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(500) Days of Summer (2009) -vs- Annie Hall (1977)

July 31, 2009 Jackie Zabel 9

(500) Days of Summer takes many of its cues from a certain New York filmmaker, making it similar to a pivotal movie in the entire rom-com genre, Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Maybe that’s what got the screenplay nominated this year by the Writers Guild of America.

What unites both films here is their exploration of male feelings. Yes — guy feelings — and not just lust. Both men have a desire to connect with a woman that goes beyond plugging into a sexual electric socket (although both celebrate first plug-ins, as it were), but really these guys want a relationship based also on meeting emotional needs as well as their romantic visions of love.

Here’s the Smackdown question: Has Annie Hall aged well enough to still hold onto its crown, or is it just an aging fighter, great in its day, but no match for the moves of a younger, better-trained opponent? Let’s go to the movies and find-out… […]

Our Comment About Comments

July 30, 2009 Movie Smackdown 0

Here at Movie Smackdown! we know how much people like to talk about films. When you walk out of a theater, the chances are you’re comparing notes with your friends about what you saw. And, quite often, you’re comparing the evening’s film with another that it reminds you of in some way.

So, after you’ve read what our SmackRefs have to say here, let loose with your own thoughts.

The first thing that means is vote in one of our PollDaddy sponsored polls. They’re in each of our Smackdowns. We know that you expect our SmackRefs to tell you what they think, but we also know that you may have your own opinon. So do vote.

Also, consider our Comments section as the place you go to post your own reviews. Or disagree with our SmackRefs and they will respond to your comments for some back-and-forth.

Join us for a little film-on-film combat. […]

The Ugly Truth (2009) -vs- Romantic Comedy

July 25, 2009 Sherry Coben 15

Once again, Hollywood perpetrates a hate crime against humanity and romance disguised as harmless piffle. “The Ugly Truth,” yet another bright-and-shiny anti-romantic comedy, flounces into our midst, full of makeovers and double entendres, movie stars and other clichés that might fool you into thinking it’s enjoyable. Perhaps I’m getting crabby after so many dollars have been picked from my metaphorical pockets by this Godforsaken genre, but it’s high time to go back to the drawing board. I surrender, Studio Executives. Gimme a time machine. A time machine or a movie emporium that screens the romantic comedy classics I love, the theater of my mind. Please return to making the kind of movies that made me fall in love with love and movies.

Away We Go (2009) -vs- Juno (2007)

July 9, 2009 Bryce Zabel 4

Did you ever have to make up your mind? Both “Away We Go” and “Juno” are about those decisions that come from life that can’t be fudged, postponed or ignored. Even though both films involve pregnant leads who aren’t married to the fathers of their unborn, there’s more here than childbirth. Each film lets us see a big life question presented in a way that shows there isn’t always a “right” answer. Sometimes life forces us to choose. To pick up on one and leave the other behind. Well, we have to choose now, too. Should we go with the the couple of thirtysomethings who have to decide where to make their stand with a new baby; or the teenage girl who has a “go-no go” decision to make about a baby of her own and the boyfriend who’s in way over his head?

Public Enemies (2009) -vs- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

July 7, 2009 Sherry Coben 9

Gangsters have occupied a rather over-elevated rung on the movie subject matter ladder since the first hand-cranked silents unspooled for the hungry hordes a century ago. Criminals lead such dramatic lives, so full of danger and tragedy and excitement that we naturally look to them for our movie myths and anti-heroes. We fantasize and fetishize these quintessential losers so dutifully that they continue to exude glamour and power some seventy-odd years past their reign of terror. Their Depression seemed more romantic, more photo-ready than our own, their poverty and hard times made picturesque by the passage of time. Criminal desperation and anarchic violence gets rendered literary and archetypal. So which film featuring the fall of which ill-fated bankrobber/lover makes the grade? Depp’s dapper Dillinger faces off squarely with Beatty’s Barrow.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) -vs- The Thin Red Line (1998)

July 1, 2009 Movie Smackdown 19

War is hell. And until Steven Spielberg got involved, we’d never really experienced war through the eyes of a soldier. We’d come close, with filmmakers as diverse as Coppola and Oliver Stone all giving us their interpretations, but it always seemed to be at a safe distance. The viewer was taken on a journey, but not our own journey. Unlike Ron Kovic or Ben Willard, who undertake a journey for us, Spielberg attempted to give us our own experience in war without having to leave the cinema. “Saving Private Ryan,” which graphically shows us the D-Day landings of a group of US forces in 1944, opens with an assault on the senses unlike any we’d ever seen. It thrust us into the heat of battle, the confusion and carnage of an assault that beggars description. It wanted us to know exactly what war is really like.