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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Movie Reviews: Romance

Here are some short opinions on some movies that I've seen recentlyThese are the romantic comedies. I'll deal with action and drama later on.

EDIT: Amanda and I just saw King Kong tonight. Yeah, there something to be said about this movie. It requires some room, too, so back up.

Just Like Heaven with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Rufalo

I'm starting with the lighter side of my recent viewings. This movie fell into the catagory of movies that I would never have seen on my own. By that I mean of my own choice. But every now and then Amanda and I comprimise and I end up seeing a chick flick. Luckily, Witherspoon charms the socks off of me everytime she's on the screen despite her tendency to play the same cutey in every movie. Of course, isn't that what happens when you're a big star and writers create characters with you in mind?

Just Like Heaven surprised me, though, because it was funny and heartfelt and had all of those cheesy, chick-flick things, except one: it did't suck. It was good. I laughed, I didn't cry, but I felt for the characters and Witherspoon and Rufalo had chemistry. It worked. And there was even enough darkness and macabre to really interest me.

3.5 bulls (out of five)

Elizabethtown with Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst

I think that everyone is allowed a celebrity crush, right? Well, mine is Miss Dunst. It has been for a while. I don't even think that she's that great of an actress. I think she's good, but what attracts me to her is the way that her own style and personality shine through in all of her characters. Some people (uneducated) think that this means that she plays all of her characters the same way. But this isn't a bad thing. If at least some of an actor's personality doesn't show through they probably weren't right for the part. This happens all the time because producers want big stars in their movies, but don't always get the star that they originally wanted. So they settle for a big name that isn't right for the part.

I digress. Kirsten and Bloom are both striking and really work as a couple who meet and by coincidence end up saving each other. Bloom's man needs saving more, but I really think that it's mutual. You see, Bloom is a suicidal shoe designer that finds a reason to put his own death on hold to deal with the death of his father. He meets Dunst, who obviously needs something in her life, and she basically keeps him alive while he deals with the legacy that his father left behind and the family that he has gotten used to not having to deal with.

Cameron Crowe write and directs this movie, true to the formula that he has perfected. Crowe is brilliant with stories about tragic heros who bravely shoot for the stars and miss. Not everyone goes for this type of tragicomedy, but it certainly strikes a chord with me.

4.5 bulls

Shop Girl with Claire Danes, Jason Schwartsman, and Steve Martin

This movie has been compared to Lost in Translation for the simple fact that Steve Martin, like Bill Murray, is of the original SNL comedian generation (I know that Martin was never an SNL cast member, but come on, he might as well have been) and because he is playing out of type. His character, like Murray's, is a depressed man in his fifties, dealing with a mid-life crisis and hooks up with a girl young enough to be his daughter. This is where the comparison's end.

Don't take this the wrong way. I liked Lost in Translation. I know many people who didn't. The thing about Shop Girl that makes it so strikingly different is that it has a plot. There is in Shop Girl, unlike Lost in Translation a discernable initial incident, climax and denoument. While these things exist in Lost in Translation to find them would require a committee and several hours of discussion.

Shop Girl also focuses on Danes character instead of Martin's, also. (BTW, Clare is my other celebrity crush, but it stops there, except for Kate Winslet) Danes is a shy, lonely soul trying to make it in LA as an artist but can't quite find a way out of her hum-drum life working in the glove department of a ritzy Beverly Hills store. Gloves you say? Exciting? No. But this only adds to the picture that is being painted for us of what kind of world our heroine is living in. When she is courted by an older man simply seeking a bed-buddy she is able to add a little bit of spice to her life, but also falls into what can only be described as an unhealthy relationship. We know this isn't going to end well because, unlike Lost in Translation we never get the feeling that the age difference is ignored. It's there staring both of them in the face the entire movie just waiting to be uttered. Like the awkward conversation between two lovers about what that thing actually is, and can it be removed, the age issue cannot be ignored and Clare's character inevidably must be hurt in the process.

Schwartzman adds some seemingly misplaced, but much needed comedy to the movie as a one night stand who keeps calling Danes after she is already in the relationship with Martin. I'm a big fan of his character as the spaz who actually works at bettering himself for a girl that he doesn't actually believe he can be with. It's that type of quirky, unabashed, stupid optimism, that I will route for every time.

4 bulls


Paige Robins said...

Yes, Seth and I really enjoyed Just Like Heaven. Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo are both really talented actors. I'm glad to hear that you though Elizabethtown was good. I hadn't seen it yet and I couldn't decide whether to or not, but I think I will now. Thanks for your reviews!

The Mad Cowboy said...

Thanks for the reviews. I wasn't sure about any of those movies, but now I'm sure I will see them.

Well actually, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to see Just Like Heaven. But now I'm like, "Sure. I'll see it."