“Juliet, Naked”

What a gem of a film! The mythology around our idols intertwined with poignant memories in old photos elicit not characters bound by their fates, but characters like us moving in thoughtful steps in the right directions.

This charming, but imperfect world is set in Sandcliff, England. One thinks of “stuck in the sand” and “jumping off a cliff” after we meet Duncan ( Chris O’Dowd ). O’Dowd has never been as clueless and self-absorbed as he is in “Juliet, Naked”. Women may forever repeat “Duncan” to warn off anyone considering co-habitation with a jerk.

Annie, ( Rose Byrne ) our protagonist, spends much of her time sleeping off depression. Her job of running a historical museum had  been her dead father’s. Pickled baby sharks in glass jars and shells and old photographs comprise the cache. Annie is feeling like she may want a baby, but Duncan believes that the world doesn’t need more kids. However, he seems one himself.

The feeling of missing decades haunt Annie and one other character, Tucker Crowe. The old acoustical rocker Crowe is Duncan’s obssession. Duncan’s hobby is running an on-line forum and a Tucker Crowe website, “Can You Hear Me”. Duncan considers Crowe a seminal figure of alternative rock: his 1993 masterpiece “Juliet” the epitome of genius.

The walls of Annie and Duncan’s abode are papered with his posters. Old tapes of Crowe’s work are enshrined. Annie is clearly in second place; and,  when a new colleague of Duncan’s, Gina, steps in Annie is in third.

British author Nick Hornsby of “ High Fidelity” fame has written a novel that captures the regrets most honest adults have. Director Jesse Peretz has delivered  these memes for the screen. The cast is stellar. The music written by Ryan Adams, Robyn Hitchcock, Nathan Larson, and Conor Oberst soulful.

When Annie starts an on-line friendship/romance with her boyfriend’s idol/obssession we cheer her on. Anything to get her away from Duncan! One of my favorite scenes is when Annie, in new light blue lacy underwear is batting the fire alarm, and Duncan has a melt down over the absence of D batteries. He calls Annie a “ half-formed relic master, however unnuanced”, and we want him out of her life. Feckless as Tucker may be , he gets regret as he explains his last 14 years of watching “Law And Order” and drug and alcohol abuse.Throw in his five children by assorted mates and Annie’s lesbian sister, Co-hart Terry and his “ Summer of 1964 Exhibition” ;and, modern life looks normal. Tucker attempts to cheer Annie when she confesses she has missed decades of fulfillment. He tells her to subtract the time she spent reading good books and sleeping and she could hone her loss down a half decade.

No one will feel they have wasted 98 minutes of fruitful musings by seeing this lovely slice-of-life picture. Maybe viewers will even  learn to value things that come easily.

 

 

“Spy” and “Pitch Perfect 2”

After a week of scholarship and insight at Indiana University’s Mini-U, it is time for a balance by reviewing summer comedy and snarky spoofs.A fellow friend and film blogger had seen “Spy” and enjoyed it enough to wish to see it again. My husband had seen a review on “Pitch Perfect 2” and asked me to join him even though we had not seen the original. Below are my thoughts on both films.

Never really a fan of Melissa McCarthy, I must say I loved her in “Spy”. She is more vulnerable here and less vulgar,even in a wait-until-the-credits-roll-by outtake. (Worth waiting for because McCarthy can’t even believe she allowed her ad lib to be included.)Let’s just call it her thumb review! Likewise,Jude Law is stellar: the perfect stance,facial expressions and timing. In his James Bond role,as Bradley Fine, he looks mighty fine,too!
I thought the entire cast with the exception of Allyson Janney was top notch. Janney was too
one dimensional for me~never wavering from the hard boss. While Rose Bryne,Bobby Cannavale, Miranda Hart and Jason Statham brought a natural and balanced vigor to their roles. Loved the creative name-calling and word play from “Shits Carlton” to you dress like “a slutty dolphin trainer”. I consider Paul Feig’s “Spy” most summer-comedy worthy with double agent action to keep you guessing.

“Pitch Perfect 2” bored me with the use of the divided screen highlighting pillow-fight hijinxs and campfire singalongs. I liked the word play in this comedy as much as the a cappella singing. “Deutsche bag” and “treblemakers” struck me as creative.By the way,the German singers had the staging and the voices. Das Sound Machine out did the generations of Bellas in my estimation. The contest co-hosts Elizabeth Banks And John Michael Higgins were less than hysterical.The Christmas album with Snoop Dog was inspired as was the “songs about butts ” category and the gift card to Dave and Busters. Product placement advertising is rampant in “Pitch Perfect 2”: Cover girl and Pantene star.

One of the most beautiful shots is in Copenhagen with drizzle and sun rays on the colored facades and umbrellas mirroring all. Fat Amy and “muffingate”, or Southern exposure to the Commander-in-Chief was as silly as “sucking vodka from a maxi-pad”, sophomoric at best.I did not much care for Anna Kendrick or Rebel Wilson. Skyler Astin was energetic more than memorable.Fans of “The Voice” may find this film “the kicker of the ass”,I just didn’t.