Monday, May 10, 2010

Leap Year, Uncertainty and New York I Love You - Two Great Movies & A Lame RomCom

"Leap Year" - First off, despite the beautiful Irish scenery, as the official gatekeeper of travel porn, I will not be adding this to the list.  Romcoms are often described as light and fluffy but here we will go with flimsy and paper-thin. In a short and shallow set up, we meet Anna  (Amy Adams) and her boyfriend. All you need to know about them is that she stages high-end apartments and he is a cardiologist. This tags her as the control freak obsessed with the little details that create perceived perfection. Not much to say about the boyfriend who will from this point forward be referred to as "the cardiologist" . He is rich, accomplished and needs the same in a mate. Like so many female movie characters before her Anna yearns for a marriage proposal as the final piece of the puzzle to "stage" her life. Said cardiologist is dragging his feet on this matter and disappoints one time too many. He is off to a conference in Dublin and she decides to follow him. We're fed a story about an Irish tradition where women propose to their boyfriends on leap day. This is supposed to supply urgency because she wants the romantic story this trip will supply. However she is so frantic I just wondered what bad things would happen if she proposed on, say, the day after leap day?  Would she have been breaking some Irish law against female empowerment?
 I won't bore you with too many details but bad weather lands her instead in what must be the Irish version of redneck land and at the mercy of Matthew Goode's grumpy innkeeper/taxi driver. He calls her "idjet"(idiot), she calls him jackass and they are off on the race to true love. I think "Leap Year" may have been better served with at least a PG13 rating. The two lovebirds could have expressed their early distaste for each other in some more colorful language and the sexual tension may have been amped up. Also don't worry about the cardiologist. He's left behind in Boston with enough of Anna's shallow female friends, that he'll be hooked up in no time.

"Uncertainty" - A first glance I feared this movie was saddled with too much of a film school project type plot. Take two characters, film them in two polar opposite stories but have the same themes resonate in both. Fortunately this turned out to be my favorite of the three weekend movies. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins (IMDB her because she looks so familiar and not at the same time) play a couple who have to decide whether to spend the 4th of July with her family or head to Manhattan looking for adventure. The Manhattan storyline turns into an over the top contrived action adventure movie while the family weekend is fraught with it's own emotional dangers. This is very purposeful and plays out the overriding theme. I see this as the dilemma that filmmakers must face : do you produce the big budget action movie that probably is full of plot holes or the more nuanced character drama. "Uncertainty" may not be for everyone but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Levitt and Collins take up most of the screen time which can be a big burden but they rise to the task in excellent ways. 

"New York, I Love You" - Last but not least this movie is a companion piece to the 2006 movie "Paris, I Love You" with ten shorts populated by various "characters" in New York.  The cast of actors is really impressive -Natalie Portman, Shia LaBeouf, Orlando Bloom, Ethan Hawke, Andy Garcia, John Hurt, Christina Ricci, Robin Wright and so many others. The cast alone is reason enough to see this movie. In addition one of the more beautifully filmed sequences is a project produced by the late Anthony Minghella. The stories range from the funny, to the sad, to the trivial. It works for the most part but since it is meant to be a love story about a city, I would've liked to have seen more of that city. Too many scenes give a big city vibe but nothing that seemed iconic of New York.  It definitely peaked my interest enough that I am adding "Paris, I Love You" to my Blockbuster que.