Category Archives: Chick Flick/ Rom Com

MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (2014) movie review

Magic-in-the-Moonlight-Emma-StoneGreetings from beyond the grave… Knock once for yes and twice for no.

Would you call this film one of Woody Allen’s best?

One knock.

magic-in-the-moonlight-colin-firth-emma-stone-600x399We do write ourselves into characters, writing what we know, but don’t you think that the delightful, big-eyed Emma Stone is too many decades the junior to our flawed likable hero Colin Firth?

Two knocks.

True, Allen would have no trouble with the age-old question, so it could be good to note Allen’s perspective walking into this film. I believe that Allen’s accolades, well deserved, should not be withheld in lieu of his life choices. That’s taking personal vendettas too far. He is a brilliant filmmaker and writer. No question. He still pushes boundaries making viewers think. I have great respect for that skill as he puts it to use.

On a similar note, Allen girls rarely resemble Bond girls. Allen’s women are bold, conversational, talented, complex, sometimes quixotic but still intelligent, sexy, and confident.  Allen paints women that women don’t mind watching and can relate to. Emma Stone is no exception. She is exceptional. Wouldn’t you agree?

One knock.

DSCF0410.RAFThis film waxes Gatsby, doesn’t it?

One knock.

Lush 20’s sets, costumes, and lighting: perfect from every feathered hat to draping beaded gown. It’s silver screen smudged hues on golden twilight backdrops transport these modern actors into a golden age of Hollywood. You expect Cary Grant to attend the party and Grace Kelly to step into the scene for a quick visit at any point.

magic_article_story_largeMagic in the Moonlight is a talkie, but the lack of action is rarely felt.  Audience members are allowed somehow to feel equal with the characters on-screen.  Tricked and sung to, questioned and valued.  The actors saunter from one room to another, adjusting bow ties pondering the weather and waxing philosophical. Allen unabashedly tackles common taboo topics like religion and politics. Perhaps like Scorcese whose seeming quest is to find himself redeemable, Allen’s obvious discussion on-screen mirrors this by asking  questions of the afterlife. This film questions the existence of God, mankind’s purpose on the planet, the truth in daily living, and the romance of magic.

Is he perhaps squeezing the brain to make room for the heart?

Three knocks.

Wait – what does that mean? Don’t you know? Okay, spirit from beyond, one final question:

Do you think that since Woody Allen’s last two films took place in France in the 20’s, that we can dare hope for  a trilogy of sorts?

One knock.

Wonderful! Thank you so much, kind spirit, for the interview from beyond. Until next time…

 

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Filed under Chick Flick/ Rom Com, Classic, Comedy, Comfort Film, DramCom, Family friendly

ABOUT TIME (2013) movie review

ImageA conceptual Time Traveler’s Wife,  more Groundhog Day in its repetition, About Time is not the next Notting Hill.

It is a lightweight film about living without regrets. It has perhaps the sweetest voice-over opener I’ve seen with true moments of originality and grace, but the script and story, though not complete “rubbish,” was perhaps a bit “dodgy.” Like a run-on sentence without commas, too many scenes felt too drawn out and annoyingly slow, like a director’s cut.

Sex and the occasionally purposed “F-word” earned it the “R” rating. Both unnecessary and both stealing from what could have made this a keeper of a chick-flick.Image

Rachel McAdams herein only ever plays the sweet dimensionless rather every-woman role with very little personality. Passenger seated in this and many a film, she does allow her leading men to shine in the spotlight. She and Domhnall Gleeson have tangible chemistry.

Fans of Gleeson will no doubt flock. He is known best for his role in the Harry Potter series, but I loved him best for his sweet insecurity in Anna Karenina (2013), his sass in Never Let Me Go (2010), and his quirk in True Grit (2010).  In About Time, he is, as my British friends would say, “so lovely.” Truly, his face alone tells his story.

This film preaches carpe diem, seizing moments of life in the face of grief and powerlessness. We all rush about our days, forgetting to stop and take tea by the seaside, as his family does. Some sprites have the gift of making the mundane special. Even those who could go back and have “do-overs” find that it’s not about fixing the details, but in savoring them.

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Filed under Chick Flick/ Rom Com, Sci Fi, Skip It

THE VOW (2012) movie review

Only an original or neatnik knock-off Nicholas Sparks could tempt us into the theaters wooing us like a candyman into the heart of chick flick central. Does it end well? No. Is it well acted? Not really. Does Channing Tatum take his shirt off? Yes. Yes he does.

So we drive shamelessly to theaters to tempt and tantalize and torment ourselves with lies that one completely selfless, artistic, immutable, soft-spoken, generous, heterosexual, charming, chivalrous, chiseled, constant, all-loving, perfect man exists for each of us off-screen.

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Filed under Chick Flick/ Rom Com, Drama

NEW YEAR’S EVE (2011) movie review

 Gary Marshall whips up his classic… gimmick film.

You saw Valentine’s Day. These two films are sisters…identical twin sisters. Most likely you’ll see New Year’s Eve. You can’t help it. It’s like a car accident – you have to look.

Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters.


Devotion. The director is ever-devoted to his family. All of the Marshalls ever gather on-screen for lousy one-liners with scented candle solidarity.

Never had to have a chaperone, no sir, I’m here to keep my eye on her.

Every Runaway Bride and Princess Diaries extra shows up on some set or another.

Marshall has friends. If Gary Marshall made films like a sub sandwich, they’d be loaded with lettuce – a 20’s word for cash. Every star center stages, sometimes for short moments, but despite duration, there truly are “more celebrities than rehab…” (Admittedly a favorite line.)

Caring, sharing, every little thing that we are wearing.

Forced, familiar, unscripted dialogue. Sad. So sad. Zac Efron in his worst character to date, with a sweet but too-awkward storyline.When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome, she wore the dress and I stayed home…

Ashton Kutcher, charm-smothered and swooning goes from grinch to groupie. Heigel hate-loves Bon Jovi. Sarah Jessica Parker needs then meets a date, and Hilary Swank sweats it out only to give it up. Josh Duhamel pines then finds love lost, while Halle Berry listens then blows kisses. Only Robert Deniro performs flawlessly, even from a prone position.

Lord, help the mister who comes between me and my sister… and Lord help the sister who comes between me and my man.

Everyone loves someone, and everyone banks all guts and glory on the ball drop to incite romance. 

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Filed under Chick Flick/ Rom Com

THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE (2009), in which THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006)

In what is perhaps Anne Hathaway‘s least hateful role yet, we meet yet another Anne-as-commoner who makes it to the top after a much needed make-over. Oh, Anne. Only this year’s queen is not Julie Andrews imparting elegance, it’s Meryl Streep as the Devil herself. Her every syllable and pursed-lipped glare wields stiletto sharp criticism. Andy finds her inner strength and outer beauty and learns how to integrate the two — powerful weapon. This weekend’s paper grading session began with a well-watched Prada and moved flawlessly into its sister documentary September Issue. Anna Wintour is the true woman of the hour,  the Vogue mogul, and the power behind much of the fashion industry today. She has kept the magazine alive by innovatively adding celebrity power. Not the devil, but cutthroat most certainly.

The necessary human angle in the story came from the former model, Grace Coddington, seemingly Wintour’s friend and foe and long time creative director at Vogue.They were hired the same year and work very closely. Somehow one  maintains her strong turtle shell while the other sports her creative bleeding heart on her sleeve. These two works make a powerful and lovely afternoon pairing. And, just as you learn to love the Devil who slowly sheds her shell, so Anna warms with the watching and inevitably becomes more human – almost likable.

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Filed under Chick Flick/ Rom Com, Documentary

CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE (2011)

“We are all fools in love”
Jane Austen

Harry met Sally. Monica married Chandler. Cary Grant finally took Grace Kelly into his arms and outside: fireworks! Inside the curtains flutter and that’s when mothers hit the fast forward button or push the kids out of the living room until she says “Okay, it’s over.” Oh those Thornbirds and the naughty Father de Bricassart. Finally, a film written to go beyond the meticulous tension build to the crescendo’d self-indulgent …make-out scene. I knew there had to be more afterglow post curtain-flutter.

This film banks on the much debated thesis that soul mates exist and must be continually fought for. It is also about choosing wise counselors.

A good mentor is hard to find, and over and over I wondered why no one was listening and speaking into the life of the babysitter who finally takes her cues from the school slut? In awkward parallel, Steve Carell‘s frumpy but faithful leading man allows sexy, sarcastic Gosling (from Notebook to notable) to show him the ropes. And by ropes I mean game-playing, pretending to listen by asking questions that make it look like he cares, blatantly objectifying women, and finally wooing young women to his bed. Gosling wants to help him regain his manliness, but all he makes in this carbon copy attempt is another lonely man. Sex is not a healer. It doesn’t solve the problem. Rather, it sets the house on fire, burning up a marriage when played with outside of the context of loyalty and faithfulness.

Ironically, Gosling’s character is always hungry. Ryan Gosling is a smart actor. He knows to give his characters an outward manifestation of his inward truth, which he finally speaks to Emma Stone in confidence. He’s been trying to buy away his loneliness and emptiness, but can’t . Meaningless sex can’t even fill the void. Shocker.

“My dad’s the better man, and he’s going to win.” Before the too-long 2nd act montage showing easy women on the heels of  both men, I wanted to claim this film. I’d love to write something this funny and serious at the same time. The first hour is truly brilliant – every character says what he or she means with true intention, even tossing the “L” word about freely like a frisbee to a waiting dog. 

All in all, this film proves to be as hilarious and heartbreaking as …well, as love itself.

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Filed under Chick Flick/ Rom Com, Comedy, Drama

THE HELP (2011)

Tonight I crashed a book club party. Donna Reed attire required. So, I darkened the brows and dawned the hornrims, pumps, pearls and hairpiece. This was what I was going for:

Of course I hadn’t even read the book, but I heard they were going to the movie after the meeting. Only once did I feel a bit like Jim from The Office episode when he sits in on Pam’s book club, “Angela? …the Ashes? nope.” This party was amazing, though. The hostess, Meredith, played the movie soundtrack and served foods straight the book, including paprika-less deviled eggs and Chocolate Pie. She decorated, had questions mapped out, and she gave us parting gifts with lines from the book and personalized notes attached. She’s good.

And then, the unexpected: in what I had assumed would indeed be the “sleeper hit of the summer” I found a personal Shawshank. Some may slap my face in blasphemy for that comparison, but the truths of this film should wake us up. Hatred has a million faces, but we don’t expect it mingling with beauty.

Bryce Dallas Howard’s gorgeous Hilly Holbrook, proved the formidable opponent, though an almost comic book antagonist. Emma Stone plays her vital opposite as Skeeter, always wishing for beauty until she finds it within. As Skeeter presses in for the true stories of the ever-present under-appreciated “help” she learns to speak her story as well.

In this film we gain new eyes. Shame on you if you don’t cry. Go on. Let yourself. Life Lessons like these cannot be understood without new eyes.  So, wash out the old ones with tears of new beginnings. Become a human being who cares about the hearts of the hurting -whatever their stations, races, crimes, and conclusions. Love one another as God loves you.

For Aibileen’s motto applies to all: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” And don’t you forget it.

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Filed under Chick Flick/ Rom Com, Historical Drama