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.

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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 Artist (2011)


Out of all the movies at the 84th Academy Awards, one movie stood out amongst the rest.  Why, may you ask did this movie stand out amongst the rest? Because it was a silent film nominated at the Academy Awards, in the year 2012…

This is the one reason why The Artist peeked my interest.  I was in an American Film class that semester and we had just finished up with the silent film era and watched movies starring the likes of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Charlie Chaplin.  I had never watched a silent film until this class and surprisingly, I enjoyed the ones I saw.  Needless to say, I was dying to see The Artist (that and a lot of people that I knew were pretty adamant in stating their disapproval over it’s Best Picture win).

The Artist is about a silent film star, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who meets a girl named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo)and inspires her to try her luck in the film industry.  With the introduction of talking pictures in Hollywood, Peppy’s career starts to blossom, while George’s career and life crumbles as he tries to hold on to the past.

This movie reminded me of Singing In the Rain– minus the whole musical/comedy/romance.  But the plot is similar: silent movie star finding life difficult with the introduction of the talking pictures.  Whereas Singing In The Rain took more of a comedic route with the subject matter, this film looks at what it legitimately was like for those silent movie stars that fell from grace when the talkies were introduced.  Basically, it sucked.  The Artist also tips it’s hat off to films like Citizen Kane and Sunset Boulevard, filmmakers like Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder, and actors such as Douglas Fairbanks.

Other than one scene, a dream sequence, where George starts hearing sounds all around him but finds that he cannot talk, I did feel like I was watching a silent movie from back in the 1920s most of the time.  The opening credits are that of which you would see in old movies, with a list of characters and actors, crew, etc.  However, the dream sequence and the last scene of the film pull you out of that mindset, but they do so in a way that makes you as viewer not mind the transition at all.

I liked the conflict between sound and silence.  These two things are made very obvious in the film.  The juxtaposition of the two is shown most evidently in the characters of George (silence) and Peppy (sound).  If this movie had been made with sound, being just about a fallen silent film star and the trials and tribulations he has to go through, there wouldn’t have been anything unique about this film.

At times, I felt that this movie would get dramatic to the point of stupidity (the scene where George starts a fire in his angst filled rage and then has an “OH CRAP!” moment in which he tries to escape).  However, I really did enjoy this movie.  I enjoyed it’s uniqueness, I enjoyed it’s cliché Hollywood ending, and I enjoyed it as an homage to old Hollywood and the past.  I enjoyed The Artist.

Oh, and the dog was pretty cute to, I guess.