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"500 Days of Summer" is a delightfully engaging and poignant tale of love
19 August 2009
"This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he'd never truly be happy until the day he met the one. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total mis-reading of the movie 'The Graduate'. The girl, Summer Finn of Shinnecock, Michigan, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parent's marriage she'd only love two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing. Tom meets Summer on January 8th. He knows almost immediately she is who he has been searching for. This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story."

500 Days of Summer is an intriguingly original take on falling in love. Every emotion involved with a relationship seems to be relayed; from the strange and quirky aspects of new love to the tragedy of heartbreak. Marc Webb deftly incorporates his ingenuity and comedy into the film. The writers quite skilfully enrich the film with one of the most immensely beautiful and original screenplays to come along in a while.

Tom, a greeting-card writer with artistic dreams beyond his mundane job, meets Summer and quickly falls for her. Eventually, he manages to charm her into a "casual relationship". So begins the 500 days that chronicle the happiness, heartbreak, and every other aspect involved with the often changing tides of romance.

500 Days of Summer portrays a relationship that is more realistic and less clichéd than most others in it's woefully unoriginal and formulaic genre. In doing so, the film never feels anything less than completely innovative and incredibly fun. The film's story is told in a refreshingly non-linear fashion that strives for and often reaches perfection with each and every scene.

The acting is wonderful, especially from the two leads. Since starring in Mysterious Skin (a disturbingly compelling film), Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been one of my favorite actors and proves yet again why he is one of the most talented actors of his generation. His performance was truly fantastic. Zooey Deschanel is absolutely wonderful in her portrayal of Summer and her quirky personalities. Their chemistry is wondrously compelling to watch and their moments together seem wholly convincing and genuine. The supporting cast is terrific throughout and very fun to watch.

The music was marvelous and really added to the film. Everyone involved does an amazing job to connect the several elements of love into a satisfying and moving conclusion. The film often shuffles between whimsy and realistic, but, rather than getting lost because of it, the story only seems to be enhanced due to the chaotically transitional moods.

500 Days of Summer is a hilarious, deftly thoughtful film about love. The performances are astonishing and the writing is sublime. It is a thoroughly clever and impressive film that shouldn't be missed.
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Moon (2009)
"Moon" is a brilliantly psychological film driven by Sam Rockwell's utterly incredible performance
14 August 2009
"I want to go home"

Duncan Jones' Moon is a magnificently beautiful character study and a dazzlingly complex and ambitious sci-fi film. Aside from some rather subtle similarities to other genre classics, the film rarely feels unoriginal, mostly due to the masterful storytelling and superb direction. The pace is never compromised by trite or useless scenes, but flows rather seamlessly from one harrowing moment to the next.

Sam Bell is an astronaut miner stationed on the moon. He's nearing the end of his contract with Lunar Industries. A diligent employee for three arduous years, he has been made to remain separate from his family and all interaction with others. His home has been Selene, a moon base where he has spent his time. The only one he talks to is a computer named GERTY. Spent in complete isolation, he ponders his eventual return to earth and his family. Two weeks prior to his return, his communication with earth fails. After an accident occurs, Sam discovers something that forces him to doubt his own sanity and edge closer and closer to the breaking point.

Duncan Jones and co-writer Nathan Parker are able to constantly keep things fresh and exciting throughout. Although slow at times, the deftly hypnotic pace allows the viewer to emotionally connect to such a degree that the film never becomes boring because of it.

Sam Rockwell has been one of my favorite actors for a number of years and has been brilliant in quite a few films, and yet he manages to completely outdo himself here. His portrayal of his character is hauntingly emotional and layered to the point where every single scene he's in is perfectly compelling. His performance is absolutely riveting and is clearly one of the best performances in a film in recent memory.

The cinematography is consistently breathtaking and wonderfully assists the direction. The score by Clint Mansell is another beautiful piece of this genuine work of art.

Duncan Jones is an amazing director who has debuted with an incredibly thought-provoking, hauntingly complex film that deserves any number of awards it hopefully receives. It is truly an outstanding achievement that should be recognized for years to come as a genre-defining masterpiece.
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Atonement (2007)
"Atonement" is a beautifully poetic and riveting masterpiece
11 August 2009
"Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame."

Joe Wright's Atonement is a beautiful and imaginative film that deftly succeeds at being a perfect adaptation of Ian McEwan's psychologically involving book of the same name. Using every ounce of engaging story available, Wright tackles the film's themes with a confidence considerably rare for such a relatively new director.

Towards the beginning of the film, Briony Tallis, an imaginative, yet foolish 13-year-old girl, bares witness to Robbie Turner making love with her older sister and then misinterprets a horrible crime she thinks she understands. Due to her naivety, she falsely accuses Robbie of the crime because of his earlier actions. Through her misguided convictions of the truth, she separates Robbie from Cecelia. The tale continues as Cecelia becomes a nurse and waits for Robbie to return from the war.

Christopher Hampton, the screenwriter, quite skillfully adapts the novel into a poignant screenplay. His ability to transform the pages into moving art and transitioning perspectives without sacrificing the pace or emotion of the source material is stunning.

Joe Wright excels even further after directing his first film, the spirited, yet simpler "Pride and Prejudice". His direction in Atonement is absolutely phenomenal, from the insanely brilliant single-take tracking shot through Dunkirk (perhaps one of the most beautiful and impeccably detailed scenes in film history) to the incredibly erotic and smart sex scene. His ability to deftly and brilliantly portray the most thorough and complex of emotions without the slightest of words being spoken is incredible.

Assisting the direction suitably is the seamless cinematography. The decoration and meticulous attention to detail throughout the entirety of the film wonderfully captures the feel and look of each location. The visuals constantly heighten the mood and perception of the story to the point where it feels as though the characters and circumstances of the tale were anything but endearingly human and complex creations of a clever mind.

The acting complements the visual prowess of the film perfectly. Saoirse Ronan and James McAvoy are particular standouts in an already top-notch cast. McAvoy instills in his character all the underlying emotions and exhaustion flawlessly. Ronan's talent shines through as she plays a character so complex and naive, the frustration and anger she makes the viewer feel towards her character defines extraordinary acting.

On top of everything else, the score is hauntingly breathtaking, from the melodic strikes of the typewriter keys to the melancholic piano and the mournful violin. The music enriches the scenes with an infectious beauty and sadness.

Joe Wright is a master storyteller and Atonement is an unforgettably brilliant, incredibly emotional film that deserves any sort of accolades it receives. It is one of only a very few films I have ever seen that I am proud to say is thoroughly without fault throughout its entirety.
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"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a remarkably beautiful, yet equally bizarre exploration of love
10 August 2009
"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd." - Alexander Pope

Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a brilliantly heartfelt and complicated tale that delves, rather flawlessly, into the labyrinth of human emotions and the pain often involved in trying to make a relationship work. Charlie Kaufman, the main writer behind Eternal Sunshine, often allows his ingenuity and talent to infuse the film with perfectly subtle touches of emotion and humanity. His understanding of relationships and the variety of complexities involved is often wondrous to behold.

One day, Joel Barrish (Jim Carrey), after falling in love with Clementine (Kate Winslet), finds out that she, due to her recent unhappiness with the relationship, had Joel erased from her memory through a procedure carried out by the Lacuna company. Eventually, Joel, himself, wants the same operation, in order that he can forget Clementine as well. Through this procedure, the film delves into Joel's thoughts and past, chaotically revealing his memories as he eventually attempts to outrun the erasing of them, after realizing how much the lovely moments with Clementine rather largely outweighed the upsetting ones.

The cast, from Kirsten Dunst to Jim Carrey, is superb in the portrayal of their characters. In one of his more dynamic roles, Jim Carrey presents Joel Barrish as a complex and three-dimensional character, and seems wholly convincing and sympathetic throughout. Clementine is played absolutely brilliantly by Kate Winslet. Her on-screen chemistry with Carrey is thoroughly entrancing and poignant. The entirety of the supporting cast deliver a subliminally nuanced and engrossing blend of emotions as well.

The apparent surrealism deftly blends with the realism in a way that allows the viewer a more complete view of the tale. This subtle relationship between the director, the writer, and the screen is enhanced and brought to life with the assistance of the exceptional cinematography and the seamless transitions and edits.

The feelings and expressions throughout the film cast a picture so hauntingly realistic, it's difficult not to see some aspect of a past relationship unfolding on-screen. The engaging and creative ways Gondry and Kaufman explore Joel's memories and dreams is humorous, chaotic, touching, and heartbreaking all at once.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind is a consistently moving and thought-provoking film that remains my favorite film of all time. Simply perfect.
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