Tag Archives: Romance

Bridesmaids not just for the ladies

The ad agency responsible for Bridesmaids‘ promotional material should be fired, because this is not The Hangover for women.  It’s a comedy with heart that will have both men and women cackling with glee. Continue reading

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DVD Tuesday: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Of all the prolific filmmakers that have ever lived, Woody Allen is second only to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He has directed over 40 films since his career began in 1967, and Allen’s fans agree that very few are sub-par. Of course, with any great director, the autumn years tend to show a noticeable decline in quality, and certainly this can be said for Allen. But his newest film, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, may be one of his best. Continue reading

Arvin Chen discusses filmmaking, writing, and New Wave influences for Au Revoir Taipei

After seeing the delightful Au Revoir Taipei at the Edinburgh Film Fest, I had a chance to sit down and talk to the director about romantic comedies, French New Wave influences, and challenges as a writer. Continue reading

“Au Revoir Taipei” is light hearted goodness

Every now and again, it’s really nice to just see a simple, fun movie.  Enter Au Revoir Taipei. Continue reading

“Monsters” leaves audiences in shock and awe

When you start watching films for a living, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” becomes the haunting muzak filling the background of your consciousness.  Films quickly pile up in the mediocre category, with few hitting genius, or even atrocious levels.  When Monsters finished, however, I was covered with goose bumps and wanted nothing more than to sit quietly in the dark to mull it over. It is a film so powerful, fascinating and personal that it is a celluloid definition of why we go to the cinema.

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A Single Man

...although this poster subtly tries to downplay the gay.

...although this poster subtley tries to downplay the gay.

The struggle for political rights during the twentieth century highlighted the parallel importance of representation.  I bring this up because the largest reason a film like A Single Man can even be released is due to the representations of the homosexual community since the 1990’s (thank you Ellen, Gus Van Sant, and reality television).  With Brokeback Mountain five years behind us, something tells me there will not be too many protests over this one.

Colin Firth stars as George Falconer, a professor of English whose boyfriend of sixteen years, Jim, died in a car accident eight months ago.  Kissing Jim’s cold limp lips at the snowy scene of the crash, the film opens with George waking from this bad dream.  A fountain pen lies near his hand, bleeding all over his white bed linens, carrying dream into reality.  Kicking his day off with such melancholy, George surveys himself in the mirror: “Just get through the goddamn day.”

George’s “goddamn day” is punctuated by memories that flood his mind with the suddenness of a thunderclap or are interrupted by moments of serenity: the world floods with color and George basks in the glow of the moment, be it the beauty of a secretary or children playing in a yard.  Nevertheless, the moment always wanes, giving way to George’s default depression.

POSSIBLE SPOILER

The flood of memories and dreamlike moments of serenity are occurring because this is George’s last day on Earth.  Intending to commit suicide at the end of the day, George teaches his class, buys bullets for his revolver, and empties his safety deposit box.  All of his important documents, keys, letters to friends and the suit in which he is to be buried are laid out in meticulous order.  Now for George to do the deed…

POSSIBLE SPOILER OVER

Much has been made of this film not only for Colin Firth’s performance (excellent and subtle), but for the work of director Tom Ford.  Well known as an American fashion designer, Ford’s day job reveals itself in the film’s chic-moderne look and the men George meets during his day (Kenny and Carlos), who were pulled from Derek Zoolander’s School of Ridiculously Good Looking Models.  Don’t get me wrong, Firth is handsome, but Nicholas Hoult (Kenny) and Jon Kortajarena (Carlos) were selected for their eyes and jaw line, not to serve the story.

And here is the film’s major flaw: an over-reliance on aesthetics to drive the story.  Ford’s set design and costumes, though interesting to look at, keep you at arm’s length emotionally.  The music clobbers you and the voice over lacks a solid goal.  If the ridiculously good looking Kenny and Carlos don’t bring a smirk to your face, the film’s conclusion, SPOILER ALERT wherein George decides not to bite a bullet, but immediately dies from a heart attack, should make you laugh since this is the stuff of comic book or The Twilight Zone zingers. SPOILER ALERT OVER

The last film to tackle the death of a loved one using music and visuals to drive the story was Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain.  Though you may not know what the hell is going on during Aronofsky’s meditation (it definitely needs to be watched more than once), his visual and musical aesthetic at least made me feel something.

Imagine this on a proper cinema screen. This is how you engage with visuals.

A Single Man will likely leave the viewer as blasé as George.  Though a good addition to a growing list of films about homosexual relationships, it doesn’t deliver the type of emotional knockout we know lurks beneath George’s surface.