Chloe (2010) -vs- Fatal Attraction (1987)

March 23, 2010 Bryce Zabel

If you’ve ever been loved by somebody too tightly, then you know how scary it could be to let someone in your life and then not know how to extricate yourself from their smothering grasp. The trick in erotic thrillers like “Chloe” and “Fatal Attraction” is execution. Too far on one side of the spectrum, they become cerebral. Too far on the other side, they become unintentionally comedic.

Although “Fatal Attraction” defined this genre back in the late 80s, it’s been re-visited over the years in films like “The Hand That Rocked the Cradle” and “Single White Female,” and now it gets brought to life again in “Chloe.” All I can say before we begin is that seeing these two back-to-back is enough to drive the average person to mandatory background checks on all potential lovers. Be afraid, be very afraid.
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Dear John (2010) -vs- The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946)

February 18, 2010 Sherry Coben

“The Best Years Of Our Lives” stands tall as the ultimate and still unsurpassed drama about WWII’s returning soldiers, made in 1946 by William Wyler from a pitch-perfect script by Robert Sherwood. Director Lasse Hallström enters the love-and-war fray with his effort “Dear John” based on a novel by the very popular (if slightly gooey) Nicholas Sparks. The war in question is a lot more confusing than WWII, and the story is a whole lot soapier/dopier, but the eternal questions remain the same. What does war do to soldiers and their families and the women they love?
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Valentine’s Day: It’s As Bad As They Say It Is

February 14, 2010 Bryce Zabel

What a waste of film stock.

That thought kept running through my brain over-and-over while watching all 117 excruciating minutes of this god-awful film that will end up earning $66-million over the four-day holiday. I don’t care. It could make $66-billion and it would still be one of the biggest disappointments that’s hit the theaters in the last 25 years. If you haven’t seen it, please don’t. It will only encourage them to do this to us again.

It’s just tone-deaf. Even though Katherine Fugate gets the screenwriting credit and must share the blame, watching the film’s directing choices leads to the strong conclusion that director Garry Marshall is mostly responsible. I’m betting he came up with or forced Fugate to put in some of the film’s most hideous moments. It’s his out-of-touch sensibility that infuses every frame with such a stunning lack of authenticity. Some people say the structure and even some of the details try to rip off “Love Actually” but this film should be so lucky as to have stolen something from Richard Curtis’s masterpiece. […]

VOTE NOW: Rom-Com Smackdown in Time for Valentine’s Day

February 1, 2010 Sherry Coben

Our personal memories mingle seamlessly with our movie memories; classic romantic comedies make the sweetest and most thoughtful gift, longer lasting than any box of chocolates or long-stemmed roses.
Celebrate with us to find our readers’ all-time favorite Romantic Comedy. Many of our favorite films didn’t make the poll; we apologize most heartily if we’ve neglected to include yours.
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When In Rome (2010) -vs- Roman Holiday (1953)

January 29, 2010 Sherry Coben

Featuring precious little Rome and a lot of Antic, “When In Rome” falls back on every exhausted (and exhausting) rom-com convention in the book. In Rome for her sister’s wedding, a career woman cynically steals coins from a fountain and unknowingly makes five strangers fall madly in love with her. Kristen Bell makes for an adorable lead who needs fresher and smarter material to reach her full rom-com heroine potential. Josh Duhamel stands tall as her love object, slightly less generic than the usual rom-com Ken doll. There’s not much standing in their way, no real obstacles, and therein lies the rub. The two meet semi-cute in the first ten minutes, and we know they’ll wind up together; nothing much happens in the middle to call their happy ending into question. There’s much ado about the nothing; pilfered coins, local legend, and enchanted suitors sound like more fun than they are.
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An Education (2009) -vs- A Single Man (2009)

January 28, 2010 Sherry Coben

It’s 1962, stylishly retro and way cool. TV’s Mad Men have paved the cultural way for two more stellar entries in the Sex And The Sixties pantheon. With the swinging sixties looming right on the horizon, Los Angeles college literature professor George (Colin Firth) and sixteen year old suburban London student Jenny (Carey Mulligan) fumble their un-merry ways through the rough-and-tumble terrain of love, loss, secrets, and sexual experience. Both lead performances have stirred up considerable Academy Award buzz, but they’re unlikely to compete head to head anywhere but right here. Dewy Maiden with Distinct Audrey Hepburn Echoes takes on World-Weary Confirmed Bachelor with a Not-So-Secret Secret. The winner? A grateful arthouse (and beyond) audience.
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Bright Star (2009) -vs- Impromptu (1991)

January 26, 2010 Sherry Coben

Ah, consumption. That most romantic and cinematic of slow fades. Think Camille. Two wildly talented love objects with fatally bad lungs compete for this particular smackdown crown. It’s Frederic Chopin versus Bright Star John Keats in a death-baiting battle of ill-fated geniuses, fighting for every breath, playing fast and loose with history, and winning lovely lady hearts as they struggle for ours. I dare you to find two more gorgeous grandees, two saintlier objects of obsession in all filmdom. Go ahead. I’ll wait here.
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Leap Year (2010) -vs- Youth in Revolt (2010)

January 20, 2010 Sherry Coben

Cookie cutter romantic comedy satisfies a too-easily edified audience. No matter how formulaic and tepid the sausage, the factories grind out more product to feed the gaping maw; indie films usually attract a more marginal fringe-ier crew, on the hunt for the original, the untold (or even oft-told) story told in fresh new ways. Pitting a humble little indie versus a major studio wide release makes for an inherently unfair fight and one with a foregone conclusion at the box office, but ticket sales won’t sway this Smackdown. As “Leap Year” bounds onto virtually every available screen and Quirky Indie-That-Could “Youth In Revolt” limps onto a fraction of that number, ask yourself: Is bigger necessarily better? Does conventional beat quirky?
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