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Sidewalks of New York (2001)
Movies about relationships are nothing new, but this is one of few I've seen that gives equal time to both the male and female perspectives. I wonder how much of it was scripted and how much of it was ad-libbed, because there was a very natural feel to the way the characters expressed themselves. They seemed like real people. Heather Graham should do more films like this--talky, ad-libbed, grown-up relationship movies, which is what she excels at (Two Girls And A Guy). She doesn't need to play dumb blondes and prostitutes all the time. Brittany Murphy plays another quirky character, but like always, she shows that she can play quirky in a variety of ways (Clueless, Don't Say A Word, Girl Interrupted). The unfolding romance with the at-first unlikable David Krumholtz is surprisingly touching. However, I think less time should have been spent on Stanley Tucci's love triangle and more on the Heather Graham-Edward Burns relationship, and more Rosario Dawson. I wish everybody would stop complaining about how they can't find a decent guy or girl out there, when they really need to examine themselves first to see if they are even "decent" and ready for a real relationship.
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
a faithful adaptation of the novel
This movie could have been a disaster, if Sofia Coppola had not been so careful to faithfully adapt the script from the beautiful novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. I'm glad that it was directed by a woman rather than a man, because I can just imagine how the focus could have been tawdry and sexual. The story is told from the neighborhood boys' point of view, which adds to the distance and mystery surrounding the Lisbon sisters. Coppola did subtly show how the house was beginning to fall apart, an analogy to the girls' deterioration, but in the book it was more extreme--more trash on the stairs, the rotting newspapers on the front step, a foul stench. Also in the book, right from the start the parents were shown as more strict--in the film their sudden strictness after the dance comes as a surprise. Overall, a well-made and surprisingly humorous film.
likeable characters, but it's no Clueless
I thought this film, coming from Amy Heckerling (Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) was going to be another cute, charming comedy. Loser had a more sad, serious tone--perhaps because it's set in college rather than high school? I really liked the characters played by Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari, and they had great chemistry together. But if I had to tell you what this movie was about, I'd be at a loss. Well there's these two losers who get treated badly by everyone, until finally they realize what's going on. That's about it. I would only recommend this movie to other misfits. Extra points for Mena's terrific wardrobe.
Too depressing for some
The reason I gave P.T. Anderson's Magnolia a moderately low rating (6) was because it depressed the me. My friend, who saw the movie with me, said, "You get out of it whatever you bring into it." He makes a good point there, so be warned that this is not uplifting material.
Artistically, Magnolia was quite imaginative and well-done, especially the bizarre scene with all the frogs (I'm still not exactly sure what that was supposed to symbolize). Thankfully it was not as disturbing as Anderson's last feature, the highly acclaimed Boogie Nights. Many of the same cast members return (Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy) but their roles and situations are quite different, so it's not like watching the same film all over again. Several loosely related story lines are interwoven throughout, but it is edited well so scene changes are not choppy or abrupt. Aimee Mann's beautiful songs also help hold the film together (I especially like "Save Me"). For the most part I just wanted to throttle some of the characters for being such horrible people.
I can't exactly recommend this movie, but I also can't say it's not worth seeing.