Thursday, July 30, 2009

Quirky Is Not Bad (For Movies)

Ok, I know this comes as no big surprise, but I loved both 500 Days Of Summer and Away We Go. I realize that now the indie film aesthetic has gone mainstream, and there's nothing particularly new or experimental about either of these films. And I'll even admit that the quirk in both films border on cliche.

But here's the thing: Both films gave me what I want from a movie. Good stories, likable characters, funny situations, and some sweet, sad, beautiful moments. I don't really care if it's become cliche. I feel like I got my $8 worth.

500 Days has been criticized for being too much style over substance, and I'll grant that. There's a narrator, a musical number, black and white scenes that try too hard to look like a classic French film. But overall, I didn't really mind. It's also been labeled Nora Ephron for hipsters. So what? Nora Ephron makes romantic comedies that are actually good. While there are cliche elements to the story, [spoiler alert!] Tom and Summer don't stay together. There aren't many romantic comedies that feature a break-up between the leads...

As for Away We Go, I loved it. By far, it was my favorite movie of the summer (although Up comes close). First of all, it features a couple that has been together for a long time and still love each other and have a real friendship. Movies don't show us happy, established couples, and here come Burt and Verona. Plus, the supporting cast all put in great performances, and I particularly loved Maggie Gyllenhal as the crazy, hypocritical hippie. The film manages to move subtly towards poignancy, and while some critics may feel like they were being manipulated, I didn't mind at all.

Sometimes, you want your emotions manipulated a little bit. That's what movies offer us. They don't always have to be realistic or believable. I'm ok with that.

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