Tuesday, August 2, 2011

❦ The Holiday (2006)

I just love The Holiday! The score is one of my absolute favorites. It's beautiful, touching and pulls me right into the story.

Jack Black scores the opening. I must admit that he's my least favorite thing about this movie. I'm ambivalent about his casting.

While he's an unlikely choice, some may say it makes him a perfect one, but for me, it's more than the fact that he's not your typical leading man, or that he doesn't pair off very well with Kate Winslet...no, it's more than that. It's about the fact that he looks like he belongs in a horror flick instead of a sweet romantic comedy like this one! I mean, just look at this opening scene - he's supposed to be gazing lovingly at his girlfriend Maggie, right? So why is he looking like an evil, psychopathic, meat-cleaving madman??

Sorry. He's not conveying tender affection here. at. all. He was so miscast.

Having said that, he does have some pretty good moments in various bits of the film - when he's doing what he does best - comedy.

Nice introduction to Iris. Unrequited love. Poor Simpky.

I love the scoring as Iris and Jasper speak in her office; and as it carries Iris home with a broken heart. This score makes me feel I'm on the train beside her, walking shell-shocked to the sanctuary and privacy of home.

I do wish there had been a couple more seconds after Iris closed the door before we hear her begin to cry. It would've heightened the emotional effect.

Not crazy about this break up scene with Amanda and Ethan. It always feels over-rehearsed on Cameron Diaz's part; it doesn't feel organic.

I do love how the gardener warns Ethan not to cop to cheating...and shakes his head when Ethan confesses, lol.

I also like this trailer scene. Amanda talking about women looking haggard from stress; then Googling for a getaway; trying to cry for a little relief, but unable to. Love it. And it's all very nicely scored, of course.

Low point....low point! Poor Iris.

I so love Iris and Amanda's IM meeting, and how they were both actually lifesavers, saving each other.

Notice how Iris types "Dear" and then erases it? Very meaningful. She really sees that it's time to heal and move on - get over Jasper the schmuck, finally!

Love how she's soaking up the rays of the L.A. sunshine on the cab ride to Amanda's house. And contrasts abound, don't they? "Winter Wonderland" plays for Iris, LOL.

Then we have Amanda in the winter wonderland of Iris' lane in Surrey. Boo to that lousy taxi driver, making her walk all that way!

It's so funny seeing Iris' reaction to Amanda's house contrasted with Amanda eyeing the tub in Iris's. LOL.

And what's up with Amanda damn near totaling Iris' car, then saying she needs a drink for the drive back?? Seriously, Amanda? LOL

Now she's bored - plays with her hair at the kitchen table, rocks out to Mr. Brightside, makes weird faces with the doggy. Then she's like: OK. I'm outta here, LOL. Guess two weeks of that was out of the question!

Meanwhile, across the pond...Iris is having a blast!

Very nice "meet cute" with Miles. Although, the "something's in my eye" bit is très cliché. And this is another of my least favorite things about this movie. What a hugely missed opportunity for establishing a good foundation for their attraction to each other.

Lovely scoring as Iris notices Arthur walking with his caretaker, and takes in the Santa Ana breeze. "Anything can happen."


So I love Amanda's and Graham's first meeting. It's so cute! And I love how they cut to the chase, getting right down to business. Very well written and well-acted scene. Doesn't feel forced at all.

Then, the morning after. It's sufficiently awkward. "Ah...you're supposed to plug them in over here." Funny. Sweet. Original.

Go Iris! Rocking out in Amanda's bed after sleeping off that jet lag...And then Jasper calls. Uh. Go away!

Back across the pond...Amanda stayed! Well, of course, she did. I love it when Graham spots Amanda in the pub. The song creates a nice ambiance.

I love the relationship that develops between Iris and Arthur - it's so sweet. He's lonely, in the twilight of his life, and...here comes the sun. Sigh. We know this relationship will last a lifetime. It's heartwarming, and one of my favorite things about the film.

Amanda and Graham have a lovely day together. Jude Law and Cameron Diaz have excellent chemistry in this film.

Oh, my gosh - I love the Hanukah party! Funny, light...and one of Jack Black's best moments in the film. Matchmaker Arthur is cute.

"Here's looking at you...Ilsa." Too funny. And Miles nailed Bogart.

I LOVE Amanda's reaction when she realizes Graham isn't alone in the house. And how adorable are these two kids? These scenes are priceless. How unexpected to discover Graham is a widower and these poor little girls have lost their mum so young. My heart just aches for them.

Okay, Mr. Napkinhead is LOL hilarious! Love it!

"We never have grownups here that are girls." Graham doesn't bring women around his children. Sweet moment.

I sympathize with Graham's need to compartmentalize his life. Wonderful acting here by Jude Law.

I always get a kick out of Arthur saying "eleven schnooks" would show up to see him for the Writer's Guild ceremony - not five or six, but eleven, LOL.

The 3-way call cracks me up. It's so cute. But I always wonder...why wouldn't Iris get back in touch with Graham, before going off to Blockbuster?? Deleted scene perhaps? Hmm...

Miles: "It's not a library, I can go loud." LOL

Cool seeing Dustin Hoffman in Blockbuster as Miles talks about the score to The Graduate. "Can't go anywhere."

Miles: "Do you have anything a little bit stronger?" And, yep - she sure does! LOL

Miles: "Well, fuck. You need this more than I do." ROTFLOL!!

I still get more of a sibling vibe with Iris and Miles, there's zero romantic chemistry.

I really like Arthur's Theme. And I'm in LOVE with Iris' melody. Gets me every time.

"So you're totally great." Graham's pillow talk line is pretty lame, LOL. Surely he could've found something far less cliché to say to her in that particular moment!

Amanda: "After a long, tearful -at your end-" LOL!

Back in L.A. Surprise, surprise. Jasper's at the door! Good on Iris for eventually slamming the door in his jack-eyed face. Gumption!

Well, what do you know? Looks like more than eleven schnooks showed up for Arthur, LOL.

And back in England: "Welcome back, Amanda!" And now she makes that trek up the lane to Rosehill Cottage with glee. So nice!

A lovely closing scene. A little Aretha never hurts. I just wish Amanda had mouthed I love you to Graham. That would've made it pitch-perfect. It feels missing after the way she reacted when Graham professed it to her.

Overall, The Holiday is aces all around. It's an intelligent script (apart from the couple of trite clichés I mentioned), with nearly pitch-perfect casting.

But whatever its flaws, this is a time when a lovely score more than compensates for them. And so it's a film I can watch over and over again. And I will! ☺

"Anything can happen." 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

❦ Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

It took a few screenings, but I must say, Bridget Jones's Diary has become one of my favorite modern romantic comedies. Very romantic, very funny!

As the story opens, how funny is Bridget's mum? "You'll never get a boyfriend if you look like you just wandered out of Auschwitz." Gemma Jones is pitch-perfect in this role!

"I was wearing a carpet." This never fails to crack me up every time I see this movie, LOL.

We see what a nice relationship Bridget has with her dad. I like how candid they are with each other, and how comfortable.

OK - When Mark calls her a "verbally incontinent spinster who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and dresses like her mother" - I could laugh up a lung, LOL!

I really like the Sad FM "All by Myself" sequence. (Anyone else notice how Renée Zellweger got a little ahead of the beat towards the end? Cute.)

Gotta love Bridget's "urban family": Shazzer, Jude, and Tom. They are HILARIOUS!

Now, when Daniel and Bridget's office flirtation begins, it's so clear from the start that Daniel's just trolling to "dip his nib in the office ink" - LOL.

Then Bridget plays it hard to get, which is cute. And, of course, the urban family chimes in with ever-so-helpful advice, heh. And yeah, it works...but doesn't interfere with Daniel's motives in the least - he still just wants to shag! ;-)

It's sweet seeing Mark's attraction to Bridget begin at the launch party. Her introduction etiquette works like a charm, Mark was sufficiently impressed. Thanks, Shazzer!

OK, Even I feel embarrassed for Bridget during that horrible 'tits pervert' introduction at the book launch party, LOL.

Mark does not like seeing her leave with Daniel at. all.

LOL when Bridget tries her well-rehearsed, intelligent conversation bid about Chechnya, and Daniel just dismisses it out of hand: "I couldn't give a f#%k, Jones." ROTFLOL! Can Hugh Grant deliver a line, or what? LOL!

How funny is Daniel's reaction to the enormous panties? Cracks me up, I LOVE it! "I have to take another look..." ROTFLMBO! This is one of my FAVORITE laughs in the whole movie!

"This tangerine-tinted buffoon..." LOL!

"Jaundiced Julian." LOL!

And boo to Pam! Why would she leave her sweet husband for such an obnoxious man?? Surely Mr. Jones wasn't ignoring her that much? LOL

Tarts and Vicars? LOL

Poor Dad. Feel sorry for him. He's so brokenhearted when Pam leaves him for Julian. Sigh.

OK. May I say I'm so sick of hearing Natasha call, "Mark?" Can she be any more annoying? Geesh.

And now, the heartbreak. I really feel it for Bridget when she discovers that pink sweater...and then discovers the "American stick insect," Laura. (And what the hell is that thing Laura's hiding behind, anyway? A poster board?)

Daniel Cleaver is a low-lying prick! Notice how cool he plays it when Bridget hears a noise from the bedroom? Smooth operator.

And then the sucker punch: "I thought you said she was thin...?" Ouch. OMG. Sob. Poor, Bridge. :-(

Why would Daniel choose this weekend of all weekends to agree to the mini-break?? Perhaps he didn't know Laura was flying in until the last minute...?

Great job by Renée Zellweger in this next sequence. And in Daniel's office the following day. Really good acting!

And so now they're engaged? WTF? And then after getting THAT blow, poor Bridget has to go back to her desk and get some work done? Pfft. Poor thing looks lost.

But she doesn't stay down. Oh, no. Go, Bridget! Throw on some Chaka Khan. Join the gym. Read some books. Get back in the saddle, girl. Love this part!

Really love the scene of Bridget walking with the crowd. Healing. Moving on.

"At Sit Up Britain, no one ever gets sacked for shagging the boss. That's a matter of principle." LOL! Classic.

"Have bottom the size of...BRAZIL!" LOL

Oh, how do I love the scene at Magda's and Jeremy's? Let me count the ways. Colin Firth is scrumptious in this scene. "Just as you are." And the look on Bridget's face! Priceless. And kudos to the soundtrack! The Van Morrison tune lifts the scene right into my heart. I don't think it would be the same without it.

And now, she finally clues up about exactly whom Mark Darcy is...Hello, Bridget? Anyone home?

And now she's a legend....with blue soup. LMBO! How funny is this part? LOL

Julian: "Careful you ham-fisted cunt!" OMG.

Bridget's Mom: "I was just dozing off and I felt this huge--" LMBO!!

Mark rings 'round to congratulate the new face of British current affairs. Sigh. Did I mention how delicious Colin Firth is in this movie?

"The gravy needs sieving."
"Surely not, just stirred it, Una."

So cute! A great tie-in from the beginning when they first met.

LOVE the look on Tom's face when Bridget says they have two more lovely courses to go! LOL

And the way Mark looks at Bridget when Jude goes for the door? Awe. So sweet - he's really falling in love with her!

Then - in comes Daniel Cleaver. Halt the music.

Dumped by the young American, eh? And so now he returns to get back in the sack with Bridget on her birthday. Uh.

"Shall I bring my dueling pistols or my, sword?" Again, excellent delivery by Hugh Grant!

The fight? Eh. And I can't believe Bridget actually takes up for slimy Daniel at the end, and yells at Mark...but good on her for leaving Daniel lying there. (Hey, a well-placed pun!)

"Bugger off!" Scrooge much, Bridge? LOL

Awe...sweet reunion between Bridget's Mom and Dad...but I find I always wind up trying to avoid a visual of the make-up sex, for sure. LOL

It's too funny how Bridget nearly gives her parents a heart attack speeding to the wedding party in all that snowfall, LOL.

And here we go again with that annoying Natasha. "Mark??" Argh! Go away! LOL

So now Bridget has something she wants to say. And it was very well said! Clever how she parallels what Mark said to her at Magda's and Jeremy's.

OK, I have to ask...Is it just me, or does Mark's mom look like a dude? Seriously...?

Tom: "If he didn't leap over the family heirlooms and whip you up in his arms, then sod him!" LOL!

Now this must be true love, right? To go all the way to New York City, blow off a prestigious law firm partnership, then turn right around and return to London?

I love this scene - Mark showing up just as Bridget's about to leave for Paris! He's apparently ready for that tongue-down-the-throat thing Shazzer mentioned...

OK. Bridget running through the snowfilled streets, in her tiger-print, "genuinely tiny knickers"? Priceless. But seriously - who would actually do that without throwing on a bottom?? The one and only Bridget Jones, I suppose, LOL!

And finally. A brand new diary. A brand new start. And the way "nice boys" kiss. Yummy.

And Van Morrison's back. Yay! Love it. Fade to black.

"I like you. Just as you are."

Monday, January 3, 2011

❦ Remember Me (2010)

This film has the most beautiful score, I can’t praise it enough! It brilliantly accents each scene, subliminally telling the story, and makes them memorable. The overall tone and atmosphere are rich. I can almost smell the NYC breezes in many of the outdoor scenes.

Robert Pattinson seems to die into the character of Tyler Hawkins. I’m totally thinking of him as Tyler throughout the movie—my litmus test for superb acting.

There’s good chemistry among the cast. I get a good sense of the blended family; Mom’s remarried to Les, but the loss of Michael keeps Dad in the picture and they’re able to spend time together, civilly, in his memory. It’s very sweet, touching and poignant. We see that Dad’s work kept him away too much, and eventually broke up the family. There’s lots of pain in this history, and I feel the off-screen back-story very strongly.

Again, the score completely grips my heart, and opens me up to this family, the characters, the circumstances.

Tyler and Caroline’s relationship? Adorable. It’s sweet how important Caroline is to Tyler; and he takes very good care of his precocious little sister, even though he’s now out living on his own. He picks her up from school; he’s always looking out for her. Very nice.

The relationship between Ally and her father is also very well established. He’s excessively protective, post her mom’s awful murder. He’s lost his wife, and his daughter’s all he’s got left. He’s a cop, and feels he should be able to protect his own. I like the nice banter between them about seeing Erin Brochovich twice and dad crying. They love each other, but it’s clear 21-year-old Ally has outgrown this protective nest.

For a girl from Queens, Ally doesn’t have much of a New York accent, does she?

Good background songs, they compliment the scenes very nicely.

Tyler and Ally goofing off in the tub. How disgusting is that shower?? Clean much, bachelors? LOL

About the scene when Ally gets home after spending the night out…I feel instead of her saying, “You strangle me ‘cause you couldn’t save mom--” she should’ve said something like, “You suffocate me because we lost mom…” or “How long are you going to suffocate me because we lost mom?” That would’ve made the scene even stronger, and tightened up the emotional delivery. It feels like a missed opportunity to strengthen the emotional potency of the film.

Great love scene sequence between Tyler and Ally! The Sigur Rós song is pitch perfect, and I love how it carries right over into Ty’s coffee shop visit the following morning.

Now. When he gets back from journaling at the coffee shop, and he and Ally talk in his bedroom, I can feel how this was the perfect time for him to tell Ally about her dad arresting him and Aiden. But, of course, Tyler, now falling in love with Ally, is too afraid of what will happen when she finds this out; he’s too afraid of losing her. I feel sorry for Ty…because Ally is opening up so beautifully in this scene; she's letting him in, sharing the most personal thing about the complicated relationship with her father. How could he know it was the perfect time to tell her? Sigh.

The dinner scene. Feels a little smash cut. Ally confides she was with her mom when she was killed, and Charles just says, “And here you are.” This feels like a missed opportunity to enhance the film’s immediate emotional impact. I would’ve liked to hear him gently ask about how the loss has affected her, if at all, or something along those lines. We need a little more light shed on how the murder affected her life. We know how it’s affected her dad, but we’re never really shown how it affected Ally, the female lead, witnessing the loss of her mother at such a young age, and in such a violent way! She doesn't take the subway and has her dessert first, but did she need therapy? Did she have any mother figures? Is it possible that Mrs. Lipman, mentioned early on as a ride to school, played some role in Ally’s life after the murder?

That shooting was prominently featured, as the opening scene for the entire story. We definitely needed more of Ally’s reaction to it. I feel it would’ve made the film stronger, much more electric at box office time.

I’m touched when we see Ally’s dad playing his daughter’s message a second time. You can just feel how he’s going to listen to it over and over, right? You can feel how much he loves his daughter, and still mourns the loss of her mother, his wife. The score is so lovely throughout this sequence.

OK. The “Leo, you’re off duty” insert? Total fail. It doesn’t work at all and it takes a few watches to figure out whether he was following her or just happened to see her on the train. In the end, we’re still not really sure! This part needed to be explained somewhere later on in the script.

When Aiden goes over to Ally’s house and tries to talk her into forgiving Tyler, there was another missed opportunity. Ally needed to say, “He used me. Big time.” vs. “He lied to me.” In this context, ‘used’ is more emotionally accurate than 'lied,' and much more appropriate for the circumstance. This would've given the movie a stronger emotional impact, as well.

Tyler bringing Caroline to school after the hair-hacking incident; it’s so sweet how concerned and attentive he is, picking up her pencil and asking if she’s okay after she takes her seat. I can feel the love and protectiveness of an older brother for his little sister.

I love Tyler discovering and watching the screen saver collage in his dad’s office. Very nicely done. Sweet, with absolutely lovely scoring.

Now, my thoughts on the ending. In the interest of illustrating the tragedy of 9/11/01, it’s totally OK that Tyler’s the one who tragically dies in place of his father in the Trade Center - BUT - in order for us to swallow losing our narrator like that, we needed to see Ally boarding that subway with a baby bump, or with a toddler – with Tyler’s child. She’s taking him/her to visit Tyler’s family. The end.

The blow of Tyler’s death would’ve been far less bitter for the audience. But capping the film showing that Ally is now able to take the subway? So what? It feels extremely haphazard and disjointed, in view of my earlier thought that we don’t really get much of the affect her mom’s death had on her as a young woman…So Tyler died and she’s now taking the subway? Who cares? Where’s the connection? We needed this tied together. Why? Because you shockingly and abruptly killed off our narrator! We need some major soothing after that. If Ally had been pregnant when he died and was now taking the subway with a baby bump or with their child…well, now you’ve got a brilliant story, touching and poignant. And most of all, soothing. We can now leave the theater feeling very satisfied about the story we were just told, despite the awful blow at the end. There will be an urge to encourage others to go and see it. Instead, you leave thinking, “Wow. He died. And she started riding the subway.”

And then people have to ask you how the movie was. There’s zero spark for word-spreading. The ending could've served the film as a whole so much better. We know loss happens in real life, but as an author, I've learned that the key to storytelling is making the audience feel satisfied in the end. Alas, no one asked me what I thought before the final cut of this film! LOL

Anyway, I do have the score on CD. It is so beautiful! One of the best I’ve ever heard.

The things I love about this movie override its flaws. But if it weren’t for the points I mentioned above, I think it could’ve been a huge word-of-mouth hit at the box office. I really wish more people had seen this film!

Remember Me is a film about grief, grief, and more grief. But it’s also equally a film about value, good memories, good families and friends, and about finding love and living life. It's a good one.

“Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch...”

❦ Sabrina (1995)

(I saw the original 1954 Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn years ago, but don't remember enough to make any comparisons, so my thoughts on the 1995 remake aren't in any way comparative.)

I love the opening sequence of this movie. The piano melody under Sabrina’s voice makes me feel tranquil, ready to be swept up into the story. It makes the opening memorable; and it’s pleasantly familiar each time I see the film.

Sabrina’s transformation is brilliant. I think it’s amazing that Julia Ormond was able to play both the pre- and post-Paris Sabrina—she looks so incredibly different! She very convincingly goes from young girl, to grown woman. She even seems taller when she gets back from Paris, although it’s unclear in the film just how long she was away. Kudos to the costume designers—they made excellent choices for creating the illusion of a growth spurt: the long loose-fitting clothes pre-Paris made her appear shorter.

I love the relationship between Sabrina and her dad.

Although as a whole, the film fails to make an emotional connection, I really connect with the emotion of many scenes in the film, and I suspect this is a credit to the actors. I can feel Sabrina’s infatuation with David, how he’s her entire world until she grows up a bit.

In Paris, I enjoy Sabrina’s friendship with Irene, and what she says about Sabrina seeming to be embarrassed by loneliness—it’s just a place to start. Such a lovely scene. And the cutaway is too abrupt. It needed a few more seconds, to serve the film as a whole.

Absolutely love the kitchen staff scenes - Rosa is hilarious! However, the cutaways from these scenes are much too jarring, too abrupt. Needed a few more seconds before the cut.

I love Sabrina and Louis dancing in the club in Paris! Great song and great scene! So happy to see Sabrina making friends and beginning to bloom. ☺

Good chemistry between Linus and David. And Linus and their mother, Maude. Enjoy those scenes.

Sabrina looked so beautiful for the Larrabee party. I love that dress! It seems perfect on her, like lovely and unpretentious haute couture.

I get a very classic, old-Hollywood feel as I watch David and Sabrina dancing together at the party. Very classy and quaint. Lovely music from the orchestra, compliments the scene well.

Lovely poem about how Sabrina got her name, and I like how it ties into her relationship with Linus.

Sabrina really does save Linus. She shows him a whole new dimension to life and living. He had no idea. As he said, he did what his dad did; who did was his dad did. And Sabrina saying: “But that’s work. Where do you live, Linus?” Brilliant.

Nice development of Linus' and Sabrina's falling in love.

I especially like the scene when Linus and Sabrina return from dinner in the city to find David waiting in the driveway. It's clear that Sabrina is now falling in love with Linus, and that the David fantasy has finally been cracked.

The film has a lovely score - it just needed more of it in some of the key scenes!

Which leads to one of my biggest disappointments with this movie…Sabrina’s second visit to Linus’ office is so wonderfully acted, but this is an instance where score is sorely missed. Their words drop like dead weight without it. The inclusion of the score would’ve lifted the rich emotions of this scene right into my heart. Instead, it seems as if it doesn’t even belong in the movie! The scene is left bare, dry and very boring. It stops the pace dead. Why, oh why, was this entire sequence not scored? Who made this decision? Big, big mistake. Huge. I would venture to say this is what killed this movie’s chance for word-of-mouth buzz at box office time. It’s that important.

Scoring would’ve even made their first kiss much more emotional, more exciting.

In general, the cutaways in this film are too abrupt and jarring; they don’t allow for seamless viewing, and I think this is one of the main reasons this movie requires multiple views before it can make its way into your heart. The editor is in the way.

Cute seeing the basketball goal in David’s office. Like “The Rons.” And Patrick Tyson is hilarious.

It’s nice to see that David was capable of stepping up to the company plate in the end, taking over for Linus.

And I like how Sabrina’s little speech, meant for David in the beginning of the film, was, by the end, meant for Linus. I can actually imagine their life together in Paris: lovely, passionate, happy.

“Save me, Sabrina Fair.”