Funny, frank and ultimately beautiful, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon argues for a sexual ethic of connection. Gordon-Levitt wrote and directed the smart send-up of sexual consumerism and also stars as the title character: a tanned, muscled and gelled New Jersey player with a porn problem. Don Jon lays (very) bare the shortcomings of one-sided sex, whether it’s Jon’s cyber-habits or his girlfriend Barbara’s lust-tooled manipulation.
Ok. *Deep breath* I have a confession to make: I did not love this movie. I’ve put off writing about this film for almost three months, and now it’s time to come clean. Please argue with me in the comments section if you love it—and know that the Academy clearly agrees with you. (But commenter David H. doesn’t.)
I think I procrastinated writing this post for so long because I wanted the reasons for my dislike of the octo-nominated movie to be more complicated. But I haven’t read the novel by Matthew Quick for an in-depth literary analysis. I don’t really have much to say as far as social commentary on mental illness goes. All I’ve got is this:
The Valentine’s Day movie-going season is upon us, for worse or for worse. Fortunately, the first lovey-dovey date film I have to announce features brain-eaters. Warm Bodieshas a couple other things going for it, too. First, it’s directed and adapted (from the Isaac Marion novel) by Jonathan Levine, who was behind one of my favorites from 2011, 50/50. Secondly, it stars the charming (and fully grown up) Nicholas Hoult, who I’ve been following sinceAbout a Boy. And, as mentioned, zombies. Can love bridge the undead-notyetdead gap? I am really looking forward to finding out. Rotten Tomatoes has the unique rom-com at 73% right now. The New York Times‘s Manohla Dargis writes, “‘Warm Bodies’ is an improbable romance sweetened with appealing performances and buoyed by one of the better cute meets in recent romantic comedy…”
“Hey girl, are you going to see Gangster Squad this weekend? I’m giving myself cancer for the sake of historical accuracy and everything.”
This star-laden period piece is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes or Less) and written by Castle-scribe Will Beall, based on the book by Paul Lieberman. It tells the story of how a small team of LAPD officers fought mob-boss Mickey Cohen for control of Los Angeles.
The Golden Globe Awards will be held on January 13th. Take a look at the nominees and then get in the mood by watching recent winners!
Five nominees will duke it out for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (rent for $3.99 on Amazon Instant), Les Miserables, Moonrise Kingdom (rent for $3.99 on Amazon Instant), Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (rent for $3.99 on Amazon Instant)and Silver Linings Playbook. Bet smart by looking at recent years’ comedy/musical winners.
One of my favorite Christmas movie moments comes at the end of the lovely 2002 comedy About a Boy. The film is directed by the Weitz brothers, who are responsible for American Pietogether and films like A Better Life (Chris) and Being Flynn (Paul) separately. It’s based on a fantastic book by Nick Hornby, which you really should read. The film stars Hugh Grant, Toni Collette and Nicholas Hoult (who has since grown up, become terrifyingly handsome and now dates Jennifer Lawrence), and I’ve loved it since it came out. But it took on greater meaning for me a couple years ago.
Last spring a couple of my comedy-savvy friends told me I had to go see Sleepwalk with Me at SXSW. A fictionalized account of one man’s real-life struggle with commitment and a rare sleep disorder, Sleepwalk with Me was getting nice reviews but wasn’t on the top of my list. Mike Birbigli-who? I asked. But once I settled in for this sweet comedy, it all came rushing back: Oh, he’s that guy.
If you’ve got comedy-savvy friends, too, you’ve probably been exposed to Mike Birbiglia’s self-depracating and vulnerable brand of storytelling sometime in the past decade. Maybe on Comedy Central , perhaps in his bit parts in Your Sister’s Sister, Cedar Rapids, or Girls (season 1, episode 2). Or maybe the way I was introduced to him: Mike Birbiglia is a regular on the (best ever) radio show This American Life. I had heard parts of the film’s story before in episode 361: Fear of Sleep. In fact, I remember listening to it while I drove the I-29 stretch from Denver to my sister’s place in Fort Collins, hoping for bad traffic so I could hear the whole thing. (Ira Glass, This American Life‘s fearless leader shares a writing credit on the film, along with co-director Birbiglia, his brother Joe, and co-director Seth Barrish.)
DVD 447. The Do-Deca-Pentathlon 2012. Written and directed by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, starring Mark Kelly and Steve Zissis
I saw this DIY film by the Duplass Brothers (Cyrus, Jeff Who Lives at Home, The Puffy Chair) last year at SXSW and immediately fell in love with their poignantly hilarious storytelling style. The story of two estranged brothers who restage a childhood athletic competition, Do-Deca inspired a Duplass Netflix spree and is definitely worth a repeat viewing. Yes, the Mark Duplass who co-directs this film is the same Mark Duplass who stars inSafety Not Guaranteed and Your Sister’s Sister.
Life of Pi
Directed by Ang Lee, adapted by David Magee, starring Suraj Sharma
Based on the absolutely riveting book by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is being eagerly anticipated by book clubs that are curious how its magical realism plot (a young man is shipwrecked and stranded with a Bengal tiger) will translate to screen. Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) is known for his genre-hopping, poetic vision.
You should know that Safety Not Guaranteed is not really about time travel. At least not in the way that Back to the Futureor Primer is about time travel. Safety is more about love…the kind of time-travel that’s available to us all. Meaning that love is able to transform the way we experience the-past-in-the-present almost as well as if we actually flux-capacitor-ed away our regrets.
And, oh, these characters have regrets. Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is an anti-social magazine intern still grieving her mother’s years-past death. Jeff (Jake Johnson) is her boss, a cynical writer still pining after his high-school girlfriend. Jeff sets out on a quest to reconnect with said woman, under the guise of writing a story about this intriguing classified ad: