Category Archives: Chick Flick/ Rom Com

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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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

Visit Scarecrow Video!

Scarecrow Video, just off of Roosevelt & 50th in the U District in Seattle has EVERY title! Ask any one of the employees as you walk in for any new release, genre, director, obscure indie or international title and their degree in film studies will register beneath the lenses, and a pointer finger will raise to the exact location of that movie. Beware. When I say EVERY movie…I mean it. Many are not for young eyes…or mine. But go.

If you remember seeing The Hunt for Red October on an old gigantic lazer disc and you’ve ever wanted to relive that experience, you can rent players there. Even VHS players (what are those, right?), and projectors for that backyard film fest. Remember that one that you saw with your mom on Turner Classics when you were little that just haunts you? They’ve got it. What’s that one Wes Anderson movie? It’s there, and they know.

So, go! Visit Scarecrow Video and support a local legend. If you have out of town guests coming in, show them Seattle and take them to Scarecrow. Let them pick the movie or take them to the Italian film section and rent Life is Beautiful for a lovely and memorable evening.  Say Hi to Kevin for me while you’re there. Shake his hand. He’s a good man.

I heart Scarecrow Video!

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Filed under Action, Animated, Chick Flick/ Rom Com, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, Fantasy, Historical Drama, Horror, Musical, Sci Fi, Thriller, Uncategorized, Western

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011)

I spent the loveliest week in Paris this afternoon. No, I know, I have always wanted to go there. It was perfect – just as I’d imagined it. Who? Oh, I was there with some of my favorites like Owen Wilson, Michael Sheen (no relation to Charlie, no), Woody Allen, and Adrien Brody.

T.S. Eliot, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and a few of their artistic companions joined us, Matisse, Dali, Degas, Gauguin & Picasso to name a few.

Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, & even Alison Pill & Kathy Bates were there.

 

We all swooned and danced to Cole Porters tunes and fell in love under the same sparkling pink lights lining the Seine.

I shall always agree with Gertrude Stein who said, “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.”

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WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (2011)


I’m reminded of an interview I once saw with Tom Hanks who for some reason was talking about his favorite Elvis movie called “Roustabout.” In his very Tom Hanks style he quoted both Elvis and Barbara Stanwick, first uttering like the guttural girl, “This is not a circus, it’s a carnival and don’t you forget it!” Then lifting the corner of his upper lip, “So a uh, a carnival has like a ferris wheel and a circus has, like elephants?” Well, I’d love to have seen this circus flick with Mr. Hanks, even though the actors would be less mimicable. Robert Pattinson, ironically called Jacob in this film, actually acts. He reacts as only a hero could – for the right despite the consequences. His performance reminded me of Keanu Reeves in his true chick flick A Walk in the Clouds. Not terribly dimensional, but likeable and kindred. Reese Witherspoon hasn’t aged. I read once that she insists on sleeping 10 to 12 hours per night, and that it’s her secret to success and happiness, and youth, and physical beauty. Nah. Really? Nah.

This is a movie movie, for entertainment alone. No hidden symbolism. Just straightforward plot moved by characters on a train who hate then love each other, who learn from one another, and who fight to survive despite the ringleader’s cruelty. Triumphs and tragedies, loyalties and love affairs, the inner ring of circus life.

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YOU AGAIN

Hot at a redbox near you…did this one miss the theaters?

I’ll tell you. It’s something like Freaky Friday meets Avatar meets High School Musical.

No. It’s an episode of Smallville meets almost any Sandra Bullock film.

No. It’s…it’s…

Did I ever tell you why I can’t stand home movies. Yes, all home movies. Of friends, of relatives, yep, even of myself. Especially the funniest home video shows. It’s because they drag on forever without a plot, or a truly funny moment, and they move so slowly that you have time to mentally configure 100 ways that the moment could have been better. Yeah, that’s You Again.

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