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“In Time” Reaction

In Time, the Justin Timberlake-starring sci-fi/action thriller is a movie with an interesting skeleton and several parts that are interesting on their own, though the movie as a whole never adds up to its parts. It is still a movie worth seeing if for no other reason than to finally see the character Timberlake plays and not think of him as being Justin Timberlake – something he hasn’t been able to do in any of his larger roles in the last two years. I’m not sure I buy him as an action star at this point, but he isn’t unconvincing either.

Here are the things I enjoyed about the movie:

  • Cillian Murphy is awesome in the movie. If there were one thing I wished there had been more background about, it was the history of or deeper detail about the role of the Timekeepers. Much like the fedora-bearing adjusters in The Adjustment Bureau, detail wouldn’t have ruined the mystery here. At any rate, Murphy is a badass and is perfectly cast here.
  • The key to casting Justin Timberlake from this movie forward should be to find a charismatic female sidekick/cohort to work alongside him. Timberlake is interesting enough on his own, but given the chance to work with Mila Kunis and Amanda Seyfried have served him well. A movie mainly comprised of Seyfried and Timberlake pulling bank heists and running around together would have been excellent. Timberlake has found great chemistry with women in strong roles and it creates an enjoyable atmosphere for the audience to be a part of.
  • The idea of the movie is interesting but too often got bogged down in trying to make certain the audience understood that there was no “money” in this world. As an example of the current disparity between the 1% and the 99%, the movie is excellently timed but does not trust the audience at all to put the pieces together. Had there been more pure action in place of exposition, the film could have had a shorter running time and been a tighter overall narrative. I’m certain there is a solid B+ movie in what was filmed, it just got watered down.
The film and the atmosphere it creates is excellent and more than worthy of seeing. The science fiction is fairly light and the action well-dispersed through its running time. There are rarely any stupid, bombastic CGI scenes and it allows the actors to be the ones to bear the weight of the film, which works in its favor, especially with a cast as strong as the one on display here. In the end, a shortened running time would have helped the movie, but there is enough that works, and works well, to keep the film afloat.

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Crazy, Stupid, Love

 

First thing’s first – I think you should see Crazy, Stupid, Love. The movie is not a unique experience and there is one thing about the movie that I really hated, but the movie overcomes both of these things by being full of real emotion, quality performances, atmosphere and subversion. The film does an exceptional job balancing cliche sequences with unexpected moments of poignancy. The characters are relatable and they act in such a way that they resemble actual humans rather than dramatized versions of humans. Crazy, Stupid, Love allows the people and the story to breathe and it ends up being a wholly enjoyable way to spend two hours.

 

The movie explores a common theme of love being lost by one person and found by another. Steve Carell’s Cal is the one losing love in this case. His marriage has fallen apart because over time he became “boring” and his wife (Julianne Moore) slept with another man (Kevin Bacon). The love being found is by Jacob, played by Ryan Gosling, who falls for Hannah (Emma Stone) like no woman he has met before. In between, Cal does not lose touch with his entire being and Jacob never succumbs to a level of loathing that we typically expect from his character-type. What the movie does so well is encourage us to pull for every character in the movie. We understand why Cal’s wife would do what she did, just as Cal understands. We understand why Jacob does the things he does and we understand why Hannah would dump her stooge of a boyfriend (wonderfully played by Josh Groban) and fall for Jacob in the end, just as he does. Carell and Gosling are an exceptional team and the way they grow as friends makes real life sense. That’s what separates this movie from others in the genre.

 

There comes a point late in the movie where Cal is alone at the bar where he first met Jacob. Jacob is seeing his relationship with Hannah grow at the expense of his friendship with Cal. The scene mirrors their first encounter, but this time Cal is the Jacob and there is another schlub at the bar. Early in the movie Jacob tells Cal that he wants to help him because he reminds him of someone. This scene would traditionally go the route of a montage of the growth in Cal and Jacob’s relationship or show Cal taking the schlub under his wing, but it does not do that. Instead, Cal realizes how far he has fallen and begins the process of moving on. It was a moment that had me grinning, knowing that the movie would not play out in a generic way.

 

The subversion is also prevalent in the way that the movie approaches the crush that Cal’s babysitter has on him. Rather than having her make increasingly awkward plays for his affections, her crush plays in the background, bubbling under the surface of her interactions as she tries to make sense of the looming divorce. Though this might be her opportunity to make a play for Cal (and though she does take some inappropriate pictures for Cal that she stashes in her dresser), instead she thinks about the repercussions and goes about her normal day. It’s an arc that is executed superbly and the resolution resonates beautifully. Much like the rest of the movie, there is a momentum that builds without getting out of control, reaches the eventual climax and closes in a way that gives weight to emotion instead of neatly closing storylines.

 

The atmosphere and the color palette of the film stay away from the blown-out, brightly lit schemes of most romantic comedies in favor of a darker, more realistic look. It suits the movie well and kept me involved because of how well the color worked and the framing was exactly what the movie needed. The only glaring fault in the movie is the overuse of music, whether it be soundtrack, score or diegetic. The music seemed to be used to pull heartstrings or set a mood when the film itself did these things well on its own.

 

In the end, the movie plays like a well-paced, light drama more than a romantic comedy. It stays away from the look and feel of the typical romantic comedy and goes unexpected places emotionally and with the story. Ryan Gosling gives a virtuoso performance that will do nothing but see his star continue to rise. Steve Carell and Julianne Moore both do excellent work with everything they’re given and Emma Stone is charming in the limited time she is on screen. It is a film that clearly knew what it wanted to be and how it wanted to differentiate itself from its genre-brethren and it does so in spades. It’s a tremendous two hours of spending time in the lives of these people and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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New Releases 2/1/2011

New releases of note tomorrow, February 1, 2011:

Music

The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

The Civil Wars are a male-female duo crafting lovely indie rock. They have a free download of a live album recorded at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA available at their MySpace. Check it out and keep an ear out for their new album.

 

There is not a whole lot happening on the music side of things. There is a Bob Marley live album from The Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA in 1982 as well as a new album from Christian heavy rockers Red entitled Until We Have Faces.

Movies

Let Me In

The writer-director of Cloverfield helmed this American remake of the swedish novel and eventual movie Let the Right One In.

Never Let Me Go

Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield star in the movie adaptation of the novel The Remains of Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Conviction

This courtroom and family drama stars Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell.

I have not heard or seen any of the releases for this week, though I do intend to see Never Let Me Go and potentially Let Me In.

Anything I missed?

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New Releases 1/25/2011

New releases of note tomorrow, January 25th, 2011:

Music

Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

Sam Beam releases his first full-length record of new material since 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog. Kiss Each Other Clean finds beam moving further from the man (with an immaculate beard) and his guitar simplicity of his early music and more into making use of a full band and some studio effects from time-to-time, most notably autotune and distortion pedals (!!!). Beam’s knack for melody is still intact, now with a more colorful pallet to dance upon. Standout tracks include “Me and Lazarus,” “Big Burned Hand” and “Your Fake Name Is Good Enough.”

 

Cold War Kids – Mine Is Yours

Cold War Kids make good upon the promise of their debut with Mine Is Yours, their third full-length LP. Shifting from recording their record live as a full band, as they did with their first two albums, to recording piece by piece with many takes allows the Cold War Kids to take chances they missed on sophomore slump Loyalty To Loyalty. Though the album lakes the ever-shifting dynamics that peppered their first two releases, the foundation the band builds allows each member to find their pocket in each song and groove in a way that was absent early in their careers. If you found yourself let down with the Kings of Leon’s Come Around Sundown, you’ll find the record they hoped to make with Mine Is Yours. Standout tracks include “Royal Blue,” “Finally Begin” and “Cold Toes On the Cold Floor.”

 

Movies

Red

Though I haven’t yet seen Red, I find myself quite interested to see how the movie is executed. I am most intrigued to see if each of the main castmembers are anything other than the characters they’ve played in every movie ever – Bruce Willis as Mr. Get-Shit-Done, Morgan Freeman as the all-knowing mastermind who has many instances of extended dialogue just to make sure he uses his voice as much as possible, John Malkovich as the wild card who might be a little off his rocker and Helen Mirren as the matriarch and emotional backbone.

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