Tag: Anna Kendrick

Happy Christmas

July 18th, 2014 — 7:43am

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Happy Christmas –sp This is a Joe Swanberg independent low budget production, for which he also wrote the screenplay, directed it , played a leading role and had his under two year old son play his son in the film. The story opens as we meet Jeff (Joe Swanberg) and his wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) who seem happy enough with their young son (Jade Swanberg- who actually gives a great performance)). Kelly is a stay at home mom who is a novelist and has had a book published. Their happy abode is interrupted by a visit for a undetermined duration by Jenny, Jeff’s sister (Anna Kendrick) who just broke up with her boyfriend. She is “a piece of work” as she develops a quick sexual relationship with young neighborhood guy (Mark Webber) who sells her pot. She smokes and drinks her self repeatedly to near oblivion and almost burns down the house. In between there is lots of interesting women’s talk with her good friend Carson (Lena Dunham of Girls fame) and Kelly. In fact Kelly is convinced by Jenny in a sober moment that she should try to become financially well off by putting aside her serious attempt to write another novel and instead write a popular novel ,best seller type, based on life style information that Jenny will provide. The point would seem to be that there could be a pathway for a bright woman other than by “just being a full time housewife.” The fact is that the movie doesn’t really go anyplace and never intends to go anyplace. It is a study of these characters with a minimal story and much dialogue that we learned from a post film interview with two of the actors was improvised for much of the time and was achieved on film in one or two takes for each scene. It seems to be part of the new “Mumblecore” genre which attempts to achieve naturalistic performances, without a clear narrative structure often using a great deal of improvisation. We tried to consider if it was successful by one of us acknowledging that the action did hold one’s attention but we both agreed that we really couldn’t recommend the film to anyone to spend 78 minutes with it. Maybe the film could be used in a teaching setting to demonstrate the devastating trajectory of a young woman with a Borderline Personality although we really didn’t have very much backstory on her to fully understand her. We did get the feeling that the story did not convey the potential grave prognosis for a character such as Jenny unless she were to get some serious therapy. But that is another story. (2014)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Drama

Pitch Perfect

October 1st, 2012 — 2:09am


Pitch Perfect- sp

It is hard to believe that the script for this film was written and the deal signed for the movie before the TV Series Glee showed it’s first episode. This is the Glee kids go to college and join an a cappella  singing group, compete in the regional finals and ultimately in the big finals at Lincoln Center. (It has nothing to do with that popular TV series). But, it still  has  various types (or stereotypes) of kids in the group and the singing and dancing are great. The story line is as you would expect with no big surprises but you still root for your favorites and you are moved by their determination and energy. The humor is clever and effective and there is lots of it. The photography of the singing and dancing (all without musical accompaniment since it is a cappella) is really done well. Think of those musicals with Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers with camera work from all angles and everyone looks great. Although we were not familiar with most of the songs, the energy and moods were easily conveyed. Much of the credit for the successful translation of this musical event to the screen goes to Jason Moore who makes his movie-directing debut. Why did the powers that be trust a first time movie director with a musical extravaganza? Well, he directed the wildly successful Broadway musical Avenue Q and clearly knew what he was doing. Anna Kendrick who received an Academy Award nomination as supporting actress in Up in the Air  now shows she can dance and sing. So do a large group of young actors and actresses including Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow , Anna Camp and Rebel Wilson all who we are sure we will hear more about in the future. (2012)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Musical


April 24th, 2012 — 10:26pm


50/50- nf  A 27 year old single guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)  gets a diagnosis of cancer with a 50/50 chance of survival. His girl friend (Bryce Dallas Howard) gets him a boney dog but can’t handle the situation and they break up. His mother (Angelica Huston) as usual tries to smother him. His best buddy (Seth Rogen) sticks by him and decides that this will be a great pick up line to get girls. Rogen’s comedic style carries the movie and allows a painful subject to be appreciated in a more palatable manner. Admittedly as a psychiatrist and a social worker who have trained medical students and physicians how to talk to patients, it was disappointing to see the cancer specialist as being quite insensitive. It also was a little disheartening to see the student therapist (Anna Kendrick) who was supposed to help him deal with the situation, act out a romantic crush that she developed for him. But it was done in good taste and, after all, it is only a movie. On the other hand the back-story for the film is quite authentic. As shown in the bonus feature of the DVD, the script writer (Will Reiser) actually lived this story and his best friend who stood by him through this ordeal was Seth Rogen. (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

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