This 2 In 1 focuses on two movies that play with similar narrative ideas. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but this first movie did remind me of the second (which I saw a while back, and am going to finally review). So without dragging this out too much, here you go (Oh, and the second review might be slightly spoilerous only if you have no idea what you're getting yourself into and/or have never heard of the movie or Charlie Kaufman).
While this movie’s plot makes it sound like your average, run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, it’s really anything but. Instead, it’s more of a dramedy with a bit of narrative flair. Reed Fish (Jay Baruchel) is the local radio show host/news anchor for the incredibly small town of
If ever there were a movie with an ensemble cast full of underused and/or unappreciated actors and actresses, it’s this one. But it really is Jay Baruchel who holds the whole movie together, finally getting some time to shine in a leading role as opposed to his supporting roles in most Judd Apatow films (or the like). Though, for fans of Alexis Bledel, she’s actually not in the film all that much, despite being the main character’s fiancé (well, for a little while).
And what I mean by that last statement is this: You know how in basically every romantic comedy, there’s the build up between the romantic leads that just builds and builds until the end of the movie when it reaches a point where there’s a big fight and the guy has to try and better himself and fix everything? Well, that moment happens in this movie, too, except within the first thirty minutes. The rest of the movie is built around the relationships that Reed has with his small town, while he also tries to patch himself together and fix things. The relationships between Reed, Kate, and Amy, on the other hand, were the weakest point of the movie. It almost felt as if the film were not really a love story, and that the romance part of the film was one of the lesser aspects that needed to be brought forward. But I felt this only hurt the film in the end, when it tried to tie up all the loose ends and fix relationships. I just didn’t feel the character connections, and I even felt confused as to certain character reactions.
But confusion ran high toward the end (and a little ways into the beginning) when you’re thrown for a pretty interesting loop. Not only is this not your everyday Rom Com, but it’s not your typical narrative telling. It really did get into some weird Adaptation territory (or a better example, even though I haven’t seen it, but to compare it to things I’ve heard about the plot, is Synecdoche,
So whatever your preference is, whether you’d like to see Jay Baruchel really get a chance to carry a film, to see Alexis Bledel outside of Gilmore Girls or those Pants movies (and don’t feel like watching the broody Sin City), to see Schuyler Fisk in something for what feels like the first time since Orange County, or just because you’re a fan of wacky narratives, I would recommend the film. It’s no masterpiece, and it could have used a bit of tweaking in the story department, but it’s a good little film.
I Am McLovin!
When I first saw this movie a while back, I thought it was a total mind trip. Well, I finally got around to seeing it again so that I can review it. So how exactly do you adapt a book that can’t be adapted? You make it into a movie about your struggles adapting it into a movie and add in all the Hollywood-esque romance and conflict you didn’t want to add in the first place, but this time as a straight-up commentary on the idea of
Just the mere thought of this movie is enough to make one’s brain hurt. It’s a fictionalized version of Charlie Kaufman’s attempt to adapt a non-fiction book without fictionalizing it. And then it throws in everything that Charlie claims he wants to stay away from. Events that occur in the movie are later established by Charlie as he attempts to get over his writer’s block, making you wonder if anything you’ve seen thus far (or have yet to see) actually happened within the realm of the film or is just the adaptation of the adaptation about the adaptation (I had to think about it just to figure that out). And then there’s the whole mystery about whether or not Donald is real or just a split personality based on a conversation they have about multiple personalities being a Hollywood cliché (which is a perfect thing to add into this movie), so as to juxtapose it next to Donald’s screenplay about a serial killer with multiple personality disorder. But then you see Donald interacting with other people, but then you wonder if those people actually exist, too. This movie messes with your head so much it’s quite literally insane. And I love every bit of it.
The acting is done so well. This has to be Nic Cage’s best movie (or at least one of them). Just to see his range difference between the characters of Charlie and Donald is amazing enough. And I read that Mr. Cage decided to go against acting instincts for this movie and just do the character exactly as the director (Spike Jonze) told him to. And he got an Oscar Nom for it. I think that says something. Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper also do a fine job, especially Chris Cooper, who I really didn’t recognize at all in the film despite his large role. And then, of course, you have the brief supporting roles of Tilda Swinton, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Ron Livingston, all of which do just fine.
I can’t say much else. This movie is all about the story and the acting, though especially the mind-freak of a story. Funnily enough, both Charlie and Donald (who doesn’t even exist) Kaufman are both credited as writers of the movie, adding to the zaniness. If you haven’t seen this one already, I really do recommend it at least once. It’s worth the ‘trip’, especially if you know who Charlie Kaufman is and are a fan of film.
Royale With Cheese