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Reviews for July 29th, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.

      After learning that his wife, Emily (Julianne Moore), has cheated on him with her co-worker (Kevin Bacon) and wants a divorce, Cal Weaver(Steve Carell) heads off to the bar every night to drown his sorrows. After the umpteenth time at the bar, he notices a ladiesí man, Jacob (Ryan Gosling), beckoning him to his table. Jacob offers him a chance to help him smooth-talk his way into finding a sexy woman. Not surprisingly, Cal also gets a new haircut and wardrobe to look more attractive. Meanwhile, Calís son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), awkwardly professes his love for his babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton), and Jessica secretly has a crush on Cal. There turns out to be a sweet romance between Jacob and Hanna (Emma Stone), a girl he initially, unsuccessfully tried to woo at the bar. Just when you thought the subplots were finally over, you learn that Cal has a fling Kate (Marisa Tomei), a teacher he also meets at the bar. Take a good a guess whose teacher Kate happens to be because thatís one of that filmís few contrived twists.

      A truly great romantic comedy should be heartfelt, funny, insightful and grounded in reality. The screenplay by David Fogelman offers many amusing and poignant moments with a few laugh-out-loud parts, but it says nothing new or surprising about its universal issues of love, marriage, friendship and divorce. As the Cal tries to become more of a ladiesí man, the film becomes less and less realistic and slightly more contrived. Thereís nothing wrong with a romcom having an ensemble cast with lots of romantic relationships---just look at how well itís done in Love Actually. Crazy, Stupid, Love begins on the right foot with smart, honest and funny dialogue, but it soon loses its momentum and turns into a pedestrian romcom that doesnít know how to tie and intertwine its many relationships believably. The ending feels rushed and tacked-on with an unnecessary twist that just distances everything even further from reality. On a positive note, each member of the ensemble cast gets a chance to shine, especially Ryan Gosling who radiates oodles of charisma, and proves that he can be an appealing lead much like he was in The Notebook. He helps to make the film at least mildly engaging, but without a consistently smart script, he isnít able to elevate it beyond mediocrity.

      At a running time of just under two hours, Crazy, Stupid, Love is amusing, initially smart and heartfelt with plenty of charm thanks to its terrific ensemble cast, but it eventually becomes contrived, uneven and sophomoric.

Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Opens at the AMC Empire 25.
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.

The Future

Directed by Miranda July

      Sophie (Miranda July), a dance instructor, lives with her boyfriend, Jason (Hamish Linklater), a tech support operator, in a suburban Los Angeles apartment. When they find a wounded, stray cat, Paw-Paw (voice of Miranda July), they bring it to a shelter and learn that it has approximately 6 months to live, so they agree to adopt it. Since they have one month until Paw-Paw arrives at their apartment for adoption, they decide to make the most out of their lives throughout that month. They both quit their jobs. Jason accepts a job that requires him to go door-to-door asking for donations for an environmental cause. Sophie films herself performing a bunch of dance routines, and uploads the videos onto YouTube in hopes of becoming a big internet sensation. In one of the films many bizarre, refreshingly unpredictable scenes, she calls a number on the back of a drawing, and reaches a widowed man, Marshall (David Warshofsky), and starts flirting with him right away. She eventually meets him in person to have an affair before yelling out the window to see whether or not he can hear her if he happens to live close by. Meanwhile, Jason discovers that he can freeze time and that the moon can talk to him.

    &nsbp The Future is far from your average drama about the events that transpire to a boyfriend and girlfriend. Writer/director Miranda July takes narrative risks that highlight her imaginative skills as a filmmaker, but those risks will test your patience and either make you consider the film to be pretentious or brilliant---either way, though, you canít deny that what youíre viewing is a daring work of art. Itís an often provocative film that doesnít apologize for being elliptical, bizarre or for awkwardly blending drama, tragedy, magical realism, dry comedy, philosophy and existentialism. Everything has some kind of meaning and purpose associated to it whether itís Paw-Paw, the moon, a t-shirt or even a hole in the ground where a young girl enjoys sleeping in. Intelligent audience members, especially those who appreciated Julyís last unconventional film, Me and You and Everyone You Know, will have a great time pondering and discussing those meanings. Perhaps The Future will one day be studied and analyzed scene-for-scene in a film class.

      While the plot deals with a very specific couple and includes some elements of sci-fi, itís concurrently universal and grounded in realism the more you contemplate each scene. To simple-minded audience members stuck in a bubble where the world to them is filled with fluffy kittens and the Easter bunny, itíll certainly be a shocking and frightening glimpse of eye-opening realism because it compels them to ask very heavy questions their own future and their purpose in life. Those audience members will probably complain that the film is too depressing, and fail to notice its glimmers of hope and optimism. Everyone else, though, will hopefully appreciate and feel haunted by the filmís profundity, unpredictability and brilliance.

      At a running time of 1 hour and 31 minutes, The Future manages to be a daring, brilliant, profound and visionary modern masterpiece. It will go down as a classic.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at the IFC Center.
Released by Roadside Attractions.

Golf in the Kingdom

Directed by Susan Streitfeld

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 5
Opens at the AMC Empire 25.
Released by Golf in the Kingdom LLC.

The Guard

Directed by John Michael McDonagh


Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleason), a small-town Irish cop, joins forces with FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) to hunt down ruthless drug-smugglers in Ireland. Some corrupt members of the local police might be involved in the drug-smuggling, which complicates the investigation even further, and leads Gerry and Wendell into dangerous territory.      

First-time writer/director John Michael McDonagh has a knack for combining drama and suspense with wickedly funny, dark humor. The Guard doesn't take itself too seriously because it pokes a lot of subversive fun at the genre of crime thrillers. McDonagh sets the darkly comical tone very effectively in the opening scene. Gerry is such an atypical cop from the get-go given his irreverent behavior toward authority figures, but, concurrently, he's a goodhearted human being because, after all, he does look after his dying mother (Fionnula Flanagan). Brendan Gleeson hasn't been funnier since In Bruge. If you enjoyed In Bruge, chances are that you'll equally enjoy The Guard. It will leave you in stitches. Admittedly, though, it could use subtitles because, at times, the Irish accents do get too thick and thereby slightly hard to decipher.

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at the Angelika Film Center, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, and AMC Empire 25.
Released by Sony Pictures Classics.

The Harvest

Directed by U. Roberto Romano

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Opens at the Quad Cinema.
Released by Cinema Libre Studio.

House of Boys

Directed by Jean-Claude Schlim

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at the Cinema Village.
Released by Moonstone Entertainment.

Sleep Furiously

Directed by Gideon Koppel

Please check back soon for a full review.
Number of times I checked my watch: 7
Opens at the Cinema Village.
Released by Microcinema International and


Directed by Kang Hyeong-cheol

      Na-mi (Yu Ho-jeong), a successful married woman, bumps into a childhood friend, Choon-Hwa (Jin Hee-kyung) at a hospital. Twenty-five years ago, they were part of a group of seven friends called "Sunny" who rivaled against another group of girls called "Girls Generation." The girls learned how to defend themselves physically and even verbally through cursing. They also becomes such close friends that they vowed to always stay together. Unforeseeable events lead to their eventually break-up as a clique, but now during their adulthood, they meet up to reminisce about old times. Na-mi even goes to the extent of hiring a private investigator to track down the other members of Sunny.

    &Nbsp Writer/director Kang Hyeong-cheol has woven a poignant narrative that's filled with moments of tenderness, humor and warmth. Each of the characters is interesting and well-written instead of mere cardboard cutouts. Sure, there's some outrageous details like that one of the girls dreams of having surgery to get double eyelids and a somewhat cheesy song-and-dance routine that pops up, but they're all amusing ways that the writer/director keeps you entertained. It's also worth mentioning that the flashback sequences work very smoothly without seeming awkward, excessive or abrupt.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Opens at the AMC Empire 25.
Released by CJ Entertainment.

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