Tag: romance

Netflix Pick: ‘Nice Guy Johnny’

Nice Guy Johnny (2010)
Written & Directed by Edward Burns
90 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Make fun of me if you like — but I have been a closet fan of romantic comedies for some time now.  Edward Burns’ Nice Guy Johnny covers no new ground and is fairly predictable, but I still found myself enjoying it.  Johnny (Matt Bush) is a native New Yorker who hosts a sports radio talk show in Oakland.  He is only 25 and is engaged to a controlling, bitchy fiancee, who wants him to quit his dream job for a more profitable one; working for her father.  Johnny flies home to New York for the interview, but soon meets up with his womanizing Uncle Terry (Burns), who — among others — tells him he is too young to get married.  Johnny grudgingly accepts an invitation to a weekend in the Hamptons with the rascally Terry.  Johnny then meets the charming and attractive Brooke (Kerry Bishe), who encourages him to follow his dreams and not conform to what others want him to do.  Nice Guy Johnny is by no means a great film, but it is quite enjoyable given the right circumstances.  Burns knows the New York rom-com genre well (The Brothers McMullen, She’s The One) and he returns to his roots here.  Nice Guy Johnny is a fun, light-hearted comedy; a perfect date film.

DVD Pick of the Week: ‘Blue Valentine’

Blue Valentine (2010)

Written and Directed by Derek Cianfrance

By Josh Perrault

Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine” is a film about a married couple, Dean Pereira (Ryan Gosling) and Cynthia “Cindy” Heller (Michelle Williams), as they shift back and forth in time between their dating years and their fading marriage years. Dean and Cindy meet fairly early in their lives. Dean, a high school dropout is working for a moving company, while Cindy is a college student studying nursing. They first meet while Dean is moving a man into his room at a home for the elderly, where Cindy’s grandmother also lives. Though Cindy is dating her boyfriend from high school, Bobby (Mike Vogel), as she gets to know Dean they find a mutual attraction between them. Years later Dean and Cindy are married and have a daughter named Frankie (Faith Wladkya), but their happiness has seemed to diminish. While on a weekend trip to a hotel together, Dean and Cindy realizes no matter how hard they try, the magic they once had in their relationship isn’t coming back. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress – Michelle Williams.

Netflix Instant Pick: ‘An American Werewolf in London’

An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Written & Directed by John Landis
97 mins.

By Tim Lucia

The cult classic An American Werewolf in London is a must-see for fans of old school horror, comedy, and creature features.  Veteran comedy director John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Animal House, Trading Places, Coming to America) helms this classic ‘scary’ film (it wouldn’t be scary at all to today’s younger generations), mixing in humor and romance.  David Kessler (David Naughton) and his buddy Jack (Griffin Dunne) are traveling through northern England when the stumble into a small town pub called ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’.  In a hilarious scene, they are greeted with abrasive hostility by the mysterious locals.  On their way out, they are attacked by a werewolf, ‘killing’ Jack and landing David in the hospital.  David is taken care of by a beautiful nurse, Alex (Jenny Agutter), who eventually brings him back to her flat in London.  Upon the next full moon — well, you can guess what happens.  Legendary make-up artist Rick Baker provides some jaw-dropping and hilarious make-up for the ‘undead’.  Werewolf is a fun, campy film, and the violence seen is very tame by todays standards.

Netflix Instant Pick – “Monsters”

By Josh Perrualt

Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and grow. In an effort to stem the destruction that resulted, half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the massive creatures… Garreth Edwards’ feature film debut, Monsters, is story about a journalist, Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), who is hired by his boss to assist his daughter, Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able), through the infected zone in Mexico to the US border. Though Andrew has no interest in chaperoning Samantha across the border, their relationship begins to grow into something more as they boat, walk, and drive through the infected zone to safety.

Hands of Time: Traveling through Paris at Midnight

Midnight in Paris
Written & Directed by Woody Allen
94 mins.

***(out of four)

By Tim Lucia

Woody Allen’s annual film has come to theaters this summer, providing a nice departure from the usual summer blockbuster fare.  “Midnight in Paris” is a humorous romantic comedy mixed with whimsical fantasy.  Witty and fun, “Midnight” is probably Allen’s best film since 2005’s “Match Point”.

Gil (Owen Wilson), a Hollywood screenwriter, is on vacation in Paris with his stuck-up, controlling fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and her parents.  Working on a book about nostalgia, Gil longs to live in the past, specifically 1920s Paris.  Walking alone one night, Gil gets lost.  As the clock strikes midnight, an early-model car picks him up and whisks him into another world, the world of his dreams.  Gil meets a slew of famous writers and artists, as well as a beautiful woman (Marion Cotillard), which he immediately develops a crush on.  Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, he drifts apart from his fiancée.

Paris is seen as a city of romance through Allen’s lens.  Gil is taken with the beauty of the city, and seems to get great inspiration from it.  Allen seems to be taken with the city himself — filling his script with scenes of dining, drinking, music, and discussion.  High culture, as always, is discussed intellectually while also being made fun of — another trademark of Allen’s comedies.  Michael Sheen steals most of his scenes as a pretentious intellectual, whom Gil is threatened by.  

Allen’s directorial career has spanned over 45 years and 47 films.  Obviously, they are not all gems.  As usual, he has another film slated for next year, and will probably keep going as long as he can.  “Manhattan” and “Annie Hall” are two all-time great films of American cinema, and arguably the two best romantic comedies of all time.  While “Midnight” is not on their level, it is a strong return to form for Allen, who had spent most of this past decade making dramas and some fairly mediocre comedies.

Allen’s skill with both the pen and the camera is undeniable, and “Midnight” is a fun, enjoyable film which uses them both well.  A perfect date film, “Midnight’s” wit and charm make it a nice escape away from the superheroes and explosions of summer.  While not Allen’s best film, it is far from his worst.

Eat, Pray, Love

Review by: Ryan Oliver

We’ve all had those days where we’ve felt overburdened by the complications of everyday life, whether it be a relationship, work, or just the stresses of planning for the future. For most of us, it’s a pipe dream to go on a soul-searching vacation. In Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) made it a reality. After a crumbling marriage with her husband (Billy Crudup) and a failed rebound relationship with a young man (James Franco), she leaves her life in New York behind and goes on a year-long trip. She visits Italy (to eat), India (to pray), and Bali where she ultimately falls in love with Felipe (Javier Bardem), another fellow divorcee.

The film is based on the memoir of the real Elizabeth Gilbert who took this wonderful trip. I have never read the book personality, but I feel there are things that may have had more emotional impact in the book than in Ryan Murphy’s (creator of the highly overrated Glee) film. I didn’t believe for a second that there was any spark in Gilbert’s relationship with Crudup or with Franco. I know that both of those relationships ended, but I didn’t feel any connection between them at any point. There were also times that reminded me of an episode of Family Guy where Peter tells Lois’s dad “You’re going to love it here, even more than Julia Roberts loves herself.” It was scenes where you couldn’t help but wonder why such a wealthy and beautiful woman would need to find herself? These scenes had more whining than honesty.

However, by the time she finishes in Italy, you lose sense of the whininess and you actually care about Gilbert’s journey. You care about what she’s doing and what she’s going to do next. On top of that, the movie was shot on location in all the places that Liz visits, so we get some beautiful shots of these cities, even if we get too many extended sequences of her eating and praying.

Julia Roberts is a class actress all the way. She’s too good to play this character with only one dimension, and even when the movie slumps – which happens more than once in it’s unnecessary 2 hour and 20 minute runtime – her starpower shines through the cracks. There are also some really compelling scenes with the supporting players as well, most notably Richard (the always fantastic Richard Jenkins), a man who she meets in India trying to forgive himself for his dark past with his family. Javier Bardem is also terrific and charming as the man she eventually falls in love with. Though the film has too many snags and slow parts to give it a full-on recommendation, it’s beautifully shot, thoroughly entertaining, and has a great central performance by Julia Roberts that doesn’t make it too tormenting for those outside the target demographic.

Eat Pray Love
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt; based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert
Stars Julia Roberts, Billy Crudup, James Franco, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity
**1/2 (out of four)