John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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It's extraordinarily embarrassing to admit that I have seen this film up to twenty times and that I laugh and get drawn into the stupid, nonsensical love triangle every single time. This is a very confused film as it appears to be both mocking it's self-absorbed characters but also claiming that Gen-Xers have problems that don't stem from the silly actions of the people in this film. Social issues of the day get only a perfunctory nod and the lack of attention to the two supporting characters is glaring as their arcs get completely rushed. Those are my criticisms of the film and yet I love it, no it's not a well made or focused film and yes it's annoying but it's weirdly relatable and there are parts of it that make me aspire to be like them so from here on out it's all praise.
Lelaina Pierce, Winona Ryder, is a young documentary filmmaker, recent university graduate and writer for a talk show. She ends up living with her close friend and GAP employee Vicky, Janeane Garofalo, in addition to her ex-flame with whom she has clear sexual tension Troy, Ethan Hawke. She begins dating Michael Grates, Ben Stiller, after crashing into his car and his lifestyle comes into conflict with that of her friends. A love triangle ensues and it's no surprise who she ends up with but along the way we get discussion of issues that were contemporary in 1994 like divorce and the difficulty of finding a job.
The screenplay feels like a mix between a Noah Baumbach and Marc Silverstein/Abby Kohn script with plenty of zany one-liners stuffed with cultural references and a lack of real plot direction. All of the characters get moments to shine, Troy has a philosophical monologue about quarter pounders with cheese whilst Vicky complains about being responsible for shirts. It keeps things fun and light even while the references might not be as smart as they think they are and Good Times episodes may not be as relevant to the twenty-somethings today as they were to those of the 90s. It's nice to have a window into a certain subset of the youth culture in the 90s and to understand what a strange amalgamation of people thought was â~cool', Schoolhouse Rock and the Violent Femmes clearly.
This is an odd note but Emmanuel Lubezki, responsible for the beautiful visuals of The New World (2005) and The Tree of Life (2011), did the cinematography for this film and it looks great. All of the characters wear bright clothing and Ryder's face is always shot luminously, a trick used in many of her other films, somehow this endears me to them. All of their surroundings look very mundane and normal, much like how I imagine 1994 Houston really looked and felt and that's nice, it certainly feels more genuine than St. Elmo's Fire (1985). Vicky in particular looks incredible throughout the film as Garofalo is shot very flatteringly, just something I liked seeing.
Finally, god help me I swooned during this film and oh, it may have been the fact I had just watched Before Sunrise (1995) but I found Troy dreamy despite all of his flaws. I suspect that many other woman would have and still do as men like this exist in the real world, devastatingly handsome but going nowhere, and in some ways it is gratifying to see Lelaina make the stupid decision and pick the guy she clearly has no real future with. The scenes in which their â~sexual tension' is most on display did get me hot under the collar. It's absolutely ridiculous pretending like these two aren't going to jump each other's bones, the â~love' scene is appropriately soft, but it's mighty pleasant to watch the two of them try to deny their clear attraction. I only wish that these sort of films were around today so that I could have my very own version of Reality Bites, fingers crossed the TV series is good.
You'll already know from seeing the poster whether the film is for you, if you love it like I do it comes with certain reservations but if you're willing to stomach the films obvious flaws it has a lot of charm.
A poignant drama and romance about expectations.
Ben Stiller's indie coming of age drama and comedy Reality Bites (1994) is a down to Earth look about our expectations versus our reality for youth meeting adulthood. It features a hard hitting message about growing up and finding yourself and the people you care about in a hectic world.
Helen Childress' script is phenomenally written. The grounded and realistic approach she takes in her writing feels so sincere. Her commentary about jobs, love, poverty, education, friendship, romance, AIDS, homosexuality, television, maturation, and happiness are profound and moving. The wit and humor in her script is also hilarious, but in a unique and fresh way. Her phrasing is so fun and unexpectedly random.
Ben Stiller's direction is pretty impressive with a great long take of Winona Ryder walking out on him after he butchered her character's documentary to Stiller taking to the time to use still shots of characters interacting in a very real way. I love how innovative the edits are, while Stiller's direction keeps you invested in the characters and their feeling through his intimate style and close-up approach.
Winona Ryder is outstanding as Lelaina Pierce. Her frustrated artistic inclinations and devastated career expectations are really relatable as is her conflicted romantic interests. Winona Ryder is a wonderful actress and captures the free spirit of youth, the passionate love of a genuine person, and the upset indignation of someone hurting. Her chemistry with Ethan Hawke is palpable and she works dramatic wonders on screen with him.
Speaking of Ethan Hawke, his portrayal of Troy Dyer in Reality Bites is one of cinema's most genuine characters. Hawke cuts through his character's initial idiocy, cruelty, and nonchalance with a heavy dose of heartfelt acting. His comedic delivery is hilarious, but I adored Hawke's romantic and realistic approach to his dramatic moments alongside Winona Ryder. They certainly gave us one of cinema's greatest couples as they feel like any two teenagers that could actually exist.
Ben Stiller is great as the stuffy, inane, producer that desperately wants love. His depiction of a man willing to bend over backwards for a woman, while still completely misses the point and her perspective feels so accurate. Stiller nails the self serving perspective of Stiller's character. I am really impressed Stiller acted so well, while simultaneously directing Reality Bites with such a sure and steady hand.
I have to mention the endearing and touching supporting actress performance from Janeane Garofalo as Vickie Miner. Her hedonistic and cavalier ways give way to her afraid and lonely character's inner struggles. Her character is just trying to get by and that is all right.
I really loved Steve Zahn in Reality Bites as Sammy Gray seeing as how he only gets a few lines in and a few faces, but they are all memorable, nuanced, and play the character with a realism I appreciated.
Reality Bites is Ben Stiller's ode to the disenfranchised and I adored it.
Hard And Simple.
Stiller's hip and happening love track for the younger audience is mature on projecting the hardcore truth of a 20s lifestyle where the troubles are dug up if they don't exist. From practically fumbling and often cheesy conversation to a gripping screenplay, Helen Childress, the writer oozes a slick style for a larger appeal. But if there is your usual hokum of a love triangle, then there is also genuine warmth and familiarity that Leliana (Winona Ryder) goes through for her career searching for an opportunity wolfishly, that gives an unexpected and required depth to this storyline.
There is also a sense of urgency in, the director, Ben Stiller's lexicon to present the 20s mindset which is often quick and comes with less effort. Winona Ryder in the lead steals all the charm, she literally snatches it away from others, even when Ethan Hawke recites a whistle blowing and heart swooning one liners, her eyes staring him seeking for innocence, speaks more than he is allowed to. But mind you, it doesn't suggest in any way, that Hawke is just going to sit by, he has a bigger hand and so what if it is flawed, it gives him a three dimensional perspective.
And between these love birds, Stiller comes in from a mechanical world where rules are everything and art often forgotten, and with his performance you can easily see that, he doesn't hold back on expressing his "sorry"(s). In its final act, after Stiller has got you in his beautiful web of lies, the way he juggles these characters and our emotions, it definitely lives up to the hype when the last act lives up to its "climactic" title. Reality Bites, yes, but there is still enough chocolate for us to share with others and cherish it with a broad plastered smile.
The best romance movie ever made!
Though this was a generation defining flick back in the early 90's, I honestly never got around watching it. So having some idle time at home the past few days had me rifling through listings of "movies to see before you die" and this came up several times in some of them. Winona was quite the angelic darling and Ethan (with that hair) was undeniably crush material. I was thrown off by the excessive smoking. Again, that may be because of the generation when this was originally made when smoking was "cool". Nevertheless, it is one of those movies that aged quite well, unlike Clueless.
Reality Bites, with its talkative and somewhat annoying characters, is still an effective 90's throwback and a passable romantic comedy. Some characters don't end up getting what they deserve in the end, wether it be good or bad. But it's hard to hate any of the three main actors of Reality Bites, and by the end, it wins you over with its cheesy dialogue and half-baked jokes, and honestly it's a lot of fun. It's not extremely investing to watch and you won't be thinking about it for a super long time, but in the short-term, it's a good feature from Stiller and another decent movie from Winona Ryder.
Reviewed 2.16.18. Interesting how a caricature can morph into a time capsule. And funny how in 1993, studio's believed that Generation X would never watch a movie about themselves. Of course they would, Gen X simply wanted authenticity. Mercifully, Reality Bites was actually written by someone in their early 20's (Helen Childress) and directed by a twenty-something Ben Stiller (his debut behind the camera). The result is grunge-lite, a surface level inspection of early 90's ennui. It succeeds in capturing important generational flash points, like the cloud of a yet untreatable AIDS epidemic, the still stigmatized choice to 'come out,' and the self-loathing of a generation born from the parental abyss known as Baby Boomers. What it lacks in grit, it counters with charm. The over-sized clothes may be gone, but youthful love will never die. And neither will hipster cynicism. Which is why as long as reality bites, this movie will have its place in any time. On a side note, choosing to mine the 70's nostalgia vibe over the fertile music scene of that moment was a weak choice. Then again, its sister movie 'Singles' proved that a strong soundtrack doesn't equal a better Gen-X movie.
Gotta give it credit for being an early part of a new genre. Some of the acting and chemistry is A+. Watching it with my friends who are in the same age group now --- we're all feeling reality biting a lot harder than this. And most of us were rooting for Ben Stiller.
I like this movie a lot. Yeah I know that its kind of a doushy hipster comedy for the 90's but I still really like it. So many funny scenes. Plus Winona Ryder who is so hot. Big crush on her when I was younger.