After months of eager anticipation and doubt in this film's distributors (thankfully proven wrong), I made time as a recently-single individual to catch what I now consider one of my favorite films of 2009.
In the indie-inclined, quirky rom-com category, there seem to be some tricks that filmmakers will always turn to without fail. Without careful consideration and thoughtful execution, many of these things can progress from tried-and-true to just truly trite. Thankfully, veteran music director Marc Webb's leap into feature films is a perfect example of where all the right elements find a comfortable balance, much like one experiences on a perfect, breezy summer day.
During the opening sequence of (500) Days of Summer, a distinct unaffected voice reminds the audience that "this is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront...this is not a love story". Somewhere along the film, you may reach a point where you disagree with this statement, or you may not. I feel that this is precisely one of the film's strengths, because I've always found that in real life, a love affair (and even its demise) are subject to individual perception--sometimes even (or perhaps most especially) for those involved in it.
The integration of the narrator as an omniscient figure in the lives of the two leads reminded me greatly of Little Children, and to a certain extent, the lessons learned by the main characters in both these cinematic works parallel each other. Since we're on the subject of Kate Winslet's body of work, I'm certain I wasn't the only one reminded of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind while watching (500) Days of Summer thanks to the use of a non-linear narrative to highlight those key moments in a relationship. I suppose it's because when things go awry, your memories of your once-great-love become fragmented as you try to break everything apart and piece together the reason for your breakup.
Music plays a huge role in this film as well, and admittedly, I got teary-eyed when Regina Spektor's "Us" began to play during the opening credits (but that's only due to an extremely personal frame of reference). I would love it if the film took home a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack for a Motion Picture like Zach Braff did for Garden State. We all have soundtracks to the different loves who have walked in and out of our lives, and for those who have stuck around, so it only makes sense that music be a driving force in the story.
Zooey Deschanel plays the titular Summer, a character that co-screenwriter Scott Neustadster based on a real girl with whom he shared an ill-fated romance. Since this is a "modern", "non-love story", Summer's perception of relationships is one that used to be assigned to the male species. Again, echoing Kate's Clementine in Eternal Sunshine, she's charmingly intriguing yet slightly askew, physically attractive but emotionally elusive. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Tom Hanson holds a belief in direct contradiction to Summer's: a true romantic, when he sees her for the first time in the greeting card company where they work, he's convinced that she's "The One". That's precisely where the trouble in their romance begins: in the beginning.
Of course, they're both too swept up in the momentum of those moments that make up the great first part of a relationship: the thrill of flirtation, the exhilaration of mutual (albeit differing degrees of) attraction, and the promise of possibility. That's what I took most out of this charming little film. It may not be the most innovative thing to come along in a while, but it's effective in its attempt at reminding us that sometimes, in love and in life, we all choose to see what we want to see, and leave ourselves blind to other possibilities. Possibilities that might actually hold the promise of that happiness we've been searching for.
P.S. I've always had a soft spot for split-screen sequences and Simon & Garfunkel's "Bookends".
Being busy with "life" however, does provide a certain level of welcome distraction though I'm sure that we all know that once you're left with too much free time on your hands, you begin to slowly unravel. So sooner or later, facing the music is really the only option you have left. And who knows? You just might begin to hear the most beautiful songs you've ever heard.
- Sounds:Imago - Under Repair
To say that Watchmen is an intense movie experience is a staggering understatement. I don’t yet have the words to describe precisely how profound a piece of art it is, and I don’t think I will ever be able to do justice to what was presented in its sprawling, almost 3-hour running time.
I don’t want to attempt to encapsulate all the themes that were jammed into my brain, because I’m sure die-hard fans of the graphic novel series (which I am shamefully not) will do a better job at that.
As a film buff, I can say that it’s one of the most thought-provoking and somewhat disturbing films I’ve ever seen. And I mean disturbing in a good way. It sort of jolts you from whatever thoughtlessly meandering state of existence you might be in, and challenges you to question so much about your reality. That’s a rather interesting condition to be set upon you by a piece of absolutely out-of-this world ficiton.
This story may be about individuals with superhuman abilities, but ultimately, what we are constantly reminded of throughout the unfolding events is that they are at their core, human. And we’re left to question what that in itself truly means.
- Sounds:311 - I'll Be Here A While
(This is dedicated to my sisters Lisa and Tina, and my brother Joam. hahahah. Love you all!)
You know how when you were just a little kid how cool some things seemed to you? I was practically raised by movies and TV, and when we were little, my siblings and I would watch our favorite movies over and over again, sometimes even several viewings in one week. Since we all love to sing, staples on our movie list comprised of the usual suspects: The Sound of Music, Oliver, Annie, and of course Grease.
There's no arguing the value of these timeless cinematic gems, but another film that was part of the roster of must-see musicals was Grease 2. Set in the same high school as the original, but featuring an entirely new cast of characters (except for some members of the faculty I think), the main characters were portrayed by a then unknown Michelle Pfeiffer and a Broadway actor named Maxwell Caulfield. While Michelle has become one of the most beloved Hollywood stars since this movie, sadly I only remember Maxwell now as "Sexy Rexy" Rex Manning in Empire Records.
When I think about how I knew all these songs by heart as a wee one, I only just realized how peppered the movie was with sexual themes. There were songs like "Let's Do It For Our Country", "Score Tonight", and most blatantly, "Reproduction". The real point of this entry is to give you a taste of how much ridiculous fun this movie was and even though it tanked at the box office, it still entertains me. Although now, it's because I see how silly it really is. Case in point, one of my favorites as a child was Michelle's (rather cringeworthy) solo performance piece, "Cool Rider":
As a bonus, here are some other gems from these cheesefest:
"Girl For All Seasons/ Love Will Turn Back The Hands of Time"
Even in my own life, I've always felt this strange and inexplicable inability to retain detailed information about all that happens to me. It's almost as if I'm pre-programmed to live in the moment, and not mind every little thing too much. I'm not sure if I've always been this way or if this is some sort of involuntary coping mechanism I've developed over the years. This is why I would have never made a good lawyer, historian, detective, or any type of individual whose memory retention is crucial to their existence. I wonder if there's some sort of synaptic disorder in my brain that results in this storage breakdown. Or maybe I just have selective memory retention that's specific to random (and somewhat insignificant) entertainment trivia.
Things that happened to me mere months ago to me may already seem like years when I try to recall them. That's why I think I took to blogging as just a way of committing online everything that my brain can't earmark properly. Hopefully, I won't forget what's in the next paragraph because it is something I want to hold firmly to.
My resolution this 2009 is to never stop coming up with resolutions that I want to keep aiming to fulfill. Resolutions for this messy, embarassingly disjointed sum of experiences I call my life.
When you really think about it, why do we always begin each year with "new" resolutions? Why not just resolve to make a difference in yourself on a daily basis throughout the year(s)? Just a thought. Resolve if you wish.
( And oh yeah, here are some random things that made 2008 fun/interesting/great in my book:Collapse )
Put your player on shuffle and hit the 'Next' button to get your answer to every question. You must indicate the title and artist, no matter how far-fetched it sounds. Tag people who might be interested in doing this same thing. No cheating.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
"Where Is The Line?" - Björk
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
"Cello Song" - Nick Drake
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
"Someone Says" - Editors
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
"If I Needed Someone" - The Beatles
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
"Eating Spiders" - Psapp (But I'm vegan now!)
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
"Girlfriend In A Coma" - The Smiths (HAHAHAH. Classic.)
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
"Blackbird" - Evan Rachel Wood (Aw.)
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
"All Along The Watchtower" - Eddie Vedder And The Million Dollar Bashers
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
"We'll Never Sleep (God Knows We'll Try) - Rilo Kiley (That sounds about right.)
WHAT SONG WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
"Freedom 90" - George Michael (Oh you know it! hahahahaha)
WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
"Filmstar" - Suede (Ah if only it were to come true.)
WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
"Freedom" - Tegan And Sara
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
"Breakin" - Music
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
"Summer Skin" - Death Cab For Cutie
WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
"Dream TV" - Sugarcubes
HOW WILL YOU DIE?
"The Same Old Song" - A Camp
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
"Fish N Chips" - Wolfmann
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
"The Golden Age" - Beck
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
"Take Your Mama Out" - Scissor Sisters (NOT EVEN!)
WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
"Everlong" - Foo Fighters (Actually, everlong sounds like something I would enjoy.)
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
"A Month Dead" - Stephen Lynch (WTF)
WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
"Suck My Kiss" - Red Hot Chili Peppers (I beg to disagree.)
WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS?
"Misery" - The Cliks
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
|Purgatory (Repenting Believers)||Low|
|Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)||Low|
|Level 2 (Lustful)||Very High|
|Level 3 (Gluttonous)||Moderate|
|Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)||Very Low|
|Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)||High|
|Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)||Very Low|
|Level 7 (Violent)||Very High|
|Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)||High|
|Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)||Low|
Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test
- Sounds:Hairspray on HBO
- Choose a singer/band/group
- Answer the following using ONLY titles of songs by that singer/band/group
Singer: RUFUS WAINWRIGHT
1. Are you male or female? Between My Legs
2. Describe yourself. Rebel Prince
3. What do people feel when they’re around you? Instant Pleasure
4. How would you describe your previous relationship? Foolish Love
5. Describe your current relationship. In My Arms
6. Where would you want to be now? The Tower Of Learning
7. How do you feel about love? Poses
8. What’s your life like? I Don’t Know What It Is
9. What would you ask for if you had only one wish? Release The Stars
10. Say something wise. Nobody’s Off The Hook