Finally, itâ€™s awards season again, when the really big guns take aim for our hearts, minds, and pocketbooks. Coming out swinging for the bleachers are two movies made for adults of a certain (middle) age, the demographic that lopes through the rest of the year nearly forgotten, begging for scraps at a table set for callow youth and action figures. George Clooney and Meryl Streep both navigate the rough and increasingly muddied waters of love and commitment, and itâ€™s a thrill to watch them struggle.
Â The Smackdown Imagine, if you will, a time before computer animation. When the only way of moving pictures on film was to draw them all frame by frame, usually by hand, and occasionally by Xerox […]
Love, or something like it, is in the air. And British director Richard Curtis seems to want us all to know about it. His penchant for films featuring multiple story-lines and a vast array of characters is well documented, especially with the two films featured today. So with the release this week of “Pirate Radio” across US cinema screens, we thought we’d put Curtis’s latest up against one of his classics.
Both films are perfectly dreadful/wonderful in entirely different (if entertaining) ways, and itâ€™s going to be difficult coming up with a clear winner; however, it will be delightful deciding which guy would make the dreamier husband. The women on hand provide no contest whatsoever; Rose Byrneâ€™s performance is whiney and borderline creepy while Rachel McAdamsâ€™ baby blues shine with love and mysteriously undying affection, unearned and bizarrely inexplicable as that devotion may be.
(A side note/rant: Weâ€™re up to our necks in foreigners playing Americans, something of a regular occurrence when it comes to romance on film. Either we Yanks donâ€™t like our fantasies homegrown or perhaps the insistent inclusion of the British Commonwealth incrementally expands the international audience. Whatever the reasons, Aussie Rose Byrne fumbles a bit as an utterly unconvincing New York Jewess named Beth opposite always adorable Brit Hugh Dancy who plays the Aspergerâ€™s afflicted Adam with a wide-eyed, slack-jawed and only slightly bogus earnestness. Aussie hunk Eric Bana scores as genetic anomaly Time Traveler midwesterner Henry while as his wife, Canadian Rachel McAdams manages a reasonably convincing (if geographically vague) Chicago WASP-y rich girl. Like Gerard Butler in â€œThe Ugly Truth â€ and Kate Winslet in â€œRevolutionary Road,â€ they all affect flat and frustratingly unspecific American accents, rendering them a tad generic, creepy and alien. Iâ€™m sure critical denizens of the UK experience similar difficulties with RenÃ©e Zellweger (Bridget Jones) and Michelle Pfeiffer among many others. This accent stuff isnâ€™t for sissies; one wonders why romantic leads canâ€™t hail from their countries of origin and skip this pseudo-Middle Atlantic guff altogether.)
(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 Allenâ€™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… […]
Once again, Hollywood perpetrates a hate crime against humanity and romance disguised as harmless piffle. â€œThe Ugly Truth,â€ yet another bright-and-shiny anti-romantic comedy, flounces into our midst, full of makeovers and double entendres, movie stars and other clichÃ©s that might fool you into thinking itâ€™s enjoyable. Perhaps Iâ€™m getting crabby after so many dollars have been picked from my metaphorical pockets by this Godforsaken genre, but itâ€™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.
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?