Tuesday, December 28, 2010

She's Out of My League: Surprisingly Romantic

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel
Category: Romantic Comedy
What drove me to watch this, I'm not sure. I had dismissed this as another run-of-the-mill romantic comedy with all the standard elements of the tried and tested formula. Disappointed too many times recently with romantic comedies that promised everything but either delivered weak performances or unbelievable stories, my hopes were not high.  But it came up and I went and did not walk out disappointed.
This movie is refreshing amongst the gross-out comedies, sappy-angst vampire movies and computer effects laden mish-mash that is presented as movies. Although it treads a path well-trodden and tries to be funny by detour through gross-out-land, in the end it is a movie with heart and a beautiful story to boot.
Kirk and his friends work at the airport in Pittsburgh. He ends up dating Molly, a beautiful blonde he helps with a lost phone. Basically, that is the movie. Although Molly asks out and starts dating Kirk in the hope that he is a safe date and won't hurt her, she later sees in Kirk someone who is sweet, shares in her interests and can make her laugh. It's the starting point in a lot of relationships. Kirk can't figure out why she is giving him the time of day but considers himself lucky and goes along on the ride. The story swings between Kirk's insecurities and Molly's insecurities and their trials of couple-hood. Their problems are so believable, some of the grins of the people watching are from recognizing the problems Kirk and Molly are going through rather than finding the problems funny. While there are big moments in the relationship when it lurches forward or backwards, it is in the small, quite moments they share that you get a sense that what they are going through is real. This is where the story is beautiful.
Professionally Framed She's Out of My League Movie (Kiss) Poster - 24x36 with RichAndFramous Black Wood FrameWhat makes the film funny are the plots involving their friends and family. Both of them share a common problem in that they both have issues with their families. They support each other in their relationship with each other's families. Molly tolerates Kirk's bizzare family, while Kirk helps Molly get closer to hers. And both realize how important family is to each other as their relationship develops and the relationship with their families change. 
Both Kirk and Molly get support from their friends but the movie gives more focus on Kirk's merry band of brothers, each with their own distinct, interesting personalities. Stainer is Kirk's best friend from childhood while Jack and Devon joined them throughout the years. And like all real friends, they mess with each other's lives, even the parts that they don't share. The other 'relationship' to this movie is Stainer and Patty, both of whom do not advocate their friends relationship. Although they hate each other, both do it because they truly care about their friend. Tina and Katie, Molly's sister, make up the rest of Molly's friends. Ultimately, it is these friendships that factor most to Molly and Kirk. They are better because of these friendship and not in spite of them. They see in Molly and Kirk something good happening even though the obvious physical difference between both. Isn't that a sign of a real relationship, to feel secure enough to show one's insecurities, safe in the knowledge the other person will accept you regardless. And that is there the movie has heart. If you haven't seen it, you should.

500 Days of Summer: A breath of fresh air and reality in one go

Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
Category: Independant Film
Some movies defy categorisation. By the way, what is the movie anyway? It's a medium to tell a story. It's visual and auditory. And the best movies can invoke an experience, which is more than the sum of what is shown on screen and heard in the theatre. While Hollywood seems to think that the only way to do this is pump up the volume and CGI everything, some times you don't need to shout to be heard.
500 Days of Summer works on so many levels. It invokes the feeling of being in love through so many ways. It invokes it through intimacy of the Tom and Summer, through Tom's musings of the 'little things' he loves about Summer, through a park song and dance number expressing Tom's elation in being in love with Summer. But he also invokes it through Tom's sadness of Summer leaving him, Tom's rants on the 'little things' he despises of Summer, the resentment of being demoted to 'best friend', that despite his anger and bitterness over Summer rejection of him, the negativity seems to only emphasize how much he loves her.
The director has made an unconventional movie about a love but the genius of it is rather than rely on Hollywood cliches and plot, he takes the whole load of the tools of the genre, like the meet-cute and narration, and uses them for other than what it was intended, like emphasizing points and moving the plot along. For example, narration. Narration even moved from the third person perspective to almost participatory. All of this ends in a "Hollywood ending" with a not so Hollywood message (e.g. Love conquers all, Hard work is always rewarded, etc).
Best of all, despite of all the use of the story telling tools, the emotions it evokes feels genuine. Tom and Summer's relationship felt and looked real. Raw and often frayed at the edges. This is on the same level as 'Once', another movie that just tears you apart.
Immersive and inventive. Brimming with real emotions and situations. A good watch on a rainy summer day.

Music was great. Definitely worth another listen.