Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Christina Applegate, Charlie Day

"A comedy about meeting each other halfway"

I believe given that Justin Long and Drew Barrymore have an on and off again romance in real life contributed to their great chemistry on screen.

In this film, they play Erin and Garrett, a couple who are compatible in every way yet they live in different states. They try their best to make their long distance relationship work despite the time difference by maintaining an open line of communication. In this day and age, it is quite easy. One is only a phone call, a text message or chat away. In fact there is no reason not to keep in touch.

Yet as most LDRs go, jealousy, paranoia and the longing to be physically together starts to creep in and takes its toll on the relationship. In that aspect, both Long and Barrymore managed to portray these 'cons', realistically.

The supporting cast mostly provided the comedic lines in the film. Although there were some scenes which I didn't find funny and even found them to be offensive, raunchy and not politically correct. On the other hand, Christina Applegate as Erin's older sister was a riot even though it was such a short role.

For someone who has had LDRs in my distant past, I know how difficult and tough it is to maintain and sustain these type of romantic involvements. So in that regard, the film did pretty well and I like the way it ended. It wasn't really concretely conclusive, but we can draw up our own conclusions. And for me, Erin and Garrett do belong with each other.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Audrey Tautou, Benoit Poelvoorde, Emmanuelle Devos

"Before she was France's famous mademoiselle ..."

When one reads the name "Chanel", we immediately think about the elegant brand of haute couture which gave us fashionable clothes and accessories. Yet way before she became a fashion icon, she went by the name Gabrielle Chanel and used the nickname "Coco" from the song she sang with her sister Adrienne in a vaudeville act.

This biopic takes off after they are abandoned by their father in an orphanage. The two Chanel sisters make ends meet by being seamstress of the performers in a little bar where they perform as well. It also focuses on her liaison with a certain Baron Balsan and briefly presents her love affair with an English merchant named Arthur "Boy" Capel. Capel is said to be 'the love of her life'.

The authentic set design and the picturesque cinematography of the verdant French countryside merely serves as an attractive backdrop to this rather lightweight biography. Unlike the hugely melodramatic yet very meaty biopic about the life of Edith Piaf ("La Vie en Rose"), Coco Avant Chanel focused on a dull and boring stage in the style guru's life. Audrey Tautou with her pixie hairstyle and doe eyed wonder is quite charming but it isn't enough to salvage a poorly detailed plot.

Since it is about Chanel before she became famous, the film ends with a little fashion show where she presents her first collection of hats to the Parisian society. A little note before the end credits gave the viewers a short idea about how she spent the rest of her life on earth. I didn't really have the faintest idea about Coco Chanel's life before, during and after her fashion brand gained fame, so I figure this film was tolerable in the sense that I did learn a tiny bit about her humble beginnings.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Alba Rohrwacher, Pierfranceso Favino

This tale of infidelity unfurls in Milan, Italy. Anna (Alba Rohrwacher) is an accountant for an insurance company. She lives with Alessio, a rotund and kind hearted handyman. They are a childless couple who seem to have a comfortable life and as far as the viewers are concerned they look like any happy couple. That's before she meets Domenico (Pierfrancesco Favino). He was the caterer/waiter hired by her company for the retirement party of Anna's colleague. Soon enough after a couple of misgivings and false starts, Anna and Domenico begin their passionate affair.

The film chronicles the powerful emotions involved in an adulterous relationship. The web of lies and excuses they concoct to cover up their affair seemed valid. Yet in the same breath, the film also measures the day-by-day emotional cost of the affair: not only to Anna and Domenico, who are increasingly guilt-ridden and prickly with each other, but also to family, friends and business associates.

"Come Undone" is solidly grounded in mundane reality. The somber hesitations, the fiery nature of their passionate affair, the craziness of lying - it all boils down to a brief passage in the central characters' lives when they purposefully make the wrong decisions about sex, love, and physicality just because it feels right.

As most adulterous affairs go, eventually Anna wonders and begins to question the validity of their affair. Lying in Domenico's arms after one of their trysts, she prods him whether they have a future together. Domenico, in turn asks Anna, "Can't you just live in the moment?" The fact that she can't fully answer the question speaks to the film's ability to transcend its often trite material with complex characterizations.

That in my opinion was the defining moment in this anatomy of an adulterous affair. I was somewhat puzzled as throughout the movie, Domenico was the first one to say the "L" word to Anna. Yet when she quizzes him about whether the affair had any merits, he is unable to 'commit'. So I guess due to that little twist, the final scene at the airport was firmly conclusive - both for the affair as well as the movie itself.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans

"He's got a lot on his mind"

Noam Baumbach, the director of "The Squid and the Whale" pegs this indie film. The story follows Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) who returns to L.A. (from New York) in order to house-sit for his brother. Greenberg is forty years old and extremely neurotic. He no longer possesses a driver’s license, was hospitalized for depression and is content with doing absolutely nothing. Although he is a carpenter, by occupation. He seems comfortable with the idea of continuing with a lackluster existence. He spends his days writing complaint letters to the editor and walking Mahler, the German shepherd.

He meets his brother's assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig). Florence is a whimsical young adult struggling to find her place in the post-academic world, overwhelmed by thoughts of how to bring meaning to her life. She’s a likable character who tries to see the best in Greenberg – in spite of his routine temper tantrums, awkward demeanor, and disregard for the feelings of others.

I found Gerwig's easygoing performance entirely authentic and unaffected. Although sometimes I thought that Florence deserved a lot better in life than she gives herself credit for.

As for Stiller well frankly I never found his brand of comedy, funny. My first impressions of him were perfectly captured by his character in "Reality Bites". His first directorial film starring Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke.

As Greenberg, Ben Stiller has the gaunt and haunted look of a self-involved character who is suddenly confronted with the shocking realization that he has nothing concrete to show for at your age yet doesn't make any valid effort to correct his past mistakes. It was really sad and tragic. But a small part of me was telling myself, Greenberg deserves his sorry fate because truthfully he was one of the most unlikeable characters I've seen on the big screen.

To conclude, I think they were all generic indie characters who never seemed to have any internal motivation. Everyone seemed to behave like they simply have to accept their uninspiring existence which in essence can only work in an indie film.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany,
MIranda Richardson, Mark Strong

"Her Country. Her Heart. Her Majesty."

Star Movies

This period piece looks at the early days of Queen Victoria. As portrayed by Emily Blunt, the film presents her life from a pampered princess, to her romance with her first cousin, Prince Albert (Rupert Friend) to her eventual ascension to the throne upon the death of her uncle, King William.

Amidst the various royal intrigue and political machinations reminiscent of those turbulent years in England's rich history, the film also gives way to a sweet romantic tale between Victoria and her suitor the German Prince Albert.

Blunt’s performance is restrained and fiery, yet her character doesn't really evolve much. She goes from a strong, determined young woman to a strong, determined young queen, but she undergoes little significant growth.

Having said done, I also believe her portrayal of the young Queen Victoria propels her to a new level. Emily Blunt proves herself versatile and capable of carrying an entire film by transforming a beloved monarch from a page in history to someone who is, well, human just like the rest of us.

The rest of the cast is ably supported by talented British actors like Jim Broadbent, Mark Strong and Paul Bettany as the scheming Lord Melbourne - they all give convincing performances.

The storyline is strong and I like how it didn't delve too much into the intriguing political machinations which can be a tad boring, if you ask me. The costumes were spectacularly authentic and the cinematography was vibrant.

Oh I also like to give praise to Star Movies for including subtitles to some of their main features. It does help a lot for us viewers to have a firmer grasp on the dialogue. Well done!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart
Judy Greer, Dan Fogler

"Sometimes when you least expect it"


Burke Ryan (Aaron Eckhart) is a widower on a seminar tour of his best selling self help book called "A-Okay". It is a program which helps people cope with the loss of loved ones. His workshop brings him to Seattle where he is billeted at the Hyatt hotel. In the city of the Space Needle, he literally bumps into Eloise (Jennifer Aniston) a local florist who does flower arrangements for the hotel.

Then boy tries to woo girl but it seems that girl is a bit eccentric so his pursuit of her initially meets with resistance. Although the film is categorized as a romantic comedy, I'd say there is nothing funny about the grief and anguish people experience after losing a loved one. So in that sense, the film did tread carefully and didn't trivialize the sensitive matter. As for the romantic aspect well there were no visible sparks between Burke and Eloise from the get go. Yet somehow love does happen even if it unravels some bumps along the way.

Aniston’s performance is unremarkable while Eckhart as Burke is still an intriguing enough character vis a vis on how he deals with his success in the wake of his wife’s death. I believe that Aaron Eckhard despite lacking your average heartthrob looks is very charismatic in a non intrusive way. This works to his advantage as he projects well on screen.

The good thing about the movie despite its predictable plot is its setting. It highlighted some spots and made Seattle seem like an appealing city to visit. Plus I learned what the words "quidnunc" and "poppysimc" means. Thanks to Eloise who does quirky things like write random words on the walls behind paintings.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein

À la claire fontaine,
M'en allant promener
J'ai trouvé l'eau si belle
Que je m'y suis baigné

Refrain :
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime
Jamais je ne t'oublierai
I actually remember singing this song when I was a child in the mid 1980s growing up in Brussels, Belgium. The title of this French movie comes from a traditional folk song called "A La Claire Fontaine".

"I've Loved You So Long" is a tale of two sisters who are reunited after a long period of time. Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) has just been released from prison after a 15 year sentence for killing her son. Her younger sister, Lea a university professor picks her up from some terminal and drives her to her house. A spacious bungalow type where she lives with her husband, her father in law and her two adopted daughters who are of Vietnamese descent.

The enigmatic portrayal of Kristin Scott Thomas as the mysterious Juliette takes center stage in this slow revealing and dramatic story. Devoid of any make-up and adapting a morose demeanor, she speaks French fluently, we tend to forget she is British, after all. Her character Juliette wears a permanent look of glum resignation throughout the movie.

The quiet work between Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein, as Lea, is stunning to watch. Their quick glances, their awkward embrace, their entire body language informs viewers that while these sisters love one another, they don't know how to behave towards and with each other. As periods of incarceration and estrangement have separated the women for many years.

The movie tracks Juliette's tentative, almost unwilling progress back into society. As well as her coming to terms with her 'crime'. A very painful past which isn't revealed until the very end where she has a breakdown of sorts. A revealing moment that honestly took its time to be exposed to the viewers. Yet somehow when it is finally out in the open, you almost feel like you walked in on a secret that was never meant to be discovered.

Brilliant subtle acting from Kristin Scott Thomas salvages this French film from completely being a bore due to its slow pacing and depressing tones.

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