One Day (2011)

One Day
Director: Lone Scherfig
Writer: David Nicholls
Based on: David Nichollsnovel
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Anne Hathaway, Patricia Clarkson, Jodie Whittaker, Romola Garai, Ken Stott, Matt Berry

Plot:
Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) meet on the day of their graduation. Despite a sligth awkwardness in the beginning, they develop a deep friendship. The film chronicles their relationship by showing the both of them on one day in the year for the next 20 years, through highs and lows.

One Day is a nice chick flick, with enough kitsch to work but not too much to make you gag. Plus, it has a nice soundtrack. But it doesn’t really stand out from the mass of competitors.

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Friends with Benefits (2011)

Friends with Benefits
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman, Bryan Greenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone

Plot:
Dylan (Justin Timberlake) gets headhunted by Jamie (Mila Kunis) and moves from Los Angeles to New York. They get along well and quickly become very good friends. But both are pretty unlucky when it comes to romantic relationships – so one day they decide to hook up with each other. Strictly without any romantic entanglement, of course. But will that really work?

Friends with Benefits is a charming and fun film. Will it be a contender for cinematic masterpiece? No. But nevertheless it’s a very nice piece of entertainment.

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Easy A (2010)

Easy A is Will Gluck‘s newest film, starring Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Malcolm McDowell, Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow.

Plot:
Olive (Emma Stone) is a good student, though not a particularly popular one. But when a rumor is started that she sleeps around, it puts a quick end to her going unnoticed. Olive gets into a catfight with the religious do-gooder Marianne (Amanda Bynes), poses as a sex partner for various guys (who are gay or unpopular) and causes general mayhem at her school.

Easy A is a thoroughly enjoyable film. Though I expected a little more than it actually was, I had a good time watching and it makes for a nice evening’s entertainment.

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Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island is the newest movie by Martin Scorsese, based on the book by Dennis Lehane and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson and Jackie Earle Haley.

Plot:
US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) are called to Shutter Island, a mental institution to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young woman (Emily Mortimer). As soon as they reach the island, a storm hits and they are prevented from leaving. Haunted by his own ghosts from the past, Teddy soon discovers that things are not what they seem on Shutter Island.

While the story is mostly good and Scorsese delivers fine work, the movie hinges on Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. And boy, does he ever deliver… It was terrific to watch.

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona is Woody Allen‘s newest movie.

A slight disclaimer before I start: I’m a fan of his early work, but his latest movies sucked so much that I shouldn’t have bothered to watch them. Yet, somehow, I can’t leave it be. So, if you can’t stand bitter comments about Match Point or Cassandra’s Dream (my review here), better not read this.

Anyhoo, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is okay, I guess. It definitely isn’t as abysmal as the aforementioned movies. But it’s not very good, either.

Plot: Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are best friends and decide to go to Barcelona together. Both girls are complete opposites – Vicky is the practical, calm, rational stereotype, whose life seems happy, but actually, she’s very unhappy because there’s no passion in it, while Cristina is the impulsive, fickle artist-stereotype, who goes from one relationship to the next, never actually being able to stay anywhere for long. When they meet the painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), who barely escapes the fate of being a complete stereotype himself, both fall for him. Which of course can’t end well, especially since Juan Antonio’s manic-depressive artist cliché ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) is still very present in his life.

vicky_cristina_barcelonaIf I was Rebecca Hall, I would be very angry about this marketing – she’s more of a main character than Penelope Cruz.

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Very Sad and Very Beautiful

Elegy is a film by Isabel Coixet, who brought us The Secret Life of Words two years ago, so it was not surprising for me that Elegy was really good. It is based on the novel The Dying Animal by Philip Roth (actually the third novel in a series revolving around David Kepesh), though I like Elegy as a title better.

The story is about aging professor David Kepesh (Ben Kingsley), who lives from fling to fling with his students, after a rather painful divorce 30 odd years ago. In one of his lectures he meets Consuela Castillo (Penélope Cruz), with whom he begins an affair. Despite of the warnings from his best friend, George O’Hearn (Dennis Hopper), David falls in love with Consuela, but can’t really change his ways. For example, he continues to see Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson), his fuck buddy. At the same time, the worn and difficult relationship he has with his son Kenneth (Peter Sarsgaard) gets tested in new ways.

As mentioned before, the movie is really very good. And it was so nice to see Ben Kingsley act again. I mean, really act, as in playing a believable character. Altogether, the acting was perfect, especially Patricia Clarkson, and more surprisingly Dennis Hopper.

The story is sad, there’s not much of a consolation to be had, anywhere. Which is why I think that Elegy is the better title (if the book is similar to the movie, which I don’t know, because I haven’t read it yet). It’s also hopelessly romantic, but in a very realistic way.

It definitely made me want to read the book, because of the wonderful narrative passages (which I think are direct quotes). And that’s always a good sign.