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…”
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.)
Writer and director Lynn Shelton is known for making sweet movies about not-so-sweet situations. While her breakout hit Humpdaywas a more extreme version of that emotional sleight-of-hand (just check out the film’s logline), Your Sister’s Sisteredges this indie queen into mainstream territory with this tale of tangled relationships, bad decisions and good intentions.
Jack (Mark Duplass) is grieving his brother’s death. His brother’s girlfriend was Iris (Emily Blunt), who has become Jack’s best friend and voice of reason. Iris sends Jack to her family’s secluded cabin for a time out after he makes a scene at an anniversary memorial gathering. What Iris doesn’t know is her half sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is already there, mourning her split from a long-time lover. What Jack doesn’t know is that Iris is beginning to have feelings for him. What Hannah doesn’t know is that her reckless efforts to heal her own broken heart are about to break a couple more.