Drake Doremus’s ‘Like Crazy’ (2011)

This film had so much going for itself-especially when I first saw the trailer a few years ago, I felt like this was going to be a feel-good, beautiful love story that would become an instant favorite. Well, watching it for the first time this morning, only a quarter of those descriptions came true. It wasn’t feel-good. It was beautiful. It wasn’t a great love story. It wasn’t a favorite….at all. anton-yelchin-felicity-jones-like-crazy-image-10-600x337 This film focuses on the lives of two young adults who have extremely complicated feelings. The beginning starts out with their blissful happiness- everything is right in the world, and they’re adorable with their lovey doveyness. A sequence of scenes between Anna (Felicity Jones) and Jacob (Anton Yelchin) made my heart melt, and it was easy to see their love growing. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Anna and Jacob with her parents (played by Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead)-it was lighthearted and fun to watch. Once the conflict started, my feelings for this film seemed to spiral down to a huge pile of mud.
I understand that love isn’t perfect and that not all films have happy endings. What went wrong for me was my growing disliking for the characters. They became selfish, and I questioned whether they were in love or just being greedy. New people entered their lives during their separation, and these new characters, especially Samantha (Jennifer Lawrence), made me root against the “love” they used to have for each other. Maybe I just didn’t get the connection between the main characters, or maybe I wasn’t being open-minded enough, but I cringed when they wanted to get back together. It just didn’t seem right, and I didn’t like the story development. I understood why Anna didn’t want to be with her new beau (played by Charlie Bewley), sure, he was hotter, but he was a…trying to find the right word…douche-bag? Yeah, seems right. But Jacob was kind of a douche bag, too. It’s hard for me to connect with a film when I can’t connect with the characters. I thought Jones’s character was charming and likable, but she made way too many stupid decisions for me to really root for her. There’s a line in true love. There’s being caring on one side, and there’s being clingy on the other. It was tragic how these characters chose to be clingy, because if they had really cared for each other they wouldn’t have gotten in that mess in the first place. *sigh*

“I thought I understood it, that I could grasp it, but I didn’t, not really. Only the smudgeness of it; the pink-slippered, all-containered, semi-precious eagerness of it. I didn’t realize it would sometimes be more than whole, that the wholeness was a rather luxurious idea. Because it’s the halves that halve you in half. I didn’t know, don’t know, about the in-between bits; the gory bits of you, and the gory bits of me.” – Like Crazy (2011)

Pros:

  • Loved the score by Dustin O’ Holloran
  • Beautiful, refreshing cinematography
  • Liked the performances
  • Enjoyed the improvised interactions

Cons:

  • Disliked main characters-no connection
  • Unimpressed by Anton Yelchin
  • Wasn’t sold on their ‘love’
  • Annoyed and disappointed by the story development

Overall Rating: 5/10

The Coen Brothers’ ‘Fargo’ (1996)

I had no idea what to expect from this film. I’ve seen little tiny bits of it here and there, but never got any sort of impression by it. So, on this snowy day, I decided to once again curl up in my blankets to see what it was all about.

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The film opens up to introduce its first character, Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy). How can I accurately describe Jerry? Well…he’s an average Minnesota guy, yah? I really don’t know what the ‘average Minnesota guy’ is like, but Jerry is basically a desperate white-collared father who gets my attention by being so simple-minded. In the first five minutes, we get to meet the brilliance of Steve Buscemi’s character, Carl Showalter, and the emotionally complex accomplice (or is it the other way around?) Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare). These two were the comic relief for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed their banter. They kind of reminded me of Penn and Teller (Penn being  Buscemi’s character and Teller being Stormare’s character), but their relationship with each other isn’t as close, nor are they magicians…anyway, I digress. I am currently applauding Steve Buscemi-I absolutely loved his character. This was one of my favorite quotes from the film, because it really shows the more vulnerable side of his personality:

“Would it… kill you to say something? “No.” That’s the first thing you’ve said in the last four hours. That’s a… that’s fountain of conversation, man. That’s a geyser. I mean, whoa daddy! Stand back, man. Shit. I’m sitting here driving. Doing all the driving, man. The whole fucking way from Brainard driving. Just trying to… chat, you know. Keep our spirits up, fight the boredom of the road, and you can’t say one fucking thing just in the way of conversation. Oh fuck it. I don’t have to talk to you either, man. See how you like it. Just total fucking silence. Two can play at that game, smart guy. We’ll just see how you like it. Total silence.” – Fargo (1996)

My favorite aspect of this film would have to be Marge Gunderson. She is the glue that puts this film together, and without her I don’t think this film would have been as thought-provoking. This is how I saw it. Her pregnancy and her reconnection with Mike Yanagita (Steve Park), both of which seemed to have no relation to the film whatsoever at first, actually add a lot of meaning to the film. Marge was 7 months pregnant when everything unfolded. Her pregnancy emphasizes her unique feminine role in the film. She comes off so polite and caring, but she kicks ass at the same time and I admire this character for that. It was interesting how none of the other characters acknowledged the fact that she was pregnant, so I’m wondering if that made any difference in how Lundegaard or Grimsrud interacted with her. One of the more important themes from this movie most likely comes from the fact that out of all of the main characters, she was the only one who embraced life instead of money.

“So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here you are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well, I just don’t understand it.” – Fargo (1996)

My first impression of Mike Yanagita: “Why the hell is he even in this movie?” Well, after careful thought, it’s not Mike Yanagita’s psyche we should care about, but Marge’s. Before meeting with Mike, Marge was naive about people. She answered that phone call at 11:30 pm and met with this guy without any second thoughts. I know she’s a cop and all, but really? Well, after meeting with Mike and hearing that he had lied about everything he told her, her views had changed about people. She started to understand that people aren’t always going to be completely honest or cooperative, even with a pregnant woman. This is most likely why during that second visit with Lundegaard, she came to her senses.
Was this my favorite movie in the world? No. Was it awesomely gory? No.  I will say that it left me wondering, but it also left me satisfied, and that’s a good thing.

Pros:

  • The dark comedy/crime mixed plot
  • Steve Buscemi-hilarious
  • The character of Marge Gunderson is compelling
  • The music score
  • The accents (Yah)
  • I enjoyed each character’s (even Jerry’s) involvement with the film

Cons:

  • Why would you say this is a true story when it’s not? (Oh, Coen brothers…)
  • Never really explained how Jerry’s wife was killed-I need closure!
  • Not a movie I’d see again

Overall Rating: 7/10

John Hillcoat’s ‘The Road’ (2009)

Naturally, I was flipping through Netflix under the “Thrillers” to see if there was anything new that I could watch when I was pleasantly surprised to see The Road show up. I’ve been wanting to see this ever since I read the book a few years ago, and possibly because I found out Viggo Mortensen  starred in it (I have a thing for Aragorn).  Instantly, I press play and cuddle up in some blankets.
Not my best idea.
I am sad to say that I fell asleep for approximately 30 minutes worth of the movie. BUT, let me defend the film a little here-it’s a Monday and I’ve been trying to get over a migraine hangover.
With that in mind, let me dive into my first film review.

Man and Boy face the world's destruction

The film opens with sequences bursting with life and nature. Bright, sunny days with beautiful trees and flowers- it felt nostalgic. Then, a sudden transition into the post-apocalyptic world: lifeless and grey. Throughout, the film does a wonderful job contrasting the pre-apocalypse/post-apocalypse, and instead of focusing on the fact that the world was coming to an end, the focus was on how Man and Boy survived in the post-apocalyptic world. This storyline stayed true to what I remember from the book, which I appreciate. This is what makes The Road different from other apocalypse movies-it focuses on survival in a helpless situation. It’s not necessarily ‘intense’, which is what you would expect- instead, it’s just so heartbreaking.
Man (Mortensen) and Boy (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) had character developments that were endearing and powerful in the film. The relationship between father and son showed elements that forced me to laugh, smile, furrow my eyebrows, and shed many tears. Even with the little scenes that Woman (Charlize Theron) had, I was impressed by how much storyline I had gotten out from them, and from those scenes the relationship between Man and Boy became even more complex and genuine.
No, we didn’t get to see cannibals in action. We didn’t get to see what catastrophic event made the ‘bright light’ end nature as we know it. The Road is a film that centers around the journey that a father and his son struggle through in order to survive in the dying world. It’s about a father teaching his son how to grow up to be a man in his post-apocalypse generation. This film is depressing, so I’d say it’s a movie for a cloudy day, but it sure does leave an impression.

“I told the boy when you dream about bad things happening, it means you’re still fighting and you’re still alive. It’s when you start to dream about good things that you should start to worry.” The Road (2009)

Pros:

  • The cast (Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce)
  • Character development/chemistry between main characters
  • Visually compelling (heartbreaking scenes of desolation, contrast to pre-apocalypse)
  • Follows the book well
  • The end (boohoo’s)

Cons:

  • Slow at times
  • Not good when you’re having a cheery day
  • Some parts made me say, “Really??” (Why would he leave that amazing hatch?)

Overall rating: 6.5/10