The Break Up

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The highly anticipated film, The Break Up, was not highly anticipated by me, and I after watching, I realized that my first instincts existed for a reason. The Break Up stars Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, two actors who are currently dating in real life, so the masses assumed that by watching this film, they would be able to catch a glimpse of their real life, off camera relationship. I was already turned off by the shallow grounds this movie's hype was based off of, and it was for this reason that it took me so long to watch. I found that I really didn't miss much from waiting.

This movie had so much potential, but it was ruined by a confused tone and an inappropriate placement of humor. As its title reveals, The Break Up is about a break up. Brooke and Gary's relationship is presented in a clean nutshell, also known as a three minute montage of photographs taken during the happier moments of their relationship, at the beginning of the film. The story then continues into a generic fight that is almost always depicted in any primetime, family sitcom. Brooke and Gary have both worked a full day. Brooke comes home and starts to clean and cook for dinner guests that are about to arrive. Garry comes home and automatically turns on the TV. Brooke gets upset because he isn't helping her, but instead of explaining what the true reason for her frustration is (she feels unappreciated and unsupported), she nags him about how he is lazy, incompetent, and selfish. All he hears is her anal retentive, bossiness. They break up.

Because they own a condo together, both refuse to give in and move out. The movie attempts to add a comical flair to the given situation. In the beginning, both actually do not want to break up, but actually say anything. They do everything in their power to annoy each other, and the whole time, I'm sitting there saying, "Are you people two years old?!" Both are passive aggressive and cause each other frustration through situations that are normal enough to be true but are twisted to become so absurd that its humor is lost.

The only salvation for this movie was its ending, and it was then that I realized that the writers were just confused with how they wanted this story told. At first glance, the movie acts as a comedy, but it was really meant to be a drama. The tone begins seriously and ends seriously. It's the middle, 'comical' parts that confuse because you're sitting there watching Brooke's flaming gay brother bring his acapella group to their apartment for rehearsal early in the morning to wake up Gary from his hangover and ask yourself "Why is this necessary?" It isn't. Its purpose is only to show how bitter and passive aggressive break ups make people act. The kind of humor presented was inappropriate for kind of story the writers were trying to tell.

Breaks ups begin with a fight, continue into a brewing bitterness and resentment, and usually end with a civil respect for one another, and The Break Up captures all of these aspects, making it a bearable film. However, it fails to portray these aspects in polished, well thought out script, and for these reasons, this film fails in my eyes. Break ups are bad, and this one sucked.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:58 AM 0 comments  

The Puffy Chair

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Now, I am always a sucker for indie films, but I must say that this movie was a disappointment. Luckily, I didn't waste the entire 2 hours of my life, as I decided to turn the movie off when one of the brothers decided he was going to marry a woman he had just met 4 hours before.

According to Netflix, The Puffy Chair is about this: "When Josh (Mark Duplass, whose brother Jay directs) finds the perfect birthday present for his father, he decides to deliver it in person. But with his high-maintenance girlfriend Emily (Kathryn Aselton) and granola brother Rhett (Rhett Wilkins) along for the ride, Josh's simple road trip turns into a much bigger journey than anyone anticipated."

The downfall of this film was the protagonist. I just could not relate to him. Don't get me wrong. I don't have to relate to all protagonists in order to enjoy a film, but I do have to feel something for him/her. This guy had no emotion. When his girlfriend yanked the tablecloth and all the dishes that were on it to the floor in a fit of rage, Josh just sits there. His words seem dumbstruck, but his face doesn't. When he tries to cheat the motel owner out of her ten dollars, all I could think of was "what a bastard" and "what a slim ball." When he decides to look for dirt on the puffy chair salesman rather than confront him about the matter, all I could think was "coward" and "idiot." There are characters that you are suppose to love to hate, but Josh is not even close. His character is someone whose existence is so aggravating that you can't even appreciate some of the better scenes because he's made you irritated. Could it be the acting or the writing? Both? Anything is possible.

Shot mostly with a handheld camera, this film tries to simulate reality with its cinema verite shots. It thinks that making the film look like a documentary will make it look artsy and professional. All it really accomplishes is making the 'comedic scenes' look dumb and the emotional scenes bland. This film is one with The Simple Life, scripted fiction that attempts to pass as a commentary on real life.

Sorry Duplass brothers, your omage to Say Anything did not win me over. Next time, try to not be consumed with indie film cliches, then maybe we'll talk.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:51 AM 0 comments  

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Monday, November 13, 2006


Ferris Bueller is the kind of guy that everyone loves. When he decides to take a day off from school, at least one person from every clique in high school calls him up from the lone school pay phone (you remember that high school pay phone right?) to find out if he's okay. Now that is ultimate popularity. Not only does Ferris have a well-rounded following in high school, but the entire community as well as the viewer seem to fall for Ferris' charisma and charm. "[Ferris,] how did you get to be so sweet?" "Years of practice," Ferris answers.

Today I feel like crap, but I'm at work counting down the minutes to 2pm when our Staff Meeting starts so that I can go in, do my presentation, and go home and sleep. Yet, I can't help but wonder how sick I really am. Is it all in my head? I'm doped up on Dayquil, you'd think that I'd be feeling great by now. Am I just sick of work? Could be, and its only Monday! Oh the humanity . . . . 60 more minutes. If today were Saturday and we were all on our way to an amusement park, would I be feeling this crummy? I wonder . . .

Either way, I know what Ferris would do. Ironicially, he's totally up front and honest with himself about his sickness. He knows that he's lying (Is this a paradox? No, its the Dayquil). He knows that he's cheating the system. I, on the other hand, could by lying to myself. My sneaky brain could be telling my body "No, I don't want to be here, so feel crappy Body! Feel crappy! Jenn won't know the difference!" Apparently, my brain knows that I'm not cool like Ferris Bueller.

On Ferris' day off, he did all sorts of fantastic things. How many of us do that many fantastic things on a day that we legitimately have off? I wouldn't haven't woken up until noon, but Ferris wakes up, showers and shaves, plays his keyboard, makes a few phone calls, picks up his best friend, picks up his girlfriend, drives to NY, takes in a museum, eats at a restaurant, sings in a parade, goes swimming, crashes his best friends car, and runs home all before his parents get home from work. What a guy.

The reason this movie succeeds in capturing audience's attention year after year is because of Ferris' endearing qualities. He is the kind of person we all wish we could be. Daring, sweet, innocent, cunning, and charming. Ferris' best friend, Cameron, wishes it. The audience wishes it. Ferris takes the simple idea of a sick day and transforms it into a fantastic adventure. The options are endless.

So the question is, should I be more like Ferris? Yes! . . . but mind over matter, and my sneaky brain is still booby trapping my body to believe that I really am sick . . . so sick I am. Another day Ferris, another day!

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 12:55 PM 0 comments  

The Illusionist

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I don't understand why people insist on comparing The Illusionist with The Prestige. Yes, both films are about magicians, and yes, both endings have some sort of 'twist' involved; however as far a basis for comparison, that's about it.

The Illusionist, at its core, is about love. Actually, its about the purest kind of love, childhood love. As a working class young boy, Eisenheim, played by Edward Norton, fell in love with aristocrat, Sophie in early 20th century Vienna. They are of course separated, and Eisenheim goes off to become a great illusionist. Sophie and Eisenheim are reunited as adults, but Sophie is engaged to Prince Leopold. It doesn't help that Leopold's tragic flaw is rationalism, and decides that its his purpose in life to prove to everyone that illusions are child's play. In a little boy attempt to prove whose is bigger, Leopold attempts to unravel Eisenheim's illusions with no luck. This only makes him more aggravated. Imagine what happened when he found out Sophie was leaving him for Eisenheim, the bane of Leopold's existence.

Now this movie may sound like every other romance you've seen, but one of the reasons why this film is so good is because you aren't even aware that you are watching a romance film until you consciously think about placing it in a genre.

But not only is the story wonderful, but the visual 'effects' are gracefully artistic. Out of focus starts to scenes, a rather sexy montage of Sophie and Eisneheims' reacquaintence, and a beautiful tinge of sepia really make the film.

The Illusionist has the perfect balance of suspense and goodies, but I can't forget to mention that 'the twist' makes the movie even better!

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:51 AM 0 comments  

The Prestige

Saturday, November 04, 2006


A film about an obsessive competition between two rival magicians, The Prestige took me for an awfully disturbing ride. I must warn all animal lovers out there that there is some gruesome scenes involving canaries and doves.

The film begins at the end. Alfred Borden is arrested for the murder of Robert Angier, and we see the so called murder take place. Except we only see Borden as a witness to Angier's death, so there is still reason to question what actually happened that night. The story progresses via flashback within flashback of Angier's mentor, Cutter, and then a separate flashback of Angier within Cutter's flashback. By choosing to tell the story this way, the plot's execution parallels the madness that you see in these magicians. "Are you watching carefully?" Borden's challenge to his in-film audience becomes a challenge for the sutured, real audience as well.

A good movie is only achieved through a good story, and although I wouldn't say that The Prestige has a fantastic story, it had an adequate one. But what it lacked in story quality it made up for in complex, well thought out themes and motifs, and this is what I loved about the film. Secrets, guise, and performance, three themes that are blatantly obvious on a superficial level, but are actually entwined within every second of the picture. Because of this, The Prestige has quality written all over it.

********SPIOLER WARNING************
Once I got over the fact that Hugh Jackman kills himself over and over again,'part' Christian Bale dies, and the irony of how both/parts of both choose to die, this movie kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. The Prestige is one of those movies that keep you alert in the hope that you'll find some clue or hint about 'the reveal', and boy is it morbid and disturbing!

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 4:01 PM 0 comments  

The Graduate

Friday, November 03, 2006


In college I had this really great film instructor who once showed us a film clip of The Graduate as an example of a film montage. As a side note, his exact words were "watch this when you graduate, and you'll cry like a freaking baby." Apparently that was from his own personal experience.

I did watch that movie, but it was during my senior year. If I had waited just one more year to watch that movie, would I have cried? I think I would have.

What comes to mind now in my post graduated brain, is the montage of Dustin Hoffman, his unfulfilled life, and his affair with Mrs. Robinson. This montage is so meticulously planned that Benjamin is transported into the next scene. It is so effortless and so precise that the viewer can feel how empty Benjamin's life is. The gaps of time that are omitted really tell us that those gaps weren't worth seeing anyway. Nothing is happening to Ben, so Ben keeps waking up every day, having an elicit affair with Mrs. Robinson. He's not even trying to figure out what to do with himself. Each day blends into another; Ben jumps out of the pool, but it becomes Ben jumping onto Mrs. Robinson. Ben sits in a chair, and it becomes him sitting on a bed. In this montage, he's just a zombie walking through time, and that is what it is to be a graduate.

There is a point after graduating from college that you are basically going no where. You just wake up and live each day. Your next goals are so far away that you may not even know what they are anymore. When people ask you what you've been up to these past couple weeks/months, you can't remember anything. Its all a blur.

The Graduate really captures the feelings of post graduation; the depression and the indifference. Thankfully I didn't have to re-experience them when I experienced the film.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 10:53 AM 0 comments