Tag Archives: Romance

Review: Beauty and the Beast

batb poster
via Pop Sugar

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

PG / 129 mins.

Family / Fantasy / Musical

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans

Director: Bill Condon

When the adaptation of the classic Disney animated musical Beauty and the Beast was first announced I was instantly sold.  Not only was Beauty and the Beast released during Disney’s golden era of musicals, but the remake was set to star Emma Watson as Belle, the musical’s lead lady.  When you add in the fact that it was being directed by Bill Condon (of Dreamgirls and Chicago fame), it did not take much more for the remake to become a must-watch for me.  Now that the movie, a tale as old as time, has finally arrived, I can report that the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast has met my expectations, delivering an experience more magical than the original.

batb 1
via Digital Spy

If you have watched the original, then the remake should have you feeling right at home.  Aside from a few minor changes, the remake walks in lock step with the source material.  The Beast, played by Dan Stevens, is still under a curse that has trapped him in his own castle as a monstrous beast and his friends as a collection of inanimate objects.  He is still in search of someone who will love him before the last petal of his rose withers away.  Belle is still the young woman who, after going to search for her father, finds herself a prisoner in the Beast’s forgotten castle and soon begins to fall in love with the beast himself.  The rest is history.  It is still an endearing tale, only made better by the fact that Belle is not a damsel in distress this time around.  By Emma Watson’s demand, Belle is a more intelligent and capable character.  She is an independent and bookish woman, who will most likely act as an inspiration for a generation of young fans for years to come.

It is obvious that Emma Watson’s performance serves as the seat-filler, but the rest of the performances compliment her well.  Dan Stevens plays a good Beast, who shows both a beastly side as well as a charming side in his performance.  I think both him and Emma worked well together.  Then there are everybody’s favorite talking objects, Lumiere and Cogsworth, played by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan respectively.  The two acts as the comic relief throughout the entire movie and share some of the movie’s best moments.  Gaston, the narcissistic and charming antagonist played by Luke Evans, also does a wonderful job with his role.  He is even better than the original in that he starts off as a rather harmless goof and then quickly turns into a terrifying figure blinded by rage in the end.  It is still a fun character arch to watch develop onscreen.

via Gamespot

Emma Watson not only plays a good Belle, but it also turns out that she has a great voice as well.  Her performances, especially her opening number “Belle,” show off her great musical talent.  There were times where it seemed like her voice was digitally enhanced or modified, but it never felt too egregious.  The rest of the songs are just as great as the original classics.  Some songs have modified lyrics to fit the story while some songs are completely new.  While I don’t know how I feel about the modified lyrics, they never go too overboard with it.  Songs like “Beauty and the Beast” performed by Emma Thompson (who plays Mrs. Potts) and “Be Our Guest” sung by Lumiere and the rest of the castle crew feel livelier this time around and they will surely bring back some nostalgic memories.

The biggest differentiator (if it was not apparent already) is that the remake is live action.  CGI is the name of the game and it is well done in this movie, for the most part.  Lumiere and Cogsworth, as well as the rest of the castle objects, look amazing in CGI.  They are more fluid and move around with ease.  Mrs. Potts might look a bit creepy, though.  (What is even creepier is her Funko Pop figure) Then there is the Beast, who looked a little too rigid.  His movement did not feel natural which was especially evident in scenes like the ballroom dance.  CGI aside, there are some very nice looking shots throughout the movie.  It is a colorful film that is really pleasing to the eye.  There was some great cinematography that brilliantly captured the picturesque beauty of the original.

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via ComicBook.com

While it might not be a popular opinion to most, I think that the adaption easily surmounts the original Beauty and the Beast, despite some of its technical issues regarding the Beast and some pacing issues in its story.  I really enjoyed the original movie, but I do not highly regard it as some do.  In my opinion, the original provides a good backbone while the adaptation takes the story and runs with it, filling it with more energy and magic.  While it might not seem instantly apparent, there are going to be a new generation of kids that look at the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast and they are going to view it as the definitive version.  While this might seem like a bonkers idea, it is not necessarily a terrible thing.

batb score


Review: By the Sea

via IMP Awards

By the Sea (2015)

R / 122 min.

Drama / Romance

Starring: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent

Director: Angelia Jolie

A French seaside resort sounds like the perfect locale for a romantic getaway weekend.  The fresh and salty breeze kisses your face as the sound of the waves crashing upon the beach fills your ears.  It is relaxing just thinking about it.  It sounds a lot better than this damp and foggy day I am currently experiencing.  Unfortunately, By the Sea, directed and written by actress-turned-director Angelina Jolie is anything but romantic…or a good movie for that matter.

via The AV Club

The film, starring Angelina and her ex-real-life husband Brad Pitt, is a reflective piece on the subject of grief and love.  It is a deeply personal film about a couple, Vanessa and Roland (played by Jolie and Pitt), at a crossroads in the relationship who decide to go to a French seaside resort to perhaps sort things out in their marriage.  Instead, things seem to take a turn for the weird when they begin to meet some new friends around the town, two of which happen to be a newly-wed couple next door.

What brought me to this movie was the obvious draw of a voyeuristic look into the real-life relationship of Jolie and Pitt.  It was no secret that their marriage was hanging on a thread and that things were not all roses and dandelions between the two of them.  By the Sea was advertised as a personal art-house piece about a couple going through a rough patch.  It does not take a genius to connect the dots and theorize that perhaps the movie is a story about the director’s marriage.  Despite these theories, we get nothing of the sort.  Instead, we get a rather odd voyeuristic look into the sex life of the couple next door thanks to a hidden peep hole that offers Vanessa a view into their life.  Feelings of jealousy and lust begin to creep into her thoughts as she becomes addicted to the peep hole while Roland is off getting drunk at the resort’s bar.

via Rolling Stone

This fascination with the couple next door is certainly something I was not expecting, but it is just too bad the overall plot is boring.  The film never managed to grab me like I thought it initially would.  It does not help that 75% of the movie is one big moan fest full of self-loathing and blank stares.  Everyone just lies around drinking and acting all mopey-dopey.  The performances feel lifeless, especially from Jolie and Pitt.  The dynamic and chemistry between their two characters is the backbone that the movie relies upon but the two never feel invested in their characters.  For a movie so personal it was surprising how detached the two felt from it.

There is one department of the movie that deserves praise and that is its cinematography.  Angelina Jolie is a great director who looks to have a future ahead of her that does not solely include acting.  She takes a simplistic angle on the film, with some great minimalist shots and a lot of silence.  It was at least pleasant to look at, despite the boring travesty that was taking place in the resort.  There was also a nice orchestrated musical score that added to the movie as well.

via Collider

Things only get worse as the movie creeps towards its conclusion, but I never found it in myself to care.  By the Sea must have been tough to create given the circumstances of what Jolie and Pitt were going through at the time, so I have to commend them for attempting to put something like this out there in the wild.  If you came into this movie looking for an irresistible look into the two’s love life however, then you are going to be madly disappointed.  It is quite possible you might self-loath yourself just as much as the characters in the movie.


Review: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

via Cinergetica

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

R / 98 mins

Adventure / Comedy / Romance

Starring: Adam Devine, Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza

Director: Jake Szymanski

Craigslist is a wonderful thing.  It’s easy to post and sell your things without having to worry about shipping costs and all the other stuff that comes with shipping packages around the world.  Instead people come to you and buy your stuff with cold hard cash.  I’m oversimplifying it (a lot) but it really is a great thing.  As it turns out, you can also use the website to find wedding dates.  In Mike and Dave Needing Wedding Dates, the movie from writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (Neighbors), Mike and Dave…well, need wedding dates so they go to Craigslist to find their lucky ladies.  Just like their idea, the movie is stupidly funny but not that great.

via College Movie Review

Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) Stangle are a pair of party-hard brothers who always seem to screw up every family function they attend, whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or family reunion.  They always cross the line and things go south really quickly, as shown in the film’s introductory moments.  By the request of their father, the two are asked to attend their sister’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding with two wedding dates that will keep the pair in check.  After a tedious and thorough process (involving Craigslist and a gross amount of blind dates) the two stumble upon two very “respectable as f***” ladies, Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza).  The girls are a wild pair but they keep themselves under control just long enough for them to get the chance to attend the wedding in Hawaii with Mike and Dave.  Let the shenanigans begin!

As far as story goes, Mike and Dave is pretty boilerplate when it comes to crazy wedding comedies.  The movie gives us nutty family members, a stressed out bride, a rehearsal dinner gone wrong, and lots of alcohol-fueled antics.  The film doesn’t do anything to change up the formula and as a result we get a largely uninteresting story.

via Tribute

Despite the unoriginal script, there’s a lot of stupidly hilarious R-rated insanity that leads to a good bit of laughter.  Moments like a weird massage and a pre-wedding ecstasy trip gone too far make for some hilarious moments.  Writers Cohen and O’Brien are no strangers to R-rated comedic romps so anyone who’s a fan of the Neighbor movies should feel right at home here amongst the shenanigans.  There’s some downtime, sure, but there are definitely some humorous scenes that make up for it.

The most puzzling thing about this movie, however, are the two female leads, Kendrick and Plaza.  It’s almost as if they put no effort into their characters.  The girls, despite their slightly insane nature, are actually pretty boring and the two don’t do a good job of selling their characters at all.  It’s a shame because their male co-stars, Devine and Efron actually work pretty well together.  Their chemistry shows on screen and some of the movie’s funniest moments come when the two are together.  It’s just too bad this same type of chemistry can’t be said about Kendrick and Plaza, who are two very funny people.  This film could have been a lot stronger if everybody pulled their weight.

via Main Echo

Despite the movie’s absurd moments, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, as well as the uninteresting story, hold it back. I really wanted to like Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but I was expecting a lot more out of Kendrick and Plaza.  Luckily the movie’s humorous moments prevent it from being a total wash.  I had a good time with the film, but it’s not a movie that’s going to stick with me in the long run.


Review: Emily Is Away

emily is away cover

Emily Is Away (2015)

PC / Not Rated


Publisher: Kyle Seeley

Developer: Kyle Seeley

Most people this day and age at some point have probably found themselves in front of a computer with an instant messenger client open.  Before the age of texting and social media, there was a time where AOL Instant Messaging was one of the few ways to get in touch with high school friends or distant relatives savvy enough to use a computer.  Another familiar experience, one that most of us have probably been through, is the complicated high school crush relationship.  With a high school crush, you’re always teetering on the line between a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship or the friend zone, where anything you say could tip it all off-balance.

When you pair instant messaging of the early 2000s with conversations with a high school crush, you probably get a relatable experience, which is where Emily Is Away succeeds in its mission.  Emily Is Away is a small PC indie game designed by Kyle Seeley.  The game encapsulates the complicated and sometimes nerve-wracking nature of talking with a crush perfectly, using a deeply nostalgic Windows XP aesthetic as a wrapper.  It immediately transported me back to a time were punk-pop bands were the norm and Harry Potter movies were new and all the rage.

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The beginning of the game lets you pick a screen name, a name that you will use to talk and communicate with the game’s titular character Emily, who goes by “emerly35” online.  The short narrative journey takes place over five years, starting in your senior year of high school and ending with your senior year of college.  Over this time, you speak with Emily about a wide range of things ranging from music to parties, until you eventually get into some deeper topics like your relationship with her and other love interests in your life.  What you say directly affects your relationship with Emily in more ways than one.  Do you or do you not want to be with Emily?  Oh, she’s talking to another boy?  What’s his name?  Why would you want to be with him?  Do you really think he’s the right one for you?

High school crushes are complicated.  A lot of the times they are talking with other people and feeling of jealousy can rise from the dirt.  You don’t want to tell them what to do with their lives, but you desperately want to be with them as well.  The game captures these feelings perfectly.  It also hits home in a lot of different ways, thanks to the relatability of the scenario. Whether you like it or not, your relationship changes with Emily as you go through college and no matter what you say, the distance between you and her continues to grow.  The ending is pretty depressing, but it’s extremely powerful in execution.  It’s an outcome that you probably dread from the start, but it’s a part of life.  The game has different endings, but I’m unsure if you are able to get a “positive” outcome, no matter how hard you try, which is kind of unfortunate.  However, I think the negative endings work a lot better for the story and they give it more impact.

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All the other details surrounding your conversations with Emily are some of the best parts of the game.  Like I mentioned before, the game’s interface lovingly recreates the Window XP desktop. You have your messaging application that you use to talk with Emily as well as your “buddy list” that has all of your friends.  Before every conversation, I found myself reading through my friends’ user bios which usually consisted of song lyrics or other meaningful quotes.  Just like your relationship with Emily, your friends have changed too, and depending on the choices you make with Emily, you have the power to bring them closer or drive them away.  It’s a neat little aspect of the game that only garnishes the meat of the experience.  A part of me wishes that I could have talked with these other friends as well, but that would have only distracted me from the main conversation at hand.  It could have worked, but it would have been tougher to implement in a meaningful and enriching way.

Even details like your “buddy icon” that you select before every year (five years divide into five chapters or conversations) did a great job at putting you in the early 2000s.  The instant I saw the Harry Potter and Eminem logos that you could choose for your icon, I knew I was going to like this game.  There’s also plenty of hidden surprises that unlock different Easter eggs throughout the course of the game as well.  If you set your username to be “vaultdweller” for instance, you might get a special icon available for use.  Some usernames also trigger conversational cues that can add some variety to the conversations as well.  Setting your username to be the exact same as Brad’s (the boy Emily is talking to) can lead to a funny and confusing situation.  (Try it.)

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The short experience that Emily Is Away provides is extremely powerful and one of the most relatable games I have ever played.  Not only does it provide a deeply engrossing, and ultimately sad, story but it also hits all of the nostalgic beats of the early 2000s.  The game is essentially a friend zone simulator and it succeeds in every aspect of its execution.  I would have liked the game to be a bit longer so I could spend more time with the character of Emily, but I think the game is alright where it stands.  If you love sweating over what to say to your crush, then this game is most definitely for you.

emily is away score

Also available on Mac and Linux.

Review: Love Season 1

love season 1
via Melty

Love (Season 1) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Comedy / Romance

Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty

Creators: Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust

Your telling me there’s another show about love?  Another show about the trials and tribulations that relationships bring with them?  I guess it’s not that surprising when you think about it.  The topic of love is a subject that has been tackled time and time again.  It’s certainly not an original theme.  Teaming up with Netflix, Judd Apatow has put out a new comedic show about the journey of love, appropriately titled Love.  So far nothing about this show sounds original…but Apatow finds another angle that makes the show a little refreshing.

love s1 1
via Beauty Slides

Love is the story of two star-crossed lovers who seem like the unlikely couple at the onset.  Mickey, played by Gillian Jacobs, is a rambunctious and loud girl who works for a radio show.  She’s an alcoholic and a sex addict who has her fair share of boy problems.  On the other hand, we have the timid and geeky Gus, played by Paul Rust, who works as a tutor at a big name television studio.  The two couldn’t be any more different but after a chance acquaintance at a gas station convenience store, the two being the long road to love.

Topics like first dates, ex-lovers, awkward parties, and sex are all covered over the course of the ten-episode series.  As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing original about Love’s subject matter, not even the name.  Series creator Judd Apatow, the guy behind other hit comedies like Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, and Girls, manages to change things up and gives the concept of love a different perspective.  Mickey and Gus have different views on the subject of love and their outlooks on the crazy rollercoaster of romance are what make the series interesting and different from the rest.  Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely moments where I was like, “okay, this has been done before,” but the show managed to stay fresh a lot more than I initially thought.

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The first half of the season acts as a character study, examining Mickey and Gus and the type of people that they are.  These kinds of episodes happen a lot over the course of the season.  There’s even an episode that revolves around the two’s days at work and the kind of madness surrounding their respective workplaces.  Weird creepy bosses and dramatic Hollywood actresses, you know, normal fare.  Admittedly the show gets off to a slow start but begins to pick up when the two start to get into a more serious relationship.  As things intensify between the two, things get a lot more interesting.  The last couple of episodes were not only full of hilarious situations, but serious drama as well.  I wasn’t expecting the show to get as serious as it got…but there’s an interesting story to tell behind Love’s comedic exterior.

Judd Apatow has put out a show that gives a funny view of love, but also a sobering one.  Love isn’t perfect in its execution but it’s a fun show with some really likable characters.  I haven’t even mentioned Mickey’s roommate Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) who was actually one of my favorite parts of the show.  The show gives us a stunningly accurate depiction of love, one that is instantly relatable to anyone who has had a bout with love.  Love is a fun little show, one that I was not expecting to enjoy.  The show has already been renewed for another season, so we’ll see where Apatow goes with this comedy.  Also, how many times have I said “love” during this review.  It almost sounds silly at this point.  Love love love.  By the way…..love.  Okay, I’m done now.

love s1 score

Review: Fruitvale Station

via Daily Inspiration
via Daily Inspiration

Fruitvale Station (2013)

R / 85 min

Biography / Drama / Romance

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer

Director: Ryan Coogler

Fruitvale Station literally opens up with a literal bang…and no that is not a joke.  We are instantly introduced to the footage of Oscar Grant getting shot by a police officer in a San Francisco BART station on New Years Day back in 2009. It’s grainy cell phone footage probably taken by astounded onlookers…which makes it all the more real and disturbing.  This reminds me of Titanic, a movie where you know how it is going to end, but the stories of the ships passengers make the inevitable end all the more hard to swallow.  Fruitvale Station does the exact same thing, focusing on the day before the fatal shooting.

Oakland native Ryan Coogler is the director behind the film, which makes sense given his proximity to the events that took place.  The events hit him hard which eventually drove him to make the film based on the shooting.  It’s possible that he took some creative liberties and painted the picture in a light that portrayed the cops as the extreme bad guys and then made it seem like they were let off the hook pretty easily during the ending credit sequence recapping the events in words.

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Michael B. Jordan plays the role of Oscar Grant, a humble man who tries to stay positive and carefree amid the numerous problems that get thrown his way. He gets caught up in the drug trade, although he eventually weans himself clean.  He also has some trouble with work, eventually losing his job.  Things could be a lot better for Grant, a man who has a daughter to raise and a family to run, but he beams positivity through it all.  His favorite thing to say is “everything is going to be alright,” even up to the final moments of his life where he is being held by the police officers.  I do not know if Grant was actually that positive in real life, but it does not seem natural for a man in such a crappy situation.

Coogler does an amazing job at building up to the final moments of the movie in the BART station.  We get a “day in the life” view of Grant’s life, which involves his mother’s birthday, his relationship with his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), a trip to his work on his off day, taking his daughter to the learning center, and New Years Eve dinner with his family.  Just like Titanic, I started to grow a large attachment to Grant.  The final scenes, although I did not know how they were going to play out, were in the back of my head for the entirety of the movie.  The moment where Grants mom, played by Octavia Spencer, told him to take the BART going into town for New Years night was where the realization really kicked in.

via Movie Gos
via Movie Gos

What I started to notice as the film moved on is the gritty and low-budget nature of the film’s production.  I do not know the actual budget of the movie and how much Coogler and his team had to work with, but you could tell that there was a down to earth and low-budget feel to the movie.  In any other movie this might be a downside, but this kind of look really enhances the story of Fruitvale Station.  The beginning starts off with the grainy cell phone footage and then the rest of the movie follows suit with the low-budget looks.  It makes the events taking place on screen seem even more real, especially during the sequence in the BART station.

The final moments of the film, where we finally get to view what took place on that fateful night, was the ultimate climax.  The build-up never grew old and outstayed its welcome.  It was necessary in order to make the shooting hit home the hardest.  Like I mentioned before, the police were portrayed to be insanely evil, which might not have been the case in real life.  Whatever the case was, it still made the shooting even harder to watch once more.

via Daily Republic
via Daily Republic

Some creative decisions were probably made to bring out the emotions from viewers, but Fruitvale Station is a touching movie about the fatal death of Oscar Grant, a family man.  The supporting cast holds up pretty well, but its Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of Grant that takes home the awards.  The movie is all about him and his life that was cut short in what might be one of the worst ways possible.  It’s a movie that might be hard to watch for some, but it’s a movie that does its job of recreating the events that need to be seen.

fruitvale station score

Review: Silver Linings Playbook

playbook posterSilver Linings Playbook (2012)

R / 122 min

Comedy / Romance / Drama

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Director: David O. Russell

Silver Linings Playbook is not your typical romance story.  In fact, it’s probably the farthest thing from being normal.  Most romances feature two perfect people who come together and work perfectly with each other.  This movie, directed by David O. Russell, stars two very different people who have their very specific problems.  No one would ever have thought that these two would work so well together in the end.

The movie starts with the first piece of the puzzle, Pat (Bradley Cooper).  He is a former teacher who just got off a stint at a mental institution for complications with his marriage.  As seen through flashbacks, Pat walked in on his wife, now ex-wife, Nikki (Brea Bee) cheating on a history teacher.  To make things even worse, the song that played on their wedding day could be heard in the background during the act.  Pat snapped on the guy and literally beat him to death.

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Pat is a guy that shouldn’t be liked, but it is hard not to root for him.  His mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) picks him up from the institution and from then on, he is determined to mend his relationship with Nikki, despite the numerous restraining orders that have been put in him.  The motto that Pat has throughout the movie is there is a silver lining to everything, no matter how bad or crappy things tend to be.  It’s honestly a pretty good way to live your life.

Pat’s relationship with his father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) is probably the best part of the movie.  Both guys have their things.  Pat is bi-polar and he can snap between different emotions pretty quickly.  His father is OCD and very superstitious, especially when it comes to his Philadelphia Eagles.  He constantly puts money down on the games and he believes that his son is the good luck charm that leads the birds to victory every Sunday.  They don’t have the best relationship though, but you see their relationship rise to a new level as the movie moves on.  The scenes that feature these two are some of the most gripping parts of the movie.

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Then Pat meets a peculiar woman named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).

She is the second part of the puzzle.  The minute that Pat meets her, he begins to feel the attraction towards her.  But he can’t embrace these feelings, he’s married right?  But as Tiffany swiftly remarks, “she’s married too.”  Her husband died during an accident on the highway.  She has been a widow for some time, but that doesn’t stop her from sleeping with other guys.


Tiffany and Pat, the relationship that the movie primarily focuses on, is the strangest couple known to man.  They can both be considered crazy at times.  One likes his football and his literature, the other prefers dancing and basically anything that has to do with football.  How do these two get along?  How are they attracted to each other?

That’s the magic behind the movie.  You see a couple that shouldn’t work and get along on paper, but they find the best parts of each other and run with it.  Everybody has their silver lining, right?  Yeah, Tiffany starts to veer Pat away from his end goal of getting together with Nikki, but there chemistry together is amazing.  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who have worked together in the past, really work well together in movies.  They both have amazing performances in Silver Linings Playbook.

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In a sense, when I look back at the movie, it seems to be bi-polar in nature, almost like Pat himself.  The relationship between Pat and Tiffany and the relationship between Pat and Pat Sr. have their fair share of ups and downs.  Sometimes they go up and down real quickly, perhaps even in the same scene.  But everything seems to work out in the end.

The relationships of these individuals causes a lot of arguments, which leads me to another favorite part of the movie; the shouting.  This movie features a lot of shouting.  Someone will say something, which rubs another the wrong way.  The intensity builds as the voices raise and we soon see ourselves watching a shouting match.  Perhaps it’s Pat’s bi-polar nature that starts these arguments.  Either way, these are the scenes that fascinate me the most.

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One thing that I haven’t mentioned yet is the humor.  But, how could I forget it?  It’s not the kind of humor that will have you rolling around laughing.  Instead, it’s the humor that puts a smile to your face.  Its cunning and brilliant.  The movie has charm, and everybody seems to make light of the situations that they are in, given how crappy they might be.

Silver Linings Playbook has probably been one of my favorite movies I have seen this year.  There’s just something about it that makes me smile every time I think about it.  It’s charming, funny, dark, romantic, emotional, vibrant, and just plain terrific.  All at the same time.  Like I said in the beginning, this is not your average romance.  However, everything about this movie is fantastic, and everything clicks.  It’s a well-oiled machine. Everything about it just works.




Review: Don Jon

Don Jon posterDon Jon (2013)

Comedy / Drama / Romance

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Rated R / 90 min


Don Jon is a movie about porn.  Now wait, before I lose you, let me tell you that it is more specifically about porn addiction.  Okay, that probably didn’t help.  Movies that deal with porn are more often than naught distasteful and sometimes offensive in how they are handled.  You often feel weird watching them because let’s be honest, your basically watching porn.  However, Don Jon, directed by Joseph Gordon Levitt (and also the main star of the film), is actually kinda tasteful in how pornography and the physiological effects that come with it are dealt with.

The film, as previously stated, stars Joesph Gordon-Levitt who plays Jon, the all-around definition of masculinity.  The things he cares about?  He cares about his body, his house, his ride, his family, his religion, his boys, his girls. and….his porn.  Now why would a man that has a pretty active sex life care so much about porn?  This is the basic question that drives the movie.  The question that is constantly explored by the different characters.

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One night at the club, he discovers a lady that he can’t forget; love at first sight.  Her name is Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) and she plays the “hard to get” type.  Jon decides to go after her and they eventually get into a relationship, which starts to change the way he lives.  She makes him go to a night class, makes him go with her to see the unrealistic romantic movies, and probably most importantly, makes him stop watching porn.  It’s one night that she walks in on Jon who is in the middle of the act when she forces Jon to make a promise with her.  She is the type of woman that will change Jon from a boy into a man.

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It’s from this point on in the movie that we really start to see the physiological effects that porn can have on someone.  Jon has an addiction and it is near impossible for him to stop.  It’s the fictional and unrealistic scenarios that the girls in porn are put into.  His perception of women is based of those unrealistic models in those videos that he masturbates to every night.  As he puts it, “porn is better than the actual thing.”

While at night class, he meets a woman that really puts it into perspective for him.  Esther (Julianne Moore) stumbles on Jon during one of the classes who is watching porn on his phone.  This really awkward meet-up actually springs a relationship between the two that is probably the weirdest things in the movie, but also the thing that just makes the most sense.  I don’t want to spoil anything but lets just say that Esther probably has some of the deepest wisdom for Jon that really changes the way he goes about things.

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The subject matter that this movie can be off-putting but is the most intriguing part of the whole experience.  We see a man who is totally consumed by his addiction and we see how it affects his everyday life and his interactions with everybody he is close with.  It almost feels like we are observing a specimen the whole entire movie.  It’s almost voyeuristic in nature, but it’s interesting nevertheless.

The ending left a little to be desired.  It felt like the movie did make a point, and it got it off pretty well, but it just seemed a little abrupt.  It was a little weird and I feel like it was just missing a final scene or two.

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Another thing that might leave some people with a bad taste in their mouths is the handling of the porn that is featured in the movie.  Even though the movie is trying to handle the subject matter in the best way possible, it is still tough for anybody to have a movie about porn without it being graphic in nature.  There are numerous women that are seen being taken advantage of in the scattered clips throughout the movie and you just can’t help but feel a little weird watching it all.  It will most likely be offensive to women, even though the movie is not being made with that intention in mind.  I commend Don Jon for the interesting look at a pornographic addiction, even though it might not be for everyone to see.

Don Jon can probably be considered one of the best, and probably one of the weirdest movies I have seen this year.  It is funny, it is smart, and most of all, it is a movie that had a point it wanted to make.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his writing and directorial debut did a great job.  If he can make films like this in the future, I will definitely be sure to pay attention to what he has to say.

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