Review: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

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I didn’t anticipate that it would take me this long to see Silver Linings Playbook (2012)!  I meant to see it when it was released in theaters, however, other things got in the way.  In the meantime, I had heard some good things about it, and some not so good things.  So when I finally watched this movie, I tried to clear all that out of my head so that I could form my own opinion… with only a little bit of bias I suppose.

246_SLP-09226[1]--621x414Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a mental institution and moves back in with his parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver).  His goals include getting his old job back, reconciling and reconnecting with his ex-wife, and trying to find the “silver linings” in his life.  This proves tough, however, as he is also trying to deal with his bipolar disorder.  When he meets a girl named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), they form a friendship that ends up helping one another in more ways than they imagined.

Fun fact about Silver Linings Playbook: if you ever wanted to know what my hometown of Upper Darby looked like, all you would have to do is watch this movie because it was filmed there!  I remember all the hype going on during the making of this movie, and how annoying it could get (thank you strange movie person for the directions, I had no idea how to maneuver around the town I’ve lived in my entire life).  However, it was really cool seeing some familiar places featured in the film like the Llanerch Diner, Prendie, and the Lansdowne Theater.

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Back to the film… I didn’t really know what to expect from it.  It seemed like it was marketed as a rom-com but watching it, it definitely didn’t feel that way even with the romance factor present.  It was so much more than that.  The film is basically about people trying to deal with their mental illness, and life in general.  It’s crazy at times, as well as heartbreaking.  There was a bit of a cynical tone to the movie, which I appreciated because I can be quite a cynical person, however it was balanced out nicely with the positive message that is portrayed- there is always a silver lining, you just have to find it.  It may take time, but if you try to be positive and let go of all the negativity that life throws at you, you’ll be able to attain it.

silver-linings-playbook-review3Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence were great in this film.  Cooper’s always been one of those actors who played that douche bag in that one movie, so it was nice seeing him take on a more serious role; and boy did he nail it!  Lawrence is one of Hollywood’s best young actresses at the moment and she does a fine job next to Cooper, which earned her a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.  The supporting cast also does a great job and really helped tie the movie together.

If you go into Silver Linings Playbook with the idea that it’s some generic romantic comedy, then you’re dead wrong.  The film deals with mental illness, and real emotions that people go through, while reminding us that we’re all kind of “off our rockers” in some way.  It’s a film about seeing the positive in seemingly impossible situations.

Review: Argo (2012)

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In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries took over the US Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage.  Six Americans managed to escape from the embassy and found refuge at the Canadian ambassador’s residence in Iran.  The CIA was then given the order to get them out of the country.

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Enter Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) who comes up with the idea to create a fake sci-fi film, enters the country, and creates the illusion that he and the six American diplomats (posing as Canadians) are scouting locations for their movie.  The idea is crazy and extremely risky, and the film leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat, tense, and praying that everything works out in the end, only to have you sighing in relief once they are up in the air and officially out of Iranian territory.

I was extremely impressed with Ben Affleck.  He did a great job directing this film.  The story alone, the actual true story, is incredible, and I really enjoyed how the film turned out.  I could almost picture myself with them and feel how nervous, tense, and frightened the characters were.

argo-affleck-directI also really enjoyed Alan Arkin’s character.  In almost every scene that he was in, he got a few laughs out of me.  He was a good comic relief in an intense story.

The film had an authentic 70s feel to it, which I found to be a relief.  You see a lot of movies that are supposed to be set in the 60s or 70s etc. that fail to pull off the authenticity of the time period.  However, Argo pull it off quite nicely.

During the credits, they show pictures of the real people escaped from Iran alongside the actors that played them.  Not only was it interesting to see actual documented photographs from the event, it was interesting to see how they made the actors look almost identical to their real life counterpart.

So far, Argo has won two Golden Globes and is nominated for seven Academy Awards.  It’s been doing very well, as far as other awards go, and deservedly so.

It’s a great movie with a great story that keeps you tense from the beginning until the end.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Argo for winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards!

Review: The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong?  Have you ever felt like an outcast?  Of course you have, who hasn’t?  But it’s stories like The Perks of Being A Wallflower that really allow us to admit these things to ourselves, which isn’t easy to do.

I remember reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky for the first time a couple of years ago.  It was a very touching coming-of-age story about an introverted boy named Charlie who is trying to cope with the suicide of his best friend when he enters his freshman year of high school.  Throughout the book, he writes a series of letters to an unknown person as a coping mechanism.  He’s taken under the wing of two seniors, stepsiblings Patrick and Sam, and experiences drugs, alcohol, first love, first dates, bullies, drama, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I was very nervous when I found out that this was being made into a movie, however, when I heard that Chbosky was writing the screenplay and directing it, a lot of my worry subsided.  Who better to write and direct a movie based on a critically acclaimed novel than the writer of said novel?!  It worked in his favor, because I thought that the film was incredibly true to the book.

The three leads (Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Logan Lerman) were fantastic.  Sure, you would hear the slip of a British accent from Emma Watson, but they really did bring these characters- these insecure and lost characters- to life for me.

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The film version worked so well because there was a lot of emphasis on the emotions of the characters.  What they feel are things that we all feel everyday: insecure, scared, alone, rejected, lost.  There are a lot of dark themes in this story, but there is also a lot of hope as well.  That’s why this story has resonated with so many people.

I just want to take a few moments to talk about Logan Lerman’s performance, specifically.  He was Charlie.  For me, there has never been a more perfect screen adaptation of a character from literature than Lerman’s Charlie.  Not to get too personal, but he hit a nerve with me.  He reminded me of why I relate to Charlie so much and why I fell in love with his story in the first place: because nobody is ever truly happy, and that’s okay; because sometimes people are different, and that’s okay; because there’s always going to be a lot of bad times in your life, but there’s also going to be a lot of good times as well.  Reading the book, it felt like Charlie was writing his letters specifically to you, allowing you into his world and into his problems while at the same time, giving you reassurance; watching the movie, it was the same exact thing.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a beautiful and touching story.  The film does the book so much justice.  Charlie’s story may just change your life.

“Maybe it’s good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there. Because it’s okay to feel things. I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite. I feel infinite.”