hero played by Joseph Gorden Levitt. He investigates the disappearance of his girlfriend by digging deep into the underworld of high school crime. The story followed all the classic Film Noir characters with witty and cheeky dialog. The unlikely combination of a modern day suburban high school setting and the Film Noir storyline is what made this film so exciting. The contrast between the two was so apparent it was comedic. One of my favorite scenes in the film is the conversation between the high school crime lord, “The Pin” and Brandon. They sit at the kitchen table and The Pin’s mother asking Brandon if he wants Country Style Apple Juice. Sure, you could say that its completely unrealistic, but you can’t tell me having the crime lord’s lair in his mom’s basement isn’t funny.

I haven't had much interest in watching classic 1940’s Film Noir. However, with such amazing Neo Noir films such as Memento 2000, LA Confidential 1997, Basic Instant 1992, and Mulholland Drive 1996, and now Brick, I might just have to give the classics a shot.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Amuse Bouche - Rent it!

Miracle of St. Anna (2008)
Directed by Spike Lee

Being one of the most well known black directors, I can't help but support Spike Lee's films, but I haven't always enjoyed them. He has a tendency of being a little too preachy. Over the years he has grown from a young director into a house hold name. I remember seeing this particular film in the movie theaters and really enjoying it. The culture mixes of German Nazi's and African American soldiers and tying in a modern day murder was brilliant! Bravo Spike! Too bad it wasn't more successful in the box office.

The White Ribbon (2009)
Directed by Michael Haneke

Talk about a snooze fest!!! I really want to be one of those people who love abstract deep films, but I accept that some things might just go over my head. I sat through the whole film waiting for something interesting to happen and then it ended. Its also subtitles so it requires reading, but I'm sorry, if you want me to read a movie the plot needs to be interesting too. Although to its credit, after sitting for about an hour, I realized the the cinematography was stunning! Leave it to a photographer to notice that.

Greenberg (2010)
Directed by Noah Baumbach

I am happy to see Ben Stiller try to branch out from slap stick comedy. I also enjoyed the cameo appearance from Merrit Wever who plays the lovable Zoey Barkow from Nurse Jackie.
Baumbach is known for making dark comedies about middle age crisis. If you liked The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) or The Squid and the Whale (2005) then you will enjoy this one too.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Directed by Tim Burton

I was so excited to see Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland. It seemed like such a good combination, but the quirky amazing brilliants wasn't there. No wonder he left Disney in the beginnings of his career. He should have never went back! So it is confirmed! Tim Burton + Disney = a movie that sucks

Clash of the Titans (2010)
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Its funny how 20 years later with advanced technology and special effects and the original is till better.

The Hurt Locker (2008)
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
I never get to see films before they won best picture. Perhaps I should have seen this before all of the hype because the whole time I was looking for the star quality that everyone seemed to have found. Don't get me wrong, this story was something that I never seen before, but I'm also not a huge fan or war movies either.

Shutter Island (2010)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Out of respect for an amazing director like Martin Scorsese, you can't help but go see Shutter Island. Its far from his best work, but it does sill have all the qualities and sensibilities of his films. The ending turns you for a loop and not necessarily a good one.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

“Men who are too good looking are never good in bed because they never had to be.” - Carrie Bradshaw

Sex in the City 2 (2010)
Directed by Michael Patrick King

Like most women, I’m a huge fan of the show. Sex in the City is like Star Wars for women. We get all dressed up and take our best girlfriends and parade down to the cinema. I did just this in homage to one of the best shows in TV history. I went with another fan of the show and I must say we were where both delighted to see the girls again on the big screen. It’s like visiting old friends you haven’t heard from in years. We got there an hour early and commented on women’s outfits and shoes as they walked by. I even noticed the demographic of the crowd; for every 15 women standing in line there were a group of gay guys. I found myself talking with strangers as we all bonded over the love of the show.

“Solidarity!” I told my friend.

“Solidarity from what?” She asked.

“From men?” I said, not exactly sure how to put my feeling into words at the time. LOL

Like most people in the theater we had very low expectations for the actual quality of the film but for die-hard fans it didn't matter. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t completely suck! Don’t get me wrong, there were many over the top, over acted, super cheesy moments. It was like a really long episode, unlike the first movie when they tried to squeeze a full season in one movie. I also appreciated the fact that they keep the mood light and funny allowing the characters to be who we remembered them to be. Samantha was inappropriate, Charlotte was traditional and a little judgy, Miranda was sarcastic and funny and Carrie well… was still Carrie. The girls are well into the next stage of their lives, married, kids, and menopause and thankfully there is still something funny about that. Once I overlooked the unrealistic union of the gay couple, the Aub Dabi location, and the cheesy karaoke number I found myself still able to relate to these women all over again. Much like the first film, this one didn't stand up on its own and it’s definitely a watered down version of the show but the basic essence carried through.

In a society that creates unhealthy female competition that in turn creates insecure and immature women; Sex in the City represents the very best of female relationships. The real success of the show wasn’t the clothing or the sex, but the unbreakable bond between the four women. More women get married later and having families later in life so the bond between friends ends up becoming one of the most important relationships you will have. How is that for solidarity?