500 (is possibly too many) Days Of Summer

July 28, 2009 § Leave a comment

Levitt & Deschanel doing a literal translation of a bit of dialogue in their new film (500) Days Of Summer, a flawed Romance-Comedy that I'd say is good despite some gaping flaws.

Deschanel & Levitt doing a literal translation of a bit of dialogue in their new film (500) Days Of Summer, a flawed Romance-Comedy that I'd say is good despite some gaping flaws.

The PR machines for small quasi-indie films really need to calm the fuck down, because I really don’t see how (500) Days Of Summer could have been the darling of any film festival, much less Sundance. It’s cute and quaint, and much more aware of itself than comparable films (Garden State), but it does not reinvent anything. It’s more of a retelling of a guilty pleasure television series of mine, in that it’s original title was How I Met Your Mother: The Movie.

Flaws aside, it is -for the most part- nice, and enjoyable. The romance-on-shuffle structure works about as well as it could have, jumping from day 15 to day 359 and then back to day 25, to show how an specific momentary emotion lives and dies, and letting you focus on the story despite the fact that the never-seen-narrator has already clued you in on an unhappy ending. When Levitt hits rock bottom, it’s well handled and really funny. The movie handles the grungy broken-up-with guy angle very well for a scene when the deli clerk must be wondering if he needs to get the kid in touch with a life coach. When he’s really happy, it’s handled in a comically-unbelievable tone that connects perfectly. Even the subtle touches for that scene, that everyone is wearing blue or off blue, work much better than they should.

Summer’s failings hurt all the more because of their proximity to the film’s successes. The script is a hodge-podge of the best and worst of recent romantic comedies, the omniscient narrator who seems to only appear as a narrative crutch when the script’s kneecaps are breaking, and an all too precocious little sister that smacks of every Abigail Breslin role rolled into one, and played by a talented young actress who bears such a resemblance that you expect her to have been the stunt-double in Little Miss Sunshine’s running-to-the-van-that-can’t-stop scene.

The movie’s largest blunder comes when the movie tries to cash in the good will it’s built up. The film downright drowns in the typical in-meeting-breakdown that we’ve all seen in movies, and the scene where absolutely nothing original is brought to the table. For a movie so proud of itself, this scene needs to have a few belly laughs in it, and it’s about as funny as watching Patch Adams sober.

When the movie succeeds, though, it’s thanks in part to an inventive touch that was all too sparing. One scene does a split screen showing how expectations and reality are only divided by a grand, gaping, Springfield Gorge-like chasm that Levitt’s character falls into. This reminded me slightly of when Harold (he of Kumar, White Castle, and Guantanamo Bay) dreams of having a very casual conversation with the girl of his dreams, rather than the muted stumbling non-conversation they have moments later. This, though, had more impact with the audience and was one of the better split screen moments in recent memory.

Ms. Deschanel does her best with the underwritten role of Summer. When the film does decide to let him realize that she hasn’t been as perfect as his obsession with her led him to believe, it’s anticlimactic to the audience, because we’ve been able to see it all along. Someone should have realized that there’s not much reward in the Shamalanian reveal that She’s Been Flaky All Along! The camera adores Ms. Deschanel for about 80% of the film, while the script has only been showering her with adoration for half that time. She’s just as strong a talent as she was playing the-sister-turned-flight-attendant in Almost Famous, and her time in folk duo She & Him doesn’t seem to have distracted her from acting, yet her under written character undermines anything she could do as an actress.

Her character really wears thin with the scene I’ll call, And Here Comes The Quaint. When Summer invites Levitt’s character, whose name nobody will remember, into her apartment, the movie grinds to a halt as with this small space that belies a set designer run amok and a director who should have known to cut down on the schmaltz. You know what really takes away from a character? When their apartment is more furnished than their personality. She loves Ringo Starr and doesn’t really know much about architecture, and … she likes Ringo Starr. One wonders what was cut as we all can tell what should have ended up on the cutting-room floor of forced quirk.

Despite these scenes, though, I enjoyed the movie more than I disliked it. It shares the major flaw of Public Enemies, though: a script obviously undercooked. I didn’t review Mann’s latest here, but I’ll use this opportunity to explain it’s flaw: both films smack of The Writer’s Strike. Studios must have been wondering what scripts they already had, yet had not produced. Then they made the films and had less access to writers for revamping the rough edges. What the movie-going public receives, now, though in exchange for their $12.50 are unfinished are movies that are nice and have a good flow that turns rocky on occasion thanks to script detritus gone uncleared.

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Cap and Trade makes for Bewildering Political Bedfellows

July 14, 2009 § Leave a comment

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Matt Taibbi. He’s basically every young liberal firebrand’s journalistic idol at the moment, burning down everything in opus level pieces published in Rolling Stone and online at True/Slant.

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Sarah Palin. The number one reason that McCain’s campaign acted like the economy cratered, that is, aside from age, the legacy of George W. Bush whom McCain awkwardly hugged on stage once, and Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois and for the Democrats,

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the Luke Skywalker of the 21st century.

Cap and Trade. Wait, what? You might not know what Cap and Trade is, and ISo to demonstrate the awkward crossroad we find ourselves at now, here’s how each of the above persons, person because human is too generous to Palin, define Cap and Trade:

Taibbi:

Here’s how it works: If the bill passes, there will be limits for coal plants, utilities, natural-gas distributors and numerous other industries on the amount of carbon emissions (a.k.a. greenhouse gases) they can produce per year. If the companies go over their allotment, they will be able to buy “allocations” or credits from other companies that have managed to produce fewer emissions. President Obama conservatively estimates that about $646 billion worth of carbon credits will be auctioned in the first seven years; one of his top economic aides speculates that the real number might be twice or even three times that amount.

from “The Great American Bubble,” in Rolling Stone #1082-1083, which hit news stands a little under three weeks ago.

And now, for Sarah Palin’s defintion of Cap and Trade, from her op-ed in the Washington Post:

Well, she doesn’t actually define it. She just decries what in fact she doesn’t like about it:

Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.

In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.

Which she doesn’t prove with anything whatsoever, and Tim Fernholz over at The American Prospect does a good job taking those brainless sentences behind the woodshed. That’s what you get, though, when you try and read an article about a bill that has, despite horrible chicanery in the fine print, a goal of putting a stop to greenhouse gasses, written by Miss Drill Baby, Drill 2008.

Taibbi’s rightfully angry because of Cap and Trade’s potential to be the economic bubble that blew up what’s left of America after the housing crisis:

Well, you might say, who cares? If cap-and-trade succeeds, won’t we all be saved from the catastrophe of global warming? Maybe — but capandtrade, as envisioned by Goldman, is really just a carbon tax structured so that private interests collect the revenues. Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make, cap-and-trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private taxcollection scheme. This is worse than the bailout: It allows the bank to seize taxpayer money before it’s even collected.

I’d like to commend Taibbi for not just writing a brilliant incredibly well informed piece, but giving bloggers like me the above graf to quote. But it’s amazing how Palin finds the exact wrong reason to hate on Cap and Trade:

In Alaska, we are progressing on the largest private-sector energy project in history. Our 3,000-mile natural gas pipeline will transport hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of our clean natural gas to hungry markets across America. We can safely drill for U.S. oil offshore and in a tiny, 2,000-acre corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if ever given the go-ahead by Washington bureaucrats.

Yep, of course I hinted at her lack-of-mindset above when I brought up “Drill Baby, Drill!” the catchphrase that scared able-minded Americans almost as much as Palin herself did during that bizarre first week when she was brought out and everyone, myself included, just went ape. Her answer is to fuck with ANWR. Sarah Palin is so stubbon about Oil you kinda understand the blockheadishness in her family. She doesn’t think we need to protect the environment and Bristol doesn’t think she needs protection. Yep, I saved the layups for the end.

But why pile on and continue the almost year old liberal tradition of shitting on the soon to be former governor of Alaska?

A) I’ve got a full time job and don’t have the time to investigate the hard stuff or learn the trickier stuff, and

B) it’s funny. This was her first topic in months not named Sarah Palin or David Letterman to try and opine on, and she continues to sputter around like McCain’s fighter plane.

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