Like Crazy

Like Crazy is a film directed by Drake Doremus and co-written by Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones.  The film follows two college students who fall in love.  Jacob (Anton Yelchin) is an American while Anna (Felicity Jones) is on student visa from England.  The courtship between the two characters is pleasant and happy until Anna violates the terms of the visa by staying the summer to be with her love.  Anna’s decision has long-term ramifications for her relationship with Jacob.  Jacob has to do a long distance relationship with Anna.  The film basically asks us what we would do for love and for this couple it seems they would do everything in order to show love for the other person.

Like Crazy is not a love story; it’s a story about the value of a relationship.  Anton and Felicity have marvelous chemistry as Jacob and Anna.  Everything about this relationship focuses on keeping love in extraordinary circumstances.  Anna’s mistake was overstaying her visa knowing that there would be consequences if she did.  Jacob fights considerably hard to keep Anna with him.  Jacob even visits England a few times so that he can be close to Anna.  The struggles that this particular couple face all seem organic and real to me.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of a long distance relationship I once had while watching this film and how much that person meant in my life.  Tonally, people say this film is very similar to last year’s bleak romantic drama Blue Valentine, I disagree.  Like Crazy has a lighter tone with a few very intense moments that counteract the moments of sincere love that Jacob and Anna display towards one another.  When Jacob and Anna fight, it’s over issues we see earlier in the film and their anger at each other makes sense and is justified when things reach a breaking point.  Like Crazy is by no means a cheerful movie, but the points of anger between Jacob and Anna are not consistent enough for the film to be considered as bleak as Blue Valentine.  I love this movie because its realistic and natural.  Most of the credit goes to Yelchin and Jones for improvising most of their dialogue and giving their characters enough raw emotion to feel genuine.

Like Crazy is one of the most realistic film portrayals of being in a relationship and is a film that is not to be missed.  Like Crazy drove me crazy, in a very good way.

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Tower Heist

Tower Heist is a film directed by Brett Ratner and written by Ted Griffin and Jeff Nathanson.  The film’s premise is pretty basic.  Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) is the general manager of an expensive upscale hotel called The Tower.  The Tower is owned by a guy named Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), a kind and considerably wealthy old man.  Josh learns that Shaw managed the pensions of every employee at The Tower and that Shaw lost the money through a series of bad business deals.  Josh realizes that the only way to recuperate the pensions of the employees is to steal money from Arthur Shaw.  Josh Kovacs decides to enlist the help of a fast talking low life neighbor Slide (Eddie Murphy) and use his criminal expertise to rob Arthur Shaw of the little money he has left.

Tower Heist is one of those films that I had very high expectations for.   The film didn’t meet my expectations.  This film was hailed as the film that would resurrect Eddie Murphy’s failing acting career but for all the hype the film was given, Murphy’s character had very few connections to the main character or the supporting cast.  Murphy’s character was funny but essentially useless to the film’s progressing plot.  Mathew Broderick is also in this film and though he is an unemployed financial analyst, none of his skills are used in the film’s hour and forty-four minute running time.  There are laughs to be had in Tower Heist and most of the cast works well together, however, all of the heart that’s injected into the film only comes from one character that we don’t see very often.  The character I speak of loses his entire retirement fund to Arthur Shaw and how that loss mentally effects him gives the film what little heart it has.

In short, Tower Heist has charm and a little bit of heart but the story is weak and the heist section of the film is boring and tedious.  This movie was not Eddie Murphy’s comeback movie.  This heist offered false promises and stole my money in the process.

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In Time

In Time stars Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried.  In Time revolves around a not too distant future where scientists have somehow managed to stop the gene that allows human beings to age.  When human beings reach their 25th birthday, a clock controlling their heart starts counting down from 1 year.  People work to earn more time on their clock and once their clock reaches 0 they die.  Time is seemingly infinite for those who are independently wealthy, but for those people who do not hold steady work their lives are tragically short.  The main character of this film is Will Salas.  Will someone rich by accident and is given a significant amount of time by that rich person.  Will doesn’t exactly know what to do with the time so he gives it to the poor who are suffering.  Timekeepers, who are essentially police who manage time in different sectors notice that Will has more time than he is supposed to.  Will suffers a tragedy and then decides to take revenge for his loss by making the rich people in this society loss everything.  Will kidnaps a rich young woman and Timekeepers race after Will to rescue her. 

In Time was written and directed by Andrew Niccol.  Andrew Niccol is famous for writing and directing another dystopian future film people may be familiar with entitled Gattaca.  In Time has a more frantic pace than Gattaca and is a futuristic Bonnie and Clyde story with a Robin Hood like twist.  Justin Timberlake isn’t given much room to showcase any real acting skills as this film is primarily an action vehicle to give him more mainstream appeal.  Largely, I think the tactic to use this film as an action picture works but there could have been room left open to have the film comment on the idea that regardless of what is the currency in society, greed is the way human beings survive in society.  Amanda Seyfried basically serves as the films token outsider and rich girl with a spoon in her mouth.  She really has nothing that makes her remotely interesting or worth any emotional investment.  The film’s emotional core is Justin Timberlake and every emotion the audience is supposed to feel has to come from him.  Justin’s character Will is actually fleshed out rather well, I just wish the supporting characters around Will were supported the same amount.

In Time is by no means a bad movie but it had opportunities to be great instead of good.  Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried are good actors I just don’t believe the screenplay gives them as many opportunities to display that as I would have liked.  In Time won’t have you looking at your watch, but it will make you wonder whether this film could have used more time to really be worth your money.

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The Three Musketeers

Paul W.S. Anderson’s version of The Three Musketeers is a movie supposedly based on the classic novel by Alexander Dumas.  This is IMDB’s summation of the film’s plot.  I completely disagree with it.  The hot-headed young D’Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down on their luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war. 

My problem with this movie is simple, the story is horrible.  I think that the characters aren’t really people you can care about.  The Musketeers personalities are based on their fighting styles.  Athos is a silent assassin who has a plan for everything.  Aramis is a priest and only fights when he has to and says a prayer after every set of kills.  Porthos is a jolly man who kills men using heavy weapons, usually sticks.  D’Artagnan is a swordfighter just like his father who is a retired Musketeer.  I hated all three villains in this film mainly because they weren’t fighting the Musketeers towards a specific personal goal.  Milady is played by Mila Jovovich who is also the wife of the director of this film.  Milady is the eye candy of the film and is a villain who chooses to side with whoever has the most power.  In other words, she’s an opportunist.   Christoph Waltz from Inglorious Bastards fame plays a cardinal in Louis XIV court who is trying to break up the king’s marriage to his queen to try and gain power in Europe.

This film doesn’t work because it’s an excessive action film with no solid story.  The characters aren’t memorable and the dialogue is atrocious.  All for one and none for me.  Three Musketeers and one bad film.

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50/50

50/50 is one of those films that if you had the good fortune to see the trailer you probably thought “oh this is another cancer comedy.”  The film written by Will Reiser and directed by Jonathan Levine works to show the subtle effects a cancer diagnosis and treatment can have on someone of a younger age.  The film stars Joseph Gordon Levitt as Adam, a capable radio journalist at public radio station in Seattle Washington.  Adam goes into the doctor for a routine check up and is literally paralyzed by the news that doctors have found a specific and rare type of cancer in his body.  Seth Rogen’s character is Adam’s best friend Kyle.  Kyle is the comedic relief of the piece for most of the movie.  The comedy comes not only from Rogen playing a dialed down version of himself but from the supporting cast like Bryce Dallas Howard as Adam’s girlfriend Rachel and Adam’s mom Diane played by the capable Angelica Huston.

The film takes its dramatic center from Adam’s suffering.  Levitt’s performance as Adam is remarkably restrained and instead of feeling or showing rage throughout most of the film, Levitt opts to use body language to communicate feelings.  In short, his character is only verbally hostile for short bursts and most of the time Adam chooses to keep what he truly feels about the cancer buried.

50/50 is less about Adam trying to win his fight with cancer and more about how he processes the idea of having cancer.  I think the director and screenwriter did an amazing job of showing audiences a sympathetic character and a new perspective on how cancer can affect someone.  There are plenty of humorous moments that work to balance the morose subject matter.  Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen did a great job making their characters seem real and making the story something very captivating to watch.  I love this film and feel that people need to go see it.

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