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Showing posts from November, 2011

Like Crazy

"What are we gonna do after we graduate?" Well, yes. Welcome, young lovers, to the first in an increasingly challenging set of existential conundrums, as you leave the anything-is-still-possible world of college and set out into the rather more limiting world beyond. The beneath the covers question is posed by Jacob (Anton Yelchin) to his British girlfriend Anna (Felicity Jones), as the two face each other in bed, a blanket thrown over them like a common skin, prime bits of their actual young flesh visible and hinted at.
Like Crazy suggests the intoxication of young love but concerns itself mainly with the sobering impediments to romance that fill the adult world like so much bulky, ill-placed furniture with which one collides in the night.  Young Jacob is actually a designer of furniture.  His first major present to Anna is a wooden writing chair which bears an inscription on its seat bottom from which the film's title is drawn.  The two meet in a college class taken…

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life

Some twenty years after his death, it's still difficult to separate Serge Gainsbourg's outsize public persona from his music.  Even casual fans, be they real or the precocious protagonists of films like Youth and Revolt and the recent Submarine, tend to use the playing of Gainsbourg tunes, their conspicuous appreciation of the  chain-smoking Frenchman, as shortcuts to cool.  Such fans, who might enjoy a spin of pop classics like "Bonnie and Clyde" or "Ford Mustang," probably don't realize the breadth of Gainsbourg's musical output.  Starting within the fairly polite parameters of the French chanson - a tradition that he didn't take for a spin on the dance floor so much as hustle out into a dark, rain-glistening alley and have his way with -  the man born Lucien Ginsburg went on to compose some of the pop/rock tunes for which he is best known, to work in jazz, calypso, funk, reggae, electronica and seemingly every genre known to man.  This in add…

Young Adult

"Low hanging fruit," complains Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) to visiting home town girl - or visiting "psychotic prom queen bitch," depending on your point of view - Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), as the two go about their sparring, if not unlikely friendship in Young Adult, the second collaboration of director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody.   This after their wildly successful Juno in 2007.

Mavis, going through something of a pre-midlife crisis, has returned to her old stomping grounds of Mercury, Minnesota to reclaim former boyfriend Buddy Slade.  Never mind that Buddy is by all accounts a happily married man, or that his first child has recently appeared on the scene.  In fact, it's the arrival of her old flame's baby, whose picture Mavis retrieves from her e-mail in box one day during a bout of writerly procrastination that ultimately inspires Mavis to jump in her Mini Cooper and speed out of Minneapolis in favor of her hometown, a place Mavis r…

Martha Marcy May Marlene

"How far are we?"
"From what?"

That exchange between sisters Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) and Lucy (Sarah Paulson) determines that the former is one day and some 300 miles removed from the place she fled, somewhere in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.  Martha's story to Lucy is that she has left a boyfriend who lied to her, after disappearing from contact for nearly two years.  The truth is that she has left what can safely be described as a cult, much as the effects on her psyche have come along for the ride and will continue to make themselves known during a troubled stay at the vacation home of Lucy and her architect husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy).

One of many strengths of Martha Marcy May Marlene, a memorable first feature from writer/director Sean Durkin, is how un-cult-like the rural farm of Patrick (John Hawkes) and his followers is at first look made to seem, just as benevolent and accepting as it might to any new recruit or l…