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hunterjt13
Jim Hunter 2 years ago

"What the fuck?" My response exactly. I hope they don't get too Gestapo about profanity; after all, we're not the only Super Reviewers who curse, and many of our reviews are rock awesome - your latest of Driver a prime example. (If I buy you Carey Mulligan's face for your birthday, will you send pictures?)
Once is pretty short, and if you're really pressed for time, you can fast forward through some of the repeated songs.

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Obvious Child

Obvious Child

(2014)
28 days ago via Flixster

Tour de force performance from Jenny Slate. She may be the nasally Jewish princess on "Parks & Recreation" and the baby-cute Marcel the Shell, but girl's got range. Slate carries this movie as Donna, a stand-up comedienne who gets pregnant from a one-night stand and decides to have an abortion. Her stand-up is raunchy but candid, her vulnerability is quirky yet tragic, and her "flustration" is sweetly abashed. A cast of adorable supporting characters also lends this quarter-life crisis movie a dash of light optimism.

What's also great about this story is that it's truly unpredictable. Is she going to get the abortion? Is she going to fall in love with this new vanilla bean beau? Some viewers might think Max is unrealistic - too understanding and too patient - but Max and Donna clearly have great chemistry. He likes her; he's not just there to further her story. Everything that needs to happen happens, but none of it is too cooked.

Begin Again

Begin Again

(2014)
28 days ago via Flixster

Rather delightful. The theme of the power of music on love and friendship is more substantial in this film than in John Carney's "Once," which was more a series of amateur music videos. A pastiche of down-and-out musicians make a guerrilla album on the streets of NYC. Lovers break up over the temptations of music industry fame. Estranged father and daughter bond. Former lovers reach a cathartic goodbye that is neither too sad nor too happy.

I really enjoy the first date idea of walking while listening to each other's favorite songs, but Gretta's guilty pleasures of "Luck Be a Lady" and "As Time Goes By" are such cliché beloved classics. Also, Miriam's assessment of her teen daughter Violet's risqué clothing choices as her own is at least empowering and fair at first, but that gets stripped away later when Gretta plays big sister and subtly slut shames Violet. Hailee Steinfeld's smoker-voiced loner girl seemed complex, so I was hoping Violet would be a bit more self-possessed.

And of course, it has long pained me to admit that in the past five years, I've grown to prefer Keira Knightley over her doppelganger Natalie Portman, but maybe I just have to own the pleasure of enjoying Keira in her willowy hipster chic roles. She's quite normal-girl charming again. Her singing voice is a bit weak - not quite as old-school robust as in "Edge of Love" - but it's light and sweet enough for the indie folk genre.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

A Million Ways to Die in the West

(2014)
28 days ago via Flixster

Seth MacFarlane is a versatile seriocomedic actor with a delicious basso voice, and Charlize Theron is a hip chick with surprisingly great deadpan timing. He can sing; she can dance. Is there anything they can't do? The anachronistic quips about life in the Old West are funny, and the commentary on Beta Male cowardice has a redeeming resolution, but on the whole, the plot is a bit forgettable. I was also hoping Amanda Seyfried would channel her Karen daffiness from "Mean Girls" to make Louise a more compelling ex-girlfriend character.

The Witches of Eastwick

The Witches of Eastwick

(1987)
55 days ago via Flixster

Three headstrong single women in idyllic Eastwick wish for their dream beaux, and a devilish new stranger comes to town to seduce them in turn. Cher, Sarandon, and Pfeiffer are brassy, sensual, and sweet, respectively, and Jack Nicholson is the epitome of the diabolical wag.

Daryl van Horne spouts some base misogyny, which has the potential to be clever and satirical if only there were some wink at the audience. The trio of women gets their revenge through sorcery, but they still raise Daryl's lovechildren and treat him as merely an exasperating, absentee father rather than quashing his sacrilegious doctrine, defeating him for good, or at least spurning him for the Satan proxy he is.

Upon learning that this movie was adapted from a novel by John Updike, a writer I admire, I expected the hijinx to lead to something deeper. Is Daryl a Satan proxy or a God proxy? Daryl rants about how he gave the girls everything, and then when they forsake him, he will seek retribution. Isn't that the depiction of a vengeful and wrathful God? Is the satire on how often godliness and wickedness coincide? Well, apparently the original novel was intended as a feminist manifesto (even though the women are represented as actual witches), but there isn't much in the way of theological commentary, so I don't know what to make of book or film.

The Way We Were

The Way We Were

(1973)
56 days ago via Flixster

This movie starts out with heated sociopolitical debate and a great feminist role model, but then brassy, independent Katie devolves into Overly Attached Girlfriend - fawning over Hubbell, the poor little rich boy with a streak of writing talent, who buys her a beer and patronizingly ties her freakin' shoe? (I hate all shoe-tying imagery in art! I hate it when looks-so-much-like-his-dead-mother Ginny does it to Harry Potter. I hate it when Ted does it to baby-talking Boats-Boats-Boats Becky on HIMYM. I surprisingly don't mind glass slipper symbology because it's quick, okay? You just slip it on. "It's the condom of our generation." Tying a shoe is a ham-handed, Oedipal commitment of a romantic gesture.)

Anyway, Katie essentially rapes him and ropes him into falling in love with her, but she's made to apologize so much for her tempestuousness and "wrong style" while Robert Redford's dead eyes glaze over in a masquerade of privileged, white, liberal ennui.

The flashback structure of the film's beginning is also wasted. I thought YEARS had gone by before they meet again and that the whole movie would be about their college relationship and "the way they were"... The movie gets so episodic after that inciting incident, documenting every bit of grueling conflict contributing to their doomed partnership.

A donnee or redemption moment nearly appears when Katie shouts, "You'll never find anyone as good for you as I am, to believe in you as much as I do or to love you as much!" but it's too late. They're still wrong for each other, but we're never given a convincing enough reason in the script or the performances for why they got together in the first place and why they stayed together for so long. And he never meets their daughter? Weird.

Highlight is Barbra Streisand's soaring mezzo-soprano in Marvin Hamlisch's titular song.

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