500 Days of Summer

commentary-500daysofsummer

It’s Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s time to watch a cinematic love story with your special someone. Or, it could mean it’s time to watch a cynical film skewering the concept of love if you’re a single person. Lucky for everyone, there’s a film that can cut both ways. Marc Webb describes his film (500) Days of Summer as “a coming-of-age story masquerading as a love story.” This means the romantic in you can find the love story, and the cynic in you can find the character development. After being a hit at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, (500) Days of Summer went on to become a hit with audiences and critics alike. It struck a chord with people because it was a different approach to a relationship story rather than the standard rom-com. Based in part on one of co-writer Scott Neustadter‘s former relationships, this film gets a commentary treatment by the writers, the director, and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And on to the commentary…

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Culture Warrior

Imagine what some of our most beloved romantic films would look like if they were made in the 21st century. Laura and Alec of David Lean’s Brief Encounter could have managed their secret meetups over text. Harry and Sally could have checked each others’ okcupid accounts before explaining every aspect of what they seek in a partner over a cross-country road trip. And Ilsa would never have had to get on that plane because, y’know, the war’s over. This is a fruitless endeavor, I know, but it brings one thing into light which poses both problems and opportunities for the contemporary romance film, specifically the romantic comedy: politics, economic conditions, shifting gender roles, and technological evolution means different kinds of relationships and, thus, different kinds of romantic movies. How can the 21st century romance film expect the wedding-bell-chiming happy ending to work in a society full of emerging adults who feel less and less of a need to get married? How can new romantic comedies account for the fact that today’s working professional must move constantly – putting all their human relationships at risk – in order to find a job that suits them without only making films about the uber-privileged? Will there ever be a mainstream romantic comedy featuring a non-monogomous or non-heteronormative protagonist? Several recent screen romances have attempted to tackle the changing nature of relationships – or, at least, the type of relationship typically depicted in the Hollywood romance.

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George Clooney may have earned a Best Actor nomination for his work in last year’s The Descendants, but the truly eye-opening performance in that film came not from the king of Hollywood, but from the little known actress playing his teenage daughter. Simply put, Shailene Woodley was the bee’s knees in that film. Her work fleshed out a role that would have played like a cliché of teenage rebellion in most other hands, and she’s going to have quite a few opportunities coming her way in the upcoming year. It’s newsworthy, then, that Variety has word on what her next job is going to be. According to the trade, the actress is attached to star in Smashed (which was reviewed by Allison Loring here) director James Ponsoldt’s next film, which is an adaptation of the Tim Tharp novel “The Spectacular Now.”

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a delightful little sampler of all that is right in the world of movie blogging. Even on a rather slow news day, typical for the day after April Fool’s as sites try to weed out the weekend’s news that wasn’t fake, we can still find plenty of things worth your reading eyes. We begin this evening with a look at Christoph Waltz on the set of Django Unchained, looking quite dapper and if I might say, rocking some wicked facial hair. There’s no way that this goes poorly, of that we can be assured.

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Aural Fixation - Large

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day (which I know came and went two days ago, but I wanted to keep the romance going) I decided to get into the spirit of things by looking not just into romantic movies, but movies that featured romantic moments where music played a big part in the delivery. We all know the moment when the music swells and our two leads finally lean in, run for or jump into that kiss or embrace created to make our hearts swoon. But I’m not talking about those moments. I’m talking about the moments where the music was just as important as anything said or done and it was the music that truly helped bring the romance to the scene (granted most of these moments were usually also paired with two good looking actors making eyes at each other). Grab your leftover chocolate and conversation hearts and join me in watching these love birds sing, dance and profess their love through the magic of music in these movie moments that are as much about the tunes as they are about the love.

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Culture Warrior

The cinematic doppelganger effect seems to happen on a cyclical basis. Every few years, a pair of movies are released whose concepts, narratives, or central conceits are so similar that it’s impossible to envision how both came out of such a complex and expensive system with even the fairest amount of awareness of the other. Deep Impact and Armageddon. Antz and A Bug’s Life. Capote and Infamous. Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Observe and Report. And now two R-rated studio-released romantic comedies about fuck buddies played by young, attractive superstars have graced the silver screen within only a few short months of each other. We typically experience doppelganger cinema with high-concept material, not genre fare. To see two back-to-back movies released about the secret life of anthropomorphic talking insects, a hyperbole-sized rock jettisoning towards Earth’s inevitable destruction, a Truman Capote biopic, or a movie about a mall cop seem rare or deliberately exceptional enough as a single concept to make the existence of two subsequent iterations rather extraordinary. Much has been made of the notion that Friends with Benefits is a doppelganger of No Strings Attached (the former has in more than one case been called the better version of the latter), but when talking about the romantic comedy genre – a category so well-tread and (sometimes for better, sometimes not) reliably formulaic that each film is arguably indebted to numerous predecessors – can we really say these films are doppelgangers in the same vein as the high-concept examples, or […]

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as MrSmith1939 and 2BorNot2B in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two daydream the ultimate reboot – an entire era of filmmaking brought back to life through the lens of modern directors. What styles should we bring back and homage? It is a good idea to let nostalgia drive us artistically? Will people in 30 years be harkening back to the Abramsian style?

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Culture Warrior

Modern romance and the movies are arguably dependant on one another, as movies have a long history of affirming the idea(l) of the perfect relationship. Hollywood movies in particular have developed a mastery at the formula of bringing imperfect individuals together into perfect couplehood and framing marriage as the closure of all previous conflicts and difficulties. Many romance movies, thus, teach us what romance and couplehood are or, perhaps more dauntingly, what it should be. That romantic films are a staple in the box offices of commercial movie theaters to reparatory screenings or are marathon’d on television every Valentine’s Day is evidence of our ritual association of considering real-life romances in fictional terms. It is rare that movies, especially Hollywood, seem to do the opposite: reflect the distinction between ideal romance and the ostensible “reality” of relationships in all their complexity, grittiness, slow development, necessary problems, and (most of all) subtlety. Perhaps the most evident turns cinema makes in this direction is in the break-up movie, that rare narrative that situates itself as a disruption from the normal mode of portraying couplehood through representing its antithesis, the dissolution of a couple. The most recent example is Blue Valentine, the great Cassavetes-style, character-driven psychodrama about a couple who continue making the wrong turns and can’t make it work despite, or because, of themselves. Breakup movies from the light – (500) Days of Summer – to the heavy – Blue Valentine – often self-consciously (either by testament from the filmmaker like in […]

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In this sci-fi romantic comedy, the TiMER will countdown to when you find love. What happens if yours is blank?

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Future filmmakers, if there’s one thing that your quirky indie comedy will need to have any shot at success beyond the snowy streets of Sundance, it is charm.

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Marc Webb has officially been offered the job to take on Spider-Man for three full films. Are you ready for Spider-Man 4: Spider-Man 1? Great. What should it look like, smart guy?

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The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards are upon us. And while they are on live on ABC as of 8/7c, you may not be watching them. That’s okay, as I will updating our list with the winners as they are announced.

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Sony Pictures works fast. Just a day and a half ago, they announced the death of Spider-Man 4. Now we’re getting reports of a new director, and a new format.

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Put simply, it’s going to be a populist kind of year. Once again, the likes of Avatar and Star Trek, along with The Hangover, are hanging around during awards season.

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Some years at the cineplex are just better than others. Which years those are can always be debated, hence the reason why FSR writer Paul Sileo and FSR’s resident devil’s advocate Josh Radde sat on their collective asses to hash out whether or not 2009 was particularly strong or notably weak.

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In the last month of the past decade, we put our readership through the ringer. We unleashed list after list of our favorites of the decade and the year. And if you can suffer through one more round of awesomeness, it will all be over. For now.

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End of the year lists usually come in tens or some sort of multiple of ten but here, as you will see, there are only seven slots. No, I’m not purposely trying to be subversive, nor was this result of laziness, and I assure you that it wasn’t an attempt to gyp you out of those bottom three slots. There just weren’t ten great, unequivocally funny comedies released this year.

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Perhaps one of the greatest honors, yet most difficult tasks of my year is the creation of my annual top ten list. As this site’s editor in chief (or whatever title suits me this week), I get to kick-off our Year in Review every year with my picks for best of the year.

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Rob Hunter recalls a year of marketing with 15 of the most exciting slices of cinema to hit big screens this year. The best trailers.

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bluray-header

It is the week of Christmas, and we’re gathering up gift recommendations (for ourselves, of course) in This Week in Blu-ray. If any of you need to get something for your favorite Blu-ray columnist on the web, there are two great titles below in the ‘Buy’ category that I would love to receive.

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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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