Thursday, May 13, 2010

Love Love Love

Charlene Yi goes lookin for nerd love in Paper Hearts

The movie's I've watched on DVD lately have the theme of love. Lookin' for love, losing love, finding know, the same themes that are in billions and billions of movies. Three movies I've seen try some novel ideas to attack these familiar themes with varying results.

Paper Hearts rating:

Zack and Miri Make A Porno rating:

Solaris rating:

Paper Hearts is a mockumentary rom com starring Charlene Yi as a stand up comic who doesn't believe she will ever be in love. She sort of plays herself as this movie blurs the line between documentary and fiction carefully to tell it's story. Yi interviews scientists, old couples and what not to find out what love is until she meets up with actor Michael Cera. The couple then spend the rest of the movie trying to date out of the eye of her own documentary crew as they doggedly chase them. Interspersed throughout the film are viginettes where Yi uses puppetry to show a more homemade poetic take on the narrative. The mockumentary concept is sort of frustrating, it plays heavily towards being like a real doc the first part and then drifts further into contrived fiction during the second part. Yi is a unique presence, a sort of shy unassuming tom boy who is billed as a comedian yet doesn't do anything funny. For the most part, the film plays on Yi and Cera's genial awkwardness to keep interest up. Despite all it's indie cool and low budget charm, Paper Hearts is at its core a conventional rom com slightly evocative of When Harry Met Sally. It's OK but left me wishing it was more.

Kevin Smith is a filmmaker with a strong following thanks to his sense of indie cool as well. I don't know why, I haven't been that excited about any of his movies. I think Mallrats was the one I enjoyed from start to finish. I tried to watch Chasing Amy but got bored. Only thing I recall from Dogma was a huge pile of shit (literally!). What else has he made? Probably something I like of his and just don't know it. Anyway, this is about Zack and Miri Make A Porno starring that guy from Knocked Up and Elizabeth Banks. They unconvincingly play down and out losers who are best friends. The Knocked Up guy reels off those nonstop funny rants he's known for and does a good job. Just the idea that he's platonic best friends with Banks who is frankly just too good looking for her role doesn't fly. And that's the crux of the movie. That these two characters have been bffs for ever and discover they have feeling for each other while making a porno out of financial desperation. So I didn't buy the main story, but there are some nice performances that made the film worthy of attention. Jason Mewes is great as a dim bulb porn actor and Justin Long (the guy from the computer commercials) was ROTFLMAO as a gay porn star. Plus there was some fun seeing former adult film actress Traci Lords take a mainstream nod towards her past. Like Paper Hearts, OK but left me wishing it was more. That's what she said. Ha ha.

The last movie on this list doesn't fit with the others, I just saw it recently. That was Solaris, not the philosophical original but the dumbed down remake with George Clooney. After seeing the Russian original I was curious about the modernized American version. Man, they should have left well enough alone. The intellectual mystery and debates about The Big Empty of death, existence and the universe gets filtered down to cliff notes. And in what I assume was an effort to appease the studio for pumping big bucks into this hard sell movie, we get a lot of Clooney ass in this flick. His ass has so much screen time I wonder if it started to ask the director what it's motivation was. The best model I can think of to represent Solaris is that statue "The Thinker", with the naked dude pondering with his fist under his chin. Just think, if this movie was a box office success college courses would have probably had philosophy teachers work out and then teach in the buff. Oh, and there's some plot twists not in the original that suck what little life is left in an effort to be a more conventional film and add some post 9/11 paranoia. Meh.

So now you may be thinking "Why doesn't this guy pick better movies to watch than this?" Good question, good question indeed...

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