REVIEW: Like Crazy

6 03 2012

An indie movie for people that hate indie movies, “Like Crazy” aims for the lowest common denominator at all times by stretching the star-crossed lover formula to the edges of watchability.  Writer/director Drake Doremus really tests his audience’s patience by asking them to sympathize with two characters who spend 90 minutes complaining about a dilemma caused by their own willful negligence of the law.  You would think that only in a fantasy universe do actions not have consequences, but the reality of the film expects to defy the logic of reality.

The entire film hinges on the notion that we are supposed to somehow blame the government for the rift in the relationship of young lovers Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Anna (Felicity Jones) when it is clearly their fault.  Only two morons would really believe that she could just overstay her visa in the United States and not face any ramifications.  Just because they are “in love,” as they see but we don’t, does not mean that immigration officials will simply deny the fact that she broke the law.  I guess such is the independent spirit of upper-class educated hipsters, believing everyone to be below them and thus only there to serve their peculiarities and desires.

Maybe it would be easier to forgive the two idiotic protagonists if they actually had some chemistry; Yelchin and Jones have as much heat as an industrial-strength freezer.  Their relationship begins almost on a whim, continues due mostly to carnal passion, and subsequently fades because an ocean separates them as they are forcibly split by the government.  Tell me where I’m supposed to root for anyone in this story, not to mention the actors make their characters surly, grumpy, and generally unpleasant.  They’re kind of like the grouches you really hope aren’t making your coffee at Starbucks in the morning.

Really, if Doremus wanted the audience to care at all about such stupid characters, he had to give them something to work with.  Instead, he gives us nothing, and it’s all too easy to resist the story and whatever it might have to say about love.  “Like Crazy” had the opportunity to really say something about connectivity and modernity, yet it settles to just be two attractive twenty-somethings moping about having to take responsibility for their actions.  Welcome to adulthood, kids.  C+

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WTLFT: October 2011

28 09 2011

Can I get a collective “WHOOP WHOOP” for my return from the first month of college hiatus? [pause] If any of you all are still out there (doubtful), you can be louder!  So I’ll need you to comment (shameless plug for commenting).

While I’m on my winning streak of humor, I’ll funnel this goodwill into making you read my post about what to look forward to in October.  Reviews will be coming soon for “50/50,” “Drive,” and “Warrior” with hopes that I’ll find time to squeeze in “The Debt,” “Contagion,” and “Moneyball” somehow between classes, homework, and a social life of sorts.

October is my probably my favorite month of the year, not just for the selfish reason that it’s my month of birth.  It’s a great month to be outside; I’m especially excited this year that I will be out of Texas and in a place where I can experience fall and changing seasons.  It’s also a time of changing seasons at your movie theater, out with summer leftovers and slightly dumpy September fare and in with late-year commercial fare and some early awards plays.  Here’s what 2011 has to offer us in the month of October:

October 7

The best of the month may come in its first weekend with “The Ides of March,” a political thriller written, produced, and directed by George Clooney, who also puts in some time in front of the camera.  The real star is Ryan Gosling as a campaign manager torn between opposing sides of a presidential race.  The movie will surely have important and relevant implications for the way that the modern campaign is run and will no doubt be a major player in the Oscar race this year.  Even if it’s just an early check on your best of 2011 laundry list, this has to be a must-see for every cinephile.

Meanwhile, “Real Steel” … yeah, can’t say I have the highest of hopes for that.  “Transformers” already gave me plenty of clanging metal this year.

On the other side of the tracks, there’s Juno Temple in “Dirty Girl,” a story of sexual mores in 1987 Oklahoma.  It stars Juno Temple, who will have a role in “The Dark Knight Rises,” so it may be worthwhile to see just to say you knew who she was before her breakout (if indeed she does do that).

In case you haven’t had enough Jessica Chastain this year between “The Debt,” “The Help,” and “The Tree of Life,” she also appears in “Texas Killing Fields,” which – no offense to the talent involved – looks like one of those C-list movies you’d find on the “just added” section of Netflix streaming between “Tangled” and “The Expendables.”

This weekend also brings a strange extreme with “The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence,” which looks to overcome the sequel slump by presenting a story of life imitating art (if you want to call the gross-out horror film that shocked audiences last year art).  It’s a must for sadists and horror fanatics; others would do best to just stay home.

October 14

This Friday marks my birthday … and Hollywood celebrates by releasing two remakes and a Jack Black comedy.  Mental confetti just splattered the walls of my brain.

“Men of a Certain Age” gets a big-screen adaptation after cancellation – but directed by “The Devil Wears Prada” (I’m actually being serious here) – as two aging Frat Pack comedians and the guy who has hosted “Saturday Night Live” the second most times in history go on a trip to fight their ennui by taking a trip in “The Big Year.”  Wait, maybe this is a remake …

Meanwhile, ’80s nostalgia runs rampant as “Footloose” and “The Thing” both get updated.  Note to bloggers/columnists: the question “Why aren’t the originals sufficient?” has been asked and answered dozens of times before.

Off the mainstream, “Trespass” begs the question of whether or not the Academy can revoke Nicolas Cage’s Oscar.  But on a more positive note, one of my favorite modern directors, Pedro Almodóvar, is back with his latest film, “The Skin I Live In.”  It didn’t get the strongest reviews out of Cannes, but it looks haunting and beautiful.  Plus, I’ll see just about anything he makes.

October 21

I’m legally prohibited from sharing any thoughts on “Martha Marcy May Marlene” until it hits theaters in Houston – but for now, enjoy the trailer.  And if you are really that curious about the movie, listen to “Marcy’s Song,” a tune from John Hawkes that plays briefly at the end.

How many times can we remake “The Three Musketeers?”  I’m calling it now that in 2022, the kids from “Slumdog Millionaire” will star as Athos, Porthos, and whatever Jamal’s final guess was.  Last year’s October release “Secretariat” gets remade for 2011 as “The Mighty Macs,” this time featuring the woman ahead of her time as a college basketball coach.  “Paranormal Activity 3” gets slightly creative as it goes back to the origins of the horror from the original, but it’s still a sell-out.

On the indie circuit, “Margin Call” boasts a quasi-“Contagion” level of prestige but doesn’t seem to be generating much buzz.  I guess that post-“Inside Job” and “Too Big to Fail,” recession backstories may be old and tired.

October 28

One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing about amazing movies that play at Sundance in January and then having to wait to see them until the end of the year.  Hopefully my patience will be rewarded with “Like Crazy,” the movie that everyone emerged from the festival talking about.  Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin are two hot talents rising in the industry; hopefully this catches on with the mainstream and helps their careers skyrocket.

“In Time” could be an interesting mix of high-octane popcorn blockbuster and political allegory … or the trailer just gave off false notions.  I’ll have to hover over this one for a little while before deciding what my schedule for seeing it is.

The director of “2012” and “Independence Day” is making a movie with Oscar buzz?!  In what world do we live now?  Might as well check out “Anonymous” … apparently Rhys Ifan’s performance is startlingly good.

I wasn’t a big fan of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” but “The Rum Diary” just looks like Hunter S. Thompson light.  Even with Johnny Depp back, this doesn’t look like it can drum up a lot of enthusiasm.  Speaking of not drumming up a lot of enthusiasm, how about “Johnny English Reborn?”  Waiting 8 years between installments doesn’t do you a lot of good when the original didn’t do particularly well.

So, are you more excited that I’m back burning up the blogosphere or that October is coming soon?  Take the poll, leave a comment, do whatever – but make your voice heard!





Random Factoid #552

31 01 2011

Today in my English class, we talked about how the system of moviegoing we have in place skewers our opinions of what we watch (as a branch of another conversation).  The perfect example given by one of my classmates was Oscar season: now, you don’t go see “The King’s Speech,” you go see the critically-acclaimed Oscar nominated “The King’s Speech.”  These are two entirely different beasts, and the expectations are skewered entirely.  The experiences completely changes as you watch a movie to check off boxes of approval, not just watching to watch.

That got me thinking: is it possible to see a movie without expectations?  To have the pure experience of moviegoing in our hands?

The closest thing I could think of was film festivals.  Even if we haven’t heard a review of a movie, we make assumptions based on the genre, the stars, the director, the trailer, and even other advertisements.  But at a film festival like Sundance, people just walk into movies with little to no idea what they will see.  And what we get are the best indicators of a movie’s actual worth.  (Judging by reactions, “Like Crazy” is great.  No one had ever heard of Felicity Jones before the movie, and based on the performance alone, she has been lauded … well, like crazy.)

I’d love to attend a film festival like Sundance or South by Southwest (Cannes and Venice are way out of my price range) simply to have this experience of unadulterated moviewatching.  I want to watch a movie to watch a movie, not fill out an approval ballot in my head.  I don’t think we were destined to watch movies like this – thanks a lot, mass media.