Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Love and Other Drugs

Today I saw Love and Other Drugs, starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Maggie (Hathaway) is a 26-year-old artist suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Jamie (Gyllenhaal) is a pharmaceutical salesman, peddling antidepressants who meets her one day as she's getting her breast examined. Seriously.

They banter back and forth about why he shouldn't have been in her exam room (he really shouldn't have) then consummate their attraction after their second encounter (this time, a coffee shop).

The sex is so good that both partners, who are anti-relationship, begin to crave more from one another. This scares Maggie, who doesn't want to tether anyone into being her caretaker for the rest of time, so she pushes Jamie away.

The two lead actors are phenomenal and share a very believable chemistry. Watching them become these two characters (forgetting they played a married couple in 2005's Brokeback Mountain) isn't remotely boring, and their spicy scenes keep us paying attention, if only for the skin.

What's wrong with the movie is everything else: the 'rich' brother that for some reason has to crash on Jamie's couch when his marriage falls apart; the waste of Hank Azaria (as a slimy doctor) and Oliver Platt (as a slimy salesman); the script discrepancies that throw us from a slapstick comedy to a depressing drama without warning.

I went into the theater thankful that this wouldn't be just another chick flick and came out disappointed that the result was almost worse.

At least Hathaway wasn't the only one who had to take off her clothes.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Today I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.

This movie was exactly what I expected—a faithful re-telling of the not-so-exciting portions of the final book in the Harry Potter series, sprinkled with enough charm to keep things interesting.

When this section of the story begins, Harry (Radcliffe) is by tradition leaving his aunt and uncle's house. Each book began this way with the young wizard heading off to Hogwarts for another year of school, but this final one has a twist: Harry is instead escaping to a safe house to elude the ever-so-evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).

In the first chuckle-worthy scene in the film, a spell is cast on several of Harry's friends who have agreed to be turned into a replica of his likeness to throw the death eaters off the scent. Radcliffe shines, taking on the mannerisms of most of them while remaining in his own 'skin.'

Of course, he does survive this stunt, but that set-up launches the audience into over two hours of provoking, then escaping, only to provoke again.

Harry is naturally accompanied into this war by his two best friends, Hermione (Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), who are preoccupied with their own chemistry, yet loyal to a fault.

It's difficult to squeeze even half of a book into a full-length film, but after a few meaningful scenes about the relationships between these three friends, I found myself wishing for more.

Sure, it's fun to see Helena Bonham Carter's Bellatrix throwing things around, and it's nice to see Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) squirm instead of smirk, but the genuine camaraderie between the three lead actors is such a pleasure, I hope the final chapter devotes more time to their bond.

As for this installment, I thought it was appropriately dark and full of exposition, and I nearly went to pieces at the culmination of Dobby's big sacrifice. If ever the lesser class had a greater hero!


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fair Game

Today I saw Fair Game, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

It will be the topic of Cinebanter #99, so tune in later this month for our review.