Darius (Aubrey Plaza) has felt invisible since high school. She’s at an unpaid internship at a Seattle based magazine doing menial tasks such as buying toilet paper for the bathroom (obviously, the magazine isn’t doing well enough to have a janitorial service). A staff meeting is called and the editor calls out for story ideas. Jeff (Jake Johnson) throws out the idea of tracking down a guy who put a classified ad in the newspaper about time travel.
The editor approves the story. Jeff grabs two interns, Darius and Arnau (Karan Soni), and they head off to Ocean View to find this person. They are able to track down Kenneth (Mark Duplass) who works at a supermarket, lives in a run-down house, and drives a beat up car.
Jeff approaches Kenneth first, but is quickly rejected for the time travel partnership. Darius goes in for the second attempt and her snappy dialogue gets her a positive response. Finally feeling like she has something of importance to do, Darius throws herself into the assignment. Kenneth puts Darius through various training exercises: gun shooting, running, how to communicate inan emergency.
A lot of this seems like a waste of time when Kenneth reveals that they’re only going back to 2001. To give us just a bit of added idiosyncrasies to the movie, the journalists soon realize that Kenneth is being followed by federal agents.
The time machine has a larger meaning for our characters. Kenneth wants to go back in time to reunite with his former“girlfriend.” Since Darius is doing much of the research, Jeff goes off to reunite with his high school girlfriend (this probably being why he suggested the story in the first place).
Jeff also takes Arnau under his wings. Jeff wants to make sure that Arnau doesn’t grow old and end up regretting not getting to experience a proper one nightstand with a college co-ed – one can only hope they weren’t scouting out high school freshmen. Darius finds herself pulled into the time machine potential, because of her own regrets. It doesn’t really matter if the time machine works or not. The various characters have issues that they need to resolve and this story helps them work out their past and present.
In some ways this movie reminded me of K-Pax (2001), a man that everyone believes is just a bit off (you can’t build a time machine and you can’t be an alien visitor to planet earth). As the journalists follow leads, they learn that parts of Kenneth’s story do not add up. But this does not matter, because even when their doubts rise they can’t help but hope that there is an explanation for these inconsistencies and that Kenneth really has created a time machine.
The movie runs a brief hour and 25 minutes. I’m not going to say that this movie knocks it out of the park. In fact, if the movie had gone another 10 minutes, I probably would have found myself bored to death; but in those brief 85 minutes we get a low key movie that makes you think about what changes you would make if you could go back to your own personal year of 2001. You will find yourself cheering for Kenneth, Darius, Jeff and Arnau.
P.S. The movie ends with the most amazing facial expression from Jake Johnson and I understood once again why Zooey Deschanel isn’t the only reason why I love “The New Girl.” As for the theater audience, this moment got the biggest laugh.
P.S.S. So I am anal enough to have looked closely at the classified ad. How exactly did they know to stake out post office box 9 (sorry, if it was a different number, I believe it was 9)?
Cut and Reel celebrates Breast Cancer Awareness Month** and Domestic Violence Awareness Month*** with a tribute to Women in Film.
This week Cut and Reel presents REEL CLASSICS: Chick Flicks
Cut and Reel Live! hosts Maureen Shampine and Jennifer Haren give you their top 20 chick flicks of all time.
Maureen’s 11 From Heaven
1. Auntie Mame
2. Sunset Boulevard
3. Mildred Pierce
4. The Philadelphia Story
5. His Girl Friday
6. The Trouble with Angels
7. How to Marry a Millionaire
8. Pillow Talk
9. Dirty Dancing
10. Pretty Woman
11. Steel Magnolias
Jennifer Haren’s Divine 9
1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
2. Thelma & Louise
3. Pretty Woman
4. His Girl Friday
5. Sunset Boulevard
6. Pretty in Pink
7. Sixteen Candles
8. Pride and Prejudice
9. Franco Zefferelli’s Romeo & Juliet
**Join Cut and Reel Live! host Maureen Shampine on Oct 25th as she walks for the cure at City of Hope. Maureen’s team, The Pink Goo’s, is headed by Jenny Dragoo who is walking to support the cause that helps the 1 in 8 women stricken with breast cancer–like her mother and grandmother–in their time of need.
For information on joining Maureen and Jenny, or donating to the cause please visit:
***Help stop the crippling mental, emotional, and physical effects of domestic abuse—join inspirational survivor, Trish Steele, help victims of domestic violence. Visit: www.safepassagehome.org to see how you can help a woman reclaim her life—mind, body, and spirit—after surviving domestic violence.
by Adriane Hoff
Drew Barrymore makes her directoral debut in “Whip It”, a story of a small town high school girl who becomes a roller derby star. Ellen Page stars as Bliss Cavendar, or Babe Ruthless, the roller derby rookie, who takes to skates like a fish to water.
I first heard about this movie a couple years back from a friend who skates with the Los Angeles Derby Dolls. My interest in this movie was instantly piqued, as I used to play roller derby. I was excited to see what Drew Barrymore’s take on the sport would be. Needless to say, I was at the theater opening night with a most critical eye. After all, the sport I love must be paid some justice!
As far as the roller derby element of the movie, Barrymore did a pretty decent job accurately portraying the sport. She actually had all her actresses skate themselves in the movie. Score one for Drew! The hits, blocks, and heads against the bank track are all the real deal.
I felt that Barrymore really captured the dedication to the sport that most skaters have, and as I found out during my time playing, that roller derby is not a hobby. It consumes every part of your life. “Rink-rash” and black eyes are seen as honorable battle wounds. Barrymore makes the viewer realize how vital this sport is to these women. The scene that portrays this best is when Iron Maven, played by Juliette Lewis, corners Bliss when she beings to see her as a threat. Maven says to Bliss that she didn’t start skating until her early 30s and it finally took her that long to find something she was good at. She threatened to reveal to the league that Bliss was too young to skate on the league if she didn’t let Maven reap the fruit of her work.
Barrymore does a fantastic job adding a human element to all the roller derby girls. People have their perceptions of what a roller derby girl must be. Some people think they must all be inked-up, promiscuous alcoholics. What I loved about this movie is that very wrong stereotype is shattered. We see the loving mother in Maggie Mayhem; the relentlessly competitive woman in Iron Maven; the blue collar woman, whose spirit remains strong, in Smashley Simpson; and the young woman with more potential than you can shake a barbecued pig snout at, in Bliss.
Behind the awesome, butt-kicking action in the movie, there is a great coming of age story. We first meet Bliss as she is dragged into the beauty pageant circuit by her mother. Bliss is at her wit’s end with living her life for other people when she stumbles across a flyer for the Lonestar Rollergirls. She drags her best friend, Pash (played by Arrested Development’s Alia Shawkat), to the bout and becomes enamored with the entire experience. Bliss is recruited by Maggie Mayhem (played by Kristen Wiig) and manages to convince the league members that she’s 22 and legally old enough to “bout”.
Barrymore captures the spirit of being a frustrated youth who is hungry to create a life of her own. The dynamics between Bliss and her best friend, boyfriend, parents, and peers are portrayed in such a way that the viewer can empathize. Personally, I was able to relate to many of the same struggles portrayed in this movie. The relationship between Bliss and Pash even made me get sentimental and reminded me of my relationship with my best friend.
For her first crack behind the camera, Drew Barrymore does alright. “Whip It” is the next best thing to a Derby Dolls bout.
Cut and Reel says : REEL it on DVD
As we make our way into the preseason of Oscar-film-contention madness, we find a truly remarkable gem and possibly an early front-runner for the coveted Best Picture award in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Whether Tarantino takes home the coveted eight and a half pound man next spring will remain to be seen, but what is clearly evident after moments into the film is that this is an entirely new, more sophisticated, grown-up (if you will) version of his signature cinematic style that has further solidified his indelible mark in celluloid history.
Inglourious Basterds is a soon-to-be classic war film that mystifies audiences with brilliant acting, writing, social commentary, and a rendering of history and war as only Tarantino himself could deliver. The film, set during the German occupation of France prior to the D-Day liberation offensive, immediately captures audiences with an immersing, atmospheric exposition that is spellbinding, exciting, and utterly enjoyable to watch. Gone is the kitsch appeal and slick, self-aware, impossibly-hip dialogue that Tarantino has trademarked with films like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and the Kill Bill movies. In fact, besides the opening title card that denotes the first “chapter” of the film, and his signature tromploi camera angles, one would hardly know he or she was watching one of his films.
Enter the villain–or more realistically the unexpected antihero of all antiheroes–S.S. Col. Hans Landa played brilliantly, enigmatically, and acutely by scene-stealing Austrian actor, Christoph Waltz (to say that his performance is inspired and divine is the grossest understatement of the year). Wasting no time at all, Tarantino thrusts the viewer into 1940’s, occupied France and masterfully introduces the two characters whose very different, albeit intertwining lives compel and unite the film’s distinctive and varied storylines (in true Tarantino tradition). Then, just as the viewer is comfortably locked into watching only a slightly-less reverent rendering of World War II Nazi imposition than say Schindler’s List or films of its ilk, Tarantino fires the first of many curveballs that sets his film apart from classic war film renderings.
A weathered and scarred Brad Pitt arrives on the scene with his miscreant band of spaghetti-western style vigilantes, the Basterds, who recall and pay homage to: the Steve McQueen (The Great Escape) and Lee Marvin (the Dirty Dozen) action/war films that set the bar for war-grunt banter and badass, almost super-human heroics in films of the genre; Shakespearean foils who offer comedic relief in bouts of absurd tragedy; and the classical, Greek choragus, who, with insights of wisdom, narration, or commentary would propel the story line. Throw in a few Tarantino stylistic non sequiturs, a couple of voiceover cameos from Tarantino regulars, Harvey Keitel and Samuel L. Jackson, a little (by his standards) gun play, and the viewer is instantly, yet seamlessly, transported into a new, but familiar kind of film. From the Basterds’ arrival onscreen, it is evident that while this film pulls from the pages of history, all bets are off; and the predictability factor is left to rot back in the first chapter, along with the reverence once given to the subject matter.
Banking on his own renown as a writer, director, and notoriously-eclectic pioneer of almost-indie filmmaking, Tarantino then skillfully weaves a new web in wartime film epics, subtly reminding the viewer that war makes every person it touches an inglourious basterd. He dutifully does so while delivering action, intrigue, and clever, sophisticated dialogue (in several languages) and characters. With no clear distinction between saints and sinners; friends and foes; heroes and villains, he discreetly poses questions of morality, loyalty, and retribution–all too familiar themes from Tarantino, but this time rendered more subliminally and more sublimely than ever before.
This film, with its international cast and multilingual script, is the voice of the current generation and its lackadaisically scathing view of war; an homage to the films and history that spoke to, admonished, or compelled/inspired generations before it; and an homage to the art of film itself, which has been, since its incarnation (and will continue to be) the social conscience of the inglourious basterds who make films…and of those who watch them.
Cut and Reel says: REEL
by Adrienne Hoff
Cut and Reel, besides bringing you their recommendations (REEL!) and non-recommendations (CUT!) for what to see in the theaters will also bring you their picks for older flicks that are worth staying home to watch, like this week’s Reel Classic, A Bronx Tale.
Directed by: Robert De Niro
Written by: Chazz Palminteri
“He’s wrong. It don’t take much strength to pull a trigger. But try and get up every morning,day after day, and work for a living. Let’s see him try that. Then we’ll see who the real tough is. The working man’s the tough guy. Your father’s the tough guy. ”
Based on Chazz Palminteri’s real-life experiences of growing up in the Bronx, A Bronx Tale is an incredibly humbling coming-of-age story in which the lines are blurred between good versus evil and right versus wrong. Robert De Niro co-stars in his directorial debut as Lorenzo Anello, a proud blue-collar man who is rich with integrity and teaches these virtues to his son by being a living example. His young son, Calogero, admires his father, but can’t shake his fascination with neighborhood gangster Sonny LoSpecchio. Much against his father’s will, Calogero, or ‘C,’ is taken under Sonny’s wing after C is the witness of murder and doesn’t rat on Sonny. Sonny, played by writer Chazz Palminteri, teaches C more than how to survive on the streets. He gives C an education on women, acceptance, and most notably, the powerful difference between respect and fear. (more…)
The Proposal by Chris Poulos
Well, first off seeing this was not my idea. I was meeting up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while (one of whom was attempting to retrieve her bike lock that I was still in possession of). The original plan was to meet at a bar for a trivia night but…there was a last minute change of plans…really?! Really.
With half an hour to think about it, and the biting urge to leave the office, I buckled and headed out to meet them at the theatre, (mind you I still had no idea what we were seeing) then I got the text:
“It’s The Proposal, 7:15.”
I don’t have a TV. I don’t watch commercials…I was clueless about what they were dragging me into. And wait–7:15? It was already 7:30 something…yeah–it’s gonna be one of those nights!
I get chick flicks: very simplistic plot with not-so-subtle innuendos, which somehow are, very often, delivered by an over-sexed, elderly woman whose job it is to wink at the protagonist female to illustrate that “Life is short and then you get old and get no lovin’.”
Well, The Proposal wasn’t very different, except that Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) gets conned into tying the knot with his boss from hell, Margaret Tate, (Sandra Bullock) whose visa is expiring and now has to forfeit her position at a New York book company. Boo hoo. (more…)