A wife falls in love with her neighbor.
We have seen this story dozens… MoreA wife falls in love with her neighbor.
We have seen this story dozens of times: the plot is Bridges of Madison County, Unfaithful: and countless others. But Michelle Williams's performance is beyond compare, and Seth Rogen gives a remarkable, emotionally demanding performance. The third act scene that consists of several flash cuts is so heartbreaking because Rogen plays it straight and honestly. Even Sarah Silverman's third act scene is remarkable.
What sets Take this Waltz apart from its peers is the level of profundity its conclusion reaches. Like Annie Hall, Take the Waltz shows that we are foundationally flawed, that our natural desires lead to our emotional ruin, that our lives can be condemned to tepidity despite our best efforts. Essentially, it's a pessimistic film, but it doesn't feel as damning as it is.
Overall, Take this Waltz is an old story, but that's its one flaw; aside from the well-traveled ground, this is one of the finest films I've seen in a long time.
A lower class woman falls for an upper class man.
This is how… MoreA lower class woman falls for an upper class man.
This is how class-conscious love stories should be done. Class becomes palpable and real, and the sacrifices that each lover must undertake in order to make the match work ring true and compelling. Rather than falling into the trap of being generalized, Jay must at times give up aspects of his livelihood for Trishna, who later becomes so engrossed in the relationship that what she gives up becomes stomach-curdling and ultimately tragic.
Michael Winterbottom fashions a film out of such short scenes, and he does so expertly, able to compact huge spaces of time and dramatic jumps of character.
However, I did not like the end, which seemed to wrap things up too neatly.
Overall, this is very strong film, and it's fitting because British and Indian filmmakers are more attuned to the ravages of class difference than we are.
A thirty-year-old brat convinces a hapless woman to marry him.
Todd… MoreA thirty-year-old brat convinces a hapless woman to marry him.
Todd Solondz specializes in characters stuck on the edges of society, and there is no Solondz character more on the edge than Abe. His whiny narcissism is foundationally unattractive, and while I find myself agreeing with his Holden-Caulfield-esque denunciations of society and cruelty, I wish Abe weren't the one voicing these objections. Jordan Gelber plays the part without any care for what the audience thinks of him, and for this he should be lauded; it's Solondz, on the other hand, who fails to give us some small redeemable quality that makes us sympathize with his protagonist until the end. My comments about Gelber extend to Selma Blair, who also shines in a difficult acting challenge.
What is Solondz saying with this film? I think Solondz is presenting an anti-inspirational story, an antidote to Nicholas Sparks. He gives us the most annoying hero anyone could ask for, makes us think we should root for him, and then finishes the story honestly. Solondz is dark, and this film may be his darkest yet. The problem is that what works as a conceptual response to a genre of film doesn't necessarily work as a compelling story in itself.
Overall, I like the idea behind this film, but I couldn't stay with the execution for very long.
Young John Lennon is torn between his mercurial biological mother and… MoreYoung John Lennon is torn between his mercurial biological mother and his stuffy aunt.
The only thing I learned from this film is that John Lennon was once a real prick. The movie goes to great lengths to convince us that his upbringing produced his frustration, but Lennon's reactions to his troubled circumstances seem over-the-top, and we're not given many reasons to find him interesting. The plot languishes in exposition, and the final reveals about Julia's history don't surprise any discerning audience.
Kristin Scott Thomas can do anything, and she gives a fantastic performance, but Aaron Johnson plays youthful angst with all the brattiness of a misbehaving kid at Wal Mart.
I suppose that a more traditional biopic, with an older Lennon reminiscing on the travails of his life, might have been more compelling, and perhaps Beatles fans fill in this "front-story," but I judge a film based more on what is on the screen rather than context.
Overall, there is nothing new about this story for most people, but perhaps a cadre of Beatles fans will find Lennon's history interesting.
A nerdy grocery store detective begins "sexual training" to earn the… MoreA nerdy grocery store detective begins "sexual training" to earn the affections of a musician.
Cristin Milioti, aka the girl with the yellow umbrella, shines in the lead role, but the film is troubled by the fact that very few of the characters are at all likable. Normally, unlikeable characters aren't a problem for me, but when the object of the protagonist's affections is an utter dick, we judge the protagonist; we all put on our "gay best friend" hats and say, "Girl, you're so much better than this."
Some of the situations Sammy finds herself in are chuckle-worthy (the mother teaching Sammy how to use a vibrator and the resulting threesome), but that's about the extent of the film's humor.
Overall, Ted's future wife is quirky and adorable, but her film choice needs improvement.
A man who believes that the universe gives signs about his life joins… MoreA man who believes that the universe gives signs about his life joins with his brother on a destiny-ridden adventure.
If you were to say that this film is too pat, too convenient, and overall eye-roll inducing, I would understand, but what do you expect from a film whose thesis is that the universe is guided by a cosmic plan?
The plot unfolds deftly with the requisite number of "must-happens," and Jason Segel gives a very good performance as the hapless Jeff. Ed Helms plays Pat as a man who is more fucked up than his brother but hides it better, and this is Helms's strength.
Overall, yes, I understand that it's hokey, but I found myself inspired and smiling by the end of this film, and it's one of the Duplasses finest efforts.
Set against the background of political turmoil, a radical and a… MoreSet against the background of political turmoil, a radical and a milquetoast writer fall in love.
A saccharine love story, when this film succeeds it's because Robert Redford was just absolutely dreamy in his prime. He was also a great actor, working with a subtle strength and playing off his natural magnetism. However, most of the time, there is little that any actor can do to save this meandering script. There is a certain truth to relationships that flounder because there is too much work involved, but this theme is more developed in real life than in cinema, and this film doesn't do much original.
I've never been a fan of Barbra Streisand as a cultural icon or as an actress, and while I can't say that there was anything horrible about her acting, there wasn't anything extraordinary either.
Overall, this film is another reason to love Redford, but the story is weak.
A jazz pianist and a flamenco dancer fall in love but split during… MoreA jazz pianist and a flamenco dancer fall in love but split during political turmoil.
This foreign animated film is a nice albeit predictable love story. The characters make all the mistakes of youth, but the story is told with a certain deftness that made me forgive the film its inadequacies. The animation is good, naturalistic at times, frenetic during the jazzy scenes, attempting to take on the "look of the music," and oddly sexy where appropriate.
Overall, I enjoyed this film even if I didn't think it had anything new to offer.
Morgan Spurlock, Will Arnett, and Jason Bateman explore men's grooming… MoreMorgan Spurlock, Will Arnett, and Jason Bateman explore men's grooming and its relationship to masculinity.
What Mansome could be is an examination of masculinity in modern day pop culture, post-feminist movement. In fact, it could be the documentary version of all the strengths of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. But instead its reliance on extreme reactions to male hair and its profile of a modern-day fop do little to deliver any salient cultural criticism. What emerges are the outliers of our society -- a man with a massive beard and a man who spends more time preening than most birds -- and I finished the film learning nothing new about the macrocosm and learning only dismissible factoids about the microcosm.
Overall, Mansome, considering its wealth of talent, doesn't live up to its potential.
A cat burglar helps a policewoman find the mob boss who kidnapped her… MoreA cat burglar helps a policewoman find the mob boss who kidnapped her daughter.
Eminently forgettable, A Cat in Paris doesn't offer much. The plot is fairly basic, and the revenge fantasy is overbearing and lacking in any subtlety. The animation is neither realistic nor stylized.
Overall, this is a short film, but I can't say a lot about it because it doesn't say a lot for itself.