Friday, July 17, 2009

"It's official. I'm in love with Summer."

Alright, this review is really thrown together, so don't hate me too much for it not being a masterclass in writing. I have a headache right now, so it's hard to write.

(500) Days of Summer is a little movie I heard about sometimes last year, and I read that Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt were both involved, which automatically caught my interest. Then, I read the plot summary, which was something like "Boy falls in love with a girl who doesn't believe in love," and I thought to myself, "This sounds like the most cliche thing ever." Never the less, because of the two stars, I continued to follow the project, and when I saw the trailer.. my anticipation was instantly boosted. So, my anticipation going into the film was high (obviously, I mean I drove an hour and 5 minutes to go to the only theatre even close to me to go see it).

I'm not going to go into plot, which, you will learn when you read my reviews, cause I find it to be a pointless exercise of the fingers to take up half of a review retelling the story. What I will say is that, the story is very simple. Our protagonist is Tom, a 20-something who works at a greeting card company who is kind of a hopeless romantic, and he meets Summer, who just moved from Michigan and is now an assistant at the greeting card company Tom works at. They meet, and instantly form a relationship. The movie jumps back and forth from the bad to the good in their times together.

Marc Webb directs his first recognizable project, and does wonders with the film. It's really simple what he does, but it works so effectivly with the screenplay. Some of his choices are so unique, and could've turned almost self-indulgent, but they end up making the film original. Some of the choices that made me fall in love with the film. To have Tom do a little dance numbers after the first time him and Summer have intercourse, just made me smile from ear to ear. And one of my favorite points in the film is the decision to do a split screen from expectations and reality when Tom goes to Summer's roof-top party. Whenever there's a montage, it's done marvelously.For the most part, the decisions on the Webb's part are simple, with some splashes of originallity that make the film what it is.

As for the screenplay, it's pretty much what I expected going in. It's never complicated, you are never confused, and it's really easy listening. The dialogue is wonderful, the characterization of the two main people is absolutely brilliant (especially Tom), to the point where you get so emotionally invested in both of them that you really never want the 500 days to end. The creativity to flip flop back and forth from one point in the story, to another, really gave us a nice balance of the two halves of the film. It could've just been told in order from day one to day five-hundred but it wouldn't have been. The choice of narration could've been disasterous, because the story is so simple that it pretty much spoon feeds the audience (and no one likes to be spoon fed), but the voice is easy to listen to, and it's never over bearing.. only used sparingly. The story is so simple and trying to describe the plot, you would just say to yourself. "Okay.. whats so special about this?" It's one of those scripts you need to see for yourself to understand what makes it so special. The movie, I found, is very much comparable to my favorite film of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.. expect less complicated, and it ends differently. Oh, not to mention, the ending was perfect, and went as far away from cliche as it could.. and it worked amazingly.

There's really only two performances worth talking about. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Tom. I could do into depth about what makes his performance so special, but I'm not going to.. because, much like the script.. it's something you really need to see. People a;ways throw around the word natural, but I try to use it as little as possible because it's so hard to achieve a truly natural performance. Now, Joseph Gordon Levitt is just so natural, it's unbelivable. He's totally convincing in every line he says, is reserved for part of the movie, but lets it out when he needs to. He is just.. real. His performance is very comparable to Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine. His characterization of Tom in his physical and vocal ways are just pitch-perfect. Couldn't have been any better. Zooey Deschanel plays Summer, and does it very convincingly. Her performance is sweet, charming, natural, and great. She isn't as good as Levitt, but she plays her part very well. Oh, and can I mention how absolutely gorgeous she is? My god. There are just some shots of her smile that made my eyes turn into hearts. But, yeah.. she's good. She goes through a lot of emotion in the film (much like Levitt, though probably to a lesser extent), and she does it all convincingly. Their acting chemistry was off the charts, and because they were both so natural, they just meshed perfectly.. when they're romantic, you believe it. When they're fighting, you believe it. The supporting players are all pretty good, especially Geoffrey Arend. Though, Matthew Gray Gubler got on my nerves tremendously whenever he was on the screen.. luckily he wasn't on screen very often.

Tech-wise, the movie is what it is. You don't expect too much from a little Fox Searchlight film, and you don't get much worth mentioning.. it's all about the script, direction, and acting. Huge props to the editing team though, cause the scene transitions were incredibly smooth and the movie flew by. The cinematography is pretty simple. Some really nice shots, but not really outstanding. The soundtrack, however, is perfectly used and perfectly place. Every song is fantastic, and used in the right spot. Loved, loved, loved it. Everything else is what it is.. nothing really else needs to be mentioned.

Right at the begining of the film, the narrator tells you that "this is not a love story," and he's absolutely right. The movie is about life, and the people we meet, and the fate that life brings. The romance between Tom and Summer is unquestionably a wonderful thing to watch, but when everything unfolds, you totally understand why, because the script makes it so easy to relate. You're not getting a ground breaking film, nor a indie comedy, ala Juno, but more along the lines of Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind, with some drops of great humor, but a story of life. If you like that type of film, (500) Days will not disappoint you. This is one of those movies that will grow on you like moss, and the more I think about it, the better it gets.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Once again I must ask too much of you, Harry."

Don't you love going to a hyped-up film, just wondering whether or not it's going to live up to all of the hype. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was hyped on beyond belief, with it's pushed-back released date, incredible trailers, and fantastic source material. Did the film live up to it's build up? Well, lets take a look from a self admitted Potter maniac.

Oh, FYI, I'm going to skip over the whole "I tell you the plot of the film thing." If you want plot, go see the movie!

Let me start out my review by saying: How the hell did this film get a PG rating? Half Blood Prince deals with some really dark stuff, and is most certainly the darkest of the series thus far. The Potter series has been in the hands of many people, from Christopher Columbus, to Alfonso Cuaron, to Mike Newell (why, Warner Brothers, why?). But, the series has never been in better hands than it is now with David Yates (Order of the Phoenix). He's taken a novel that needed a certain kind of.. "it," and gives it just that. The atmosphere he creates in this film is perfect, creation such incredible tension at points, with some great comedy in others.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as Harry Potter, who to be quite frank, I've never been too impressed with. Now, I wasn't expecting too much out of him in the first two films, cause he was really young.. but in the third and fourth installment, I certainly expected more than I was delivered. In the last film (Order of the Phoenix), he was better than he had been.. but still not where he needed to be. Well, welcome to where you need to be, Mr. Radcliffe. His performance here is most certainly his most impressive to date. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he's going to be preparing his Oscar acceptance speech anytime soon.. because he's not that good. But, he's very servicable in the role.

The supporting cast is just.. outstanding. To start with, Michael Gambon as Prof. Albus Dumbledore took his acting level to a whole new level here. He has much more to do here than he has in the past, and he makes the most of it, giving Dumbledore a real personallity. He's got his little natural humor, but always being on a pedistal we can't quite reach.. but we never know exactly why. In the cave scene, as he's drinking and drinking the potion (I won't say too much, cause I don't want to give away plot) he's just totally convincing in everything he does. Jim Broadbent as Slughorn is an absolutely fantastic addition, bringing the most of the the character as Broadbent always does. Other outstanding performances from the usuals include Rickman (Snape), Carter (Bellatrix), Walters (Mrs. Weasley), Lewis (Lupin). The other kids really kick it into another gear here too. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) has a lot to do in this installment (unlike most of the previous ones), and he makes the most out of it, being the aarogant kid that he is, but showing us the real, scared, vunerable side of Malfoy as well. Rupert Grint shows us his comedic charm as Ron Weasly, and the talented Emma Watson played Hermionie just like she always does.. perfectly.

Now, here's what we're going to hear about non-stop. "THIS MOVIE WASN'T ANYTHING LIKE THE BOOK. WHAT THE HELL!" You know what? Suck it up. I'm a die hard fan of the novels, and I really don't have a problem with the cuts and changes the screenplay made. This is what you have to keep in mind: They're not trying to copy the novel word for word, but trying to create a cinematic experience of Harry Potter, and it most certainly does that. Sometimes, the screenplay gets a little muttled down in the whole teenage romance thing, but it works because it adds a new touch of comedy, and a realness to it. While it doesn't always stay faithful to it's source material.. it hits all of the major plot points, and nothing cruital is left out.. so why are all of you complaining? The ending wasn't as good as it could have been (the Snape/Potter confrentation, and the lack of "Battle of Hogwarts), but it was a fitting ending to the rest of the novel. Who cares that Luna finds Harry on the bus instead of Tonks, or Ginny and Harry's kiss is in a different spot. They're small details, and the screeplay isn't trying to mirror, so stop expecting that.

On a technical level, the film is nearly perfect. The special effects are obviously fantastic. They aren't over-used, which is exactly what I was hoping. The cinematography was so perfect. Every camera shot, every angle, every lighting choice.. just magnificant. Never self indlugent, but so much variety. Same goes with the score.. so lush, and gorgeous, and never hits a false note, nor is it ever out of place. As in all Harry Potter films, the rest of the technicals are great. We've come to expect that.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was certainly an experience. If you're a huge fan of the books, and are expecting a page by page copy of the novel.. then yeah, you're going to be disappointed. You have to go in and judge the film as what it is.. A FILM. And if I'm judging it like that, it's fantastic. It's not flawless, nor am I claiming that.. but it's the best Potter film so far, and I can't wait to see what Yates does with Deathly Hallows.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Love is a many splendored thing.

Since, I'm in the mood for love right now.. here's a count down of my 10 favorite romances in film. Mind you, this is not nessessarily me ranking the greatest films about love, rather the romances inside of films. Enjoy!


CASABLANCA (1942) is one of, if not the most classic film of all time, and for good reason. Featuring Humphrey Bogary as Rick Blaine, and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund, this beautiful tale is an essential for all romantics.


EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990), starring Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands, a unfinished creation, and Winona Ryder as Kim. The movie takes us on a magical journey, of when the two first meet.. and Kim is disgusted by Edward, all the way to the gorgeous ending, where Kim has fallin in love, and Edward has learned to feel.


DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) is an epic love story, of two totally different people, who share one thing: passion. The film stars Omar Sharif as Dr. Yuri Zhivago, and the stunning Julie Christie as Lara. This is one you must see for yourself to understand the beauty of the romance. A timeless classic.


ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953) has become the standard for romantic comedys today. The movie is a total delight from start to finish as our two main character are both so wonderful. The movie stars the iconic Audrey Hepburn in her Oscar-winning turn as Princess Ann and Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley. The two's chemistry is off the charts, and they have marked a place for themselves in romantic film history.


ROMEO AND JULIET (1968) is Franco Zeffirelli's telling of William Shakespeare's standard for love. When we think of pure and innocent love, the characters of Romeo (played by Leonard Whiting) and Juliet (played by Olivia Hussey) are the first thing that spring to mind. This adaptation of Shakespeare's work stands out to us because of the purity of the actors and the brilliant approach.


BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005) tells the story of Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), two cowboys who meet one another one summer hearding sheep. They find something that they never thought they would find, and that would follow them the rest of their lives: love. The two suffer because they must keep their love a secret because of societys views of homosexuality. A beautiful, tragic love story that will go down as one of the greatest of all time.


BEFORE SUNRISE (1995) and BEFORE SUNSET (2004) have really cemented themselves in the romantic history books. Before Sunrise shows us the first encounter of Jesse, played by Ethan Hawke, and Cecily, played by Julie Delpy. One day they meet on a train, and decide to spend the entire day together in Italy, and fall in love in the process. The movies love is rich and beautiful. Then, 9 years later, we are taken to France, to show the twos suprising second encounter, after a day neither will ever forget. We are taken to them talking about what their lives have become, and what they wish would have happen on that special night 9 years ago. The movies ending is just about as perfect as they get, and this is a must-see for anyone whos ready to think.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991) is a "tale as old as time." Disney's classic is the story of a man who's been turned into a Beast for his selfish ways, and Belle, a strong willed girl who happens to live in a town where everyone accepts the ordinary. One day, Belle's father stumbles into the Beast's enchanted castle, and Belle is forced there to rescue him. Once there, though it takes quite a bit of work, the two fall in love with eachother, and the two live happily ever after, despite a man "roughly the size of a barge" trying to get in their way.


SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998) lets us do what we've always wanted: get an insight on the life of the most famous writer of all time, William Shakespeare (played by Joseph Fiennes). He finds his muse in Viola (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), a girl looking for passion, poetry, and love. The two meet doing the thing they both love most.. but because of class destinction and people around them, their love is forbidden. So, a tale that mirrors Romeo and Juliet takes place, and it is a comic, yet sad tale of love so wonderful and beautiful.


ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004) connects with me like no other film, as do the films two lead characters. Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) is a shy, confused man who one day meets the love his is life, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet). But, as we come to find out, this isn't their first go around. Clementine has Joel erased from her memory, and in a fit of spit, does the same to her. (Doesn't sound too romantic, does it?) But, as we go inside the head of Joel, and we see the twos relationship from the last fight they got into, going backwards all the way to the first day we met, we realize to ourself, why people fall in love in the first place. The twos relationship is so real, and it lets us remember that no matter how angry we can get sometimes, we can't take the ones we love for granted, cause they can be gone in a split second. The movie is my favorite of all time, as is the romance in it.

"You like the theatre? You're a fag."

As I was laying in my bed last night, I was just thinking about a number of different things.. and one thing occured to me.

How exactly did the world of theatre get an automatic association with homosexuals? It's just another form of entertainment, just like movies or TV. Why is it that theatre got the connection with homosexuals out of all the forms of entertainment? In the group of people that I do theatre with, I know a good majority of them are athletes, and are completely heterosexual.

Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't denoting homosexuals in any sense, saying that they are better or worse than heterosexuals, rather than questioning how such a label put on the group. A lot of people who aren't interested in theatre are quick to say that people in theatre are gay.. but has anyone ever bothered to ask why this is? If were going to jump to such conclusions, why not just say that anyone who watches movies or TV is gay, because that would be appropriate. These people who jump on theatre-goers backs and are quick to call them gay, are the same people who call actors like Matt Damon their favorites. Little do they know, Matt Damon started his acting career right on the high school stage at St. Johns prep.

To me, it's truely mind-boggling how ignorant some people can be. Speaking from a personal experience, I've had people who I've become friends with tell me that they think the theatre is gay, yet love other forms of entertainment like movies and TV. I love the theatre, and yet I'm totally comfortable with my sexuality (I'm heterosexual). The fact is, that all of these means of art are all doing the same thing: telling a story. Of course there are homosexuals who love the theatre, and they have every right to. But there are also homosexuals who love movies and television as well, so if you're going to be quick to slap a label on people who like theatre as "fags," then you should probably slap the label on yourself as well, too.. because chances are you love at least one form of entertainment as well. And, if you are homosexual, and you love the theatre, then good for you! You should be free to do anything you please, as anyone should, without being stereotyped.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

one day at a time.

I've always taken the time to read peoples blogs, I guess because I've always found getting an insight on the little things in peoples life fascinating. So, this blog is to simply give you a little insight on my life.. which at times can be a little boring, but I've got some pretty fantastic things I want to share.

I've been thinking about starting a blog for at least a year, but the biggest problem was, I didn't know what to write. Incase you didn't know, I'm a bit of a writer. I've written a play, a few short storys, poetry, songs, and part of a novel.. which to be honest, just kind of comes naturally to me. I didn't know if I could just.. write about me. Writing about other characters that aren't yourself is actually really easy, but the difficult thing is expressing your own personal feelings in a creative manor.

So, after much consideration, instead of trying to come up with one specific thing to write my blog about, I thought to myself, "Why not make the blog about.. life in general?" It just made perfect sense to me. A film review here, a summery of my day there, a theory I've come up with every now and then.. and there it is. A blog about.. me.

So, if you haven't already tuned me out, welcome to my blog.. an expression of me.