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Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)
Finally, a smart feel-good movie. (even if you're not a fan of Steve Carell)
I originally didn't want to see this movie because all I knew about it was that Steve Carell was starring. But my friends (two guys, mind you) insisted that it was the only worthy-looking film in theaters. Probably because they think Steve Carell is hilarious, and not because they're die-hard "rom-com" fans. When they told me Emma Stone (the coolest person ever) was in it, I agreed to go.
This movie starts out a bit depressing, while staying in-tact with the humor that's found in our every day tragedies; divorce, unrequited love, etc. The story starts from hitting rock-bottom and going forward with life. Things are getting better and worse at the same time for Cal (Steve Carell) when he deals with his high-school-sweetheart-wife (Julianne Moore)'s infidelity and her decision to divorce him. At the bar where he goes to look pathetic every night, he befriends an over-confident, over-stylish pick-up artist (Ryan Gosling) who oddly feels responsible to give Cal a make-over. The objective is to make his wife jealous by building his confidence and "game" with other women.
Ryan Gosling gives a great performance, even though he's semi-ripping off Robert DeNiro's trademark persona. And Emma Stone is as cool as ever, winning his heart by being curiously honest and poking fun at what she sees. She effortlessly makes the inner pain of Gosling a little lighter.
This movie is filled with fun scenarios. Did I mention that their 17-year-old babysitter is in love with Cal? And that their over-romantic younger son is in love with the babysitter? I know this movie sounds cliché, but it's the good kind of cliché. The kind that has built on romcoms before it, and made the genre better and more appealing to both sexes. After all, it wasn't me who pushed us to see it.
Fright Night (2011)
If you thought the previews looked cool, like I did...
then be prepared to think it's not cool anymore. Everything happens within the first 10 minutes; McLovin' gets killed and we're shown that Colin Farrell is in fact a vampire. After this, my friend and I literally turned to each other and said, "What?". Obviously I knew he was a vampire from the previews, but why did they give it up so fast? The story isn't centered on him, it's centered on the kid, Charley, trying to beat him. So shouldn't we have some sort of suspense or surprise in that area? Like finding out he's a vampire when Charley does? Also, the dialogue is so awkward. I heard pity laughs in the theater. The way Charley's "cool" friends talked was so forced and out-of-date. It's over-the-top cliché teen speak that's never actually been used by teens. And his conversations with McLovin' were dull and awkward and didn't have any sort of real-ness or even movie-ness in them. It was stale banter.
In terms of story, it would have been 50% better had they stuck to the conventions. It was just so incoherent and un-relatable (we ARE supposed to be able to relate to it even though it's about vampires) They (the writers) should have kept McLovin' alive, and had him convince Charley that Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. And Jerry should have at least tried to hide it, instead of gallivanting around killing people the second he moved into the neighborhood. It would have been more fun to see their attempts to uncover Jerry and beat him at his own game. Rather than having no room for the audiences' imagination and guesswork. It wasn't an adventure at all. McLovin's character was one of the most entertaining in the movie. It would have been more fun to see him and Charley's dynamic (although a cliché one; enthusiastic believer vs in-denial non-believer) grow. Because that was the only chance the story had for there to be an interesting dynamic. Charley vs Jerry was very clear-cut and out in the open, except for the maybe 10 minutes of screen time where he has to hide it from his mother and girlfriend. Overall, it wasn't as cool as it seemed in the previews. The tone nor mood really matched up. Plus there's a ridiculous "vampire slayer" (not in the 'so corny that it's funny' way, more in the 'so dumb that it's dumb way') who decides at last minute to help Charley. I think that part was written for Russell Brand or something. It was awful.
The movie had potential though. Being set in a desert suburb of Las Vegas made it kind of cozy and undertoned the isolation of the neighborhood. However, the story just fell apart and there were awkwardly placed scenes with his mother at the end of the movie that didn't "wrap things up" the way it was meant to, and instead made us think something was about to happen to his mother. It didn't play on expectations like it could have. In fact, its lack thereof lead it to falsely create expectations that were never met.
Love in the Time of Cholera (2007)
The film adaptation of the famed piece of Spanish literature, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, is not an entirely accurate portrayal of this conflicting love story. In the civil war-ridden nation of Columbia, circa 1880, with the devastating cholera epidemic continuing to ravage the country, a conflicting love story is inspired. Fermina Daza, a prudent young girl with a tyrannical father, inadvertently attracts the eye of Florentino Ariza, a telegraph boy with a romantic nature. He falls hopelessly in love and pursues her with intimate letters. As she responds, a passionate bond grows and they share this love together. However her feelings are more reserved than her lover's. In the book, García Márquez explains "In reality they were distracted letters, intended to keep the coals alive without putting her hand in the fire, while Florentino Ariza burned himself alive in every line." (pg. 69) Florentino's intense devotion to her could be a consequence of spending most of his time overwhelming himself with love themed literary works. Fermina is yet a less vulnerable character. However, Fermina's father discovers her secret affair and has other plans for her. He threatens Florentino, then forces an involuntary move upon Fermina to separate the star-crossed lovers. Fermina travels with her father for about three years, while concealing her contact with Florentino over telegrams. They remain sure of their arrangements to marry, until comes back from traveling. The moment she sees him upon her return, she realizes that their love was an illusive product of immaturity. Florentino is left heartbroken and vows that he will love her until he dies. She marries a distinguished doctor, with the support of her father. Florentino maintains 622 affairs, using sex to mend his heartbreak while waiting for Fermina's husband, Dr. Urbino, to die of old age. Until, at the age of about 70, Dr. Urbino finally dies and Florentino makes his move. Offended, Fermina disgraces him and is left to grieve for her dead husband. After time, Fermina and Florentino's love is rekindled carefully. They spend valuable time together on a cruise, and Florentino's purpose for life is obtained. In the movie, Florentino is shown as a love-stricken man with a pathetic and creepy obsession. His character is almost irritating to watch. García Márquez hints at these elements in the book, but they are not so dominant as in the film. Also, the connection between Fermina and Florentino is not described in the movie to the extent that it is narrated in the book. Although she does return her love for him in the movie, their deeper connection and agreement still does not appear on screen. In the novel, they exchange love letters for about five years (since she was thirteen years old) and had thoroughly planned their engagement. The film seems to ignore their character development in that aspect and continue to demonstrate them as two distant lovers lacking union. When she first realizes Florentino's affection towards her, she does not predict him to be admirable or serious. Her experimenting with his attachment in the beginning evolves into a real one on her part. Márquez writes, "These unexpected, almost childish antics caused an unfamiliar curiosity in Fermina Daza, but for several months it did not occur to her that it could go any further. She never knew when the diversion became a preoccupation and her blood frothed with the need to see him
" (pg. 58) . The movie illustrates half the events and insight needed to get the main ideas across. I strongly suggest that if you are interested in this movie that you read the book before hand. It will not be as typical and the situations will not seem as unrelated as they do in the film. The only way to enjoy this movie is to understand the story further than what you are shown. PS> The movie also does not explore Fermina and Dr. Urbino's marriage as though it should have been (read the book). He is also a very prized citizen in the book, having founded numerous organizations and leading many foundations. He is portrayed differently in the movie.