The Notebook

“Just keep your hands on my face in the rain.” To say that movies that started their lives as Nicholas Sparks novels have a well-established style when it comes to their content and aesthetics would be maybe about the biggest understatement of the year. Take two impossibly attractive young people, add some tragic reason they can’t be together, cut it with a love that will conquer all, and pretty much you’ve got the formula—so long as your drama is occurring in an idyllic, rural setting. It gets to the point where every time a new Nicholas Sparks movie starts getting advertised, people can tell that’s exactly what they’re looking at from the first few seconds of the first trailer, and their responses are downright Pavlovian. Not into the Nicholas Sparks thing? Bet you let out an involuntary groan. Love everything the man does? Then it’s the same deal, but with a squeal. Chances are, if you or someone you love is one of the aforementioned squealers, then you’re going to be watching at least one of those movies tonight, seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing for the groaners though, because Bryce Dallas Howard and Funny or Die have teamed up to make a mock trailer that spoofs the whole Nicholas Sparks thing, so now when you’re sitting through Safe Haven for the hundredth time you can think back to just how spot-on they got all of the parody and smirk smugly to […]

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IntroCasting

There are a million and a half uninteresting reasons why actors did and did not get certain parts. Usually the casting process is fickle – hell-bent on height and age, sometimes people are rejected just because they don’t seem right for the part. An agent gives someone a script, they like it, contracts are signed. It’s all pretty anticlimactic, which is what makes the following casting stories far more fun.

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Nicholas Sparks Evil

Nicholas Sparks is really good at killing people. No one is safe in his books and the movies made from them. In fact, if you’ve gotten close to any of the characters, it’s a fair chance that they will develop a terminal illness, reveal that they’ve been hiding a terminal illness or be struck with a terminal disease called drowning. Sparks is an angry god, and he shuffles off mortal coils aplenty in order to pretend that he writes Greek tragedy and tug despotically at heartstrings. The murdering mastermind has struck again with Safe Haven, capitalizing on the fact that people love crying violently at movies on Valentine’s Day, and like many have done before with Freddy, Jason and Leatherface, it seems only appropriate that we tally up all the bodies lying at Sparks’ feet. Maybe someone can even make a memorial video set to Sarah McLachlan or something. As expected, Spoilers for all Sparks movies abound.

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Culture Warrior

A few weeks ago, as the indie group Here We Go Magic traveled through Ohio, they encountered a tall, skinny hitchhiker who they quickly recognized to be the inimitable filmmaker/public personality/pencil-thin mustache enthusiast John Waters. The band members took pictures of themselves with Waters and sent them out to the twittersphere. John Waters’s presence in their van did not transform into a difficult-to-believe apocryphal story between friends over drinks, nor did it grow into the stuff of urban legend, but instead became a certified true web event simultaneous to the band’s immediate experience of it. For any fan of the ever-captivating and unique Waters, this unlikely scenario which was still somehow consistent with Waters’s personality was truly bizarre, interesting, funny, and perhaps even enviable. But Mr. Waters’s is simply the most recent in a string of out-of-the-ordinary celebrity encounters. Celebrity has changed greatly over the past few decades. Whereas stars of film, television, and popular music formerly dominated the imaginations of their public through their creative output and carefully orchestrated public personae (through interviews, red carpet appearances, etc.), today’s celebrities are characterized more by their public personae than any output to warrant it. The Kardashians, the Hiltons, and the VH1 reality stars of the world are simply famous for being famous (or, more accurately, for being born into incredible wealth). There is no longer a sense that one earns fame through creating something or contributing to culture.

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Over Under - Large

Today is Valentine’s Day, and a big part of what that entails is time spent thinking about the one you adore. And, for me, it means thinking about romantic movies. So what has happened is I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on my current mancrush Ryan Gosling, what films he’s done that explore the concepts of love and romance, and how I feel about each of them. And surprise, surprise, a column idea sprung forth. Today I’ll be looking at The Notebook, a film that a lot of people respond to very strongly, a film that most every girl you know loves, and a film that’s an instant panty dropper when thrown into casual conversations with hormonal coeds. Also, I’ll be looking at Lars and the Real Girl, a movie that’s well regarded among the people that have seen it, but that was too strange for many moviegoers to take a chance on, or for any mainstream award shows to champion. And also, it’s a movie that can mean instant death if you try to explain it to a girl in a bar.

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Reel Sex

As we approach Valentine’s Day (yes, it’s just a few weeks away) I think it’s only fitting that the topic of romance come into play in anticipation of the day meant to celebrate all things feelings. I’m not sure about you, but I have actually never celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one not related to me. Instead I spend the day (or week) loading up on conversational hearts, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, and a collection of melodramas so depressing I become skeptical that love can actually end in anything but death. Regardless of my tendency to eat my feelings while crying over the tragic love found in Douglas Sirk films, I do enjoy happy love stories and tend to pair the sadder movies with some of my must-have romances. In honor of the big V-Day, I’d like to share my favorite 14 romantic scenes and also open it up the floor to hear your suggestions. Today is my bottom seven romantic scenes, and next week we’ll post the remainder. I like to keep you all on tenterhooks.

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I think it is safe to say we have all struggled with the blurring of reality and fantasy in our romantic lives. Film, while marvelous, often leaves us starry-eyed and convinced love will find us regardless of who we are or what we do. That is its biggest gift to audiences, and one of the reasons people line theaters to watch even the most offensive of Katherine Heigl offerings. Decades of studying romantic gestures in film, however, has left me a little touchy about the real life application of such moves. While we might find Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) absolutely adorable when he’s proving his endurance by bravely holding a virginity theme song blasting boom box over his head outside his ex-lover Diane’s (Ione Skye) window in Say Anything, he’s actually more crazy than not. The truth of the matter is that if some man stood below our window blaring music at six in the morning, someone might get shot. (Full disclosure: I’m from Texas, y’all). It’s sweet and silently exaggerates his devotion to Diane, and leaves the girls in the audience swooning and the boys thinking they could be so suave. But in the real world, Llyod is very pathetic and arguably a little stalkery. Lucky for him, Diane likes that about him the most and races down to take him back, wearing nothing but her nightgown and personality.

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My guess is Zack Snyder is a pretty kinky dude. 300 and Watchmen were dripping with over-the-top sexuality and you know somewhere on the cutting room floor of Legend of the Guardians is a steamy owl mating scene, but it wasn’t until the trailer for Sucker Punch collectively melted our brains with sensory overload that we realized Snyder was into some crazy, whacked out stuff. School girls, burlesque dancing, samurai Swords, copious amounts of leather — was this a Hollywood blockbuster or a feature-length Suicide Girls video? Few people have seen the finished film, but if anything is to be assumed, it’s that Snyder made the movie he wanted to make — and that’s cool. That abashed commitment to personal taste makes Sucker Punch unique…and, perhaps, borderline fetishistic. Here are seven other films that we imagine were crafted with that same burning, unconventional passion:

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Dear John never strikes the right balance between a Nicholas Sparks movie and a Lasse Hallström movie.

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time-travelers-wife-header

We hate being manipulated and manipulation is all ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ has to offer.

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I thought I’d compile a list of life ruining films. In other words, films that have ruined lives in the same way that World of Warcraft has.

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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