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Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

How ironic that the girl who doesn’t care much for romantic comedies would actually like what is billed as “the ultimate romantic comedy”.    It’s also the ultimate palate cleanser for when you’ve overdosed on a certain horror series.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking.   I know you think I only like this because a certain actor is in it, and you’re wrong!   All wrong!    I mean, sure, that helps…but come on.   There’s more to it than that!

It’s the overlapping story of a whole bunch of folks living in London and their various stories involving love set around Christmas time.   Cue the “awwww”s right about now.    There’s the Prime Minister and his secretary; his sister and her husband; a man who has lost his wife to cancer and his stepson, who is in love; stand-ins on an adult film; a jilted writer and his housekeeper, neither of whom speak each other’s languages; a past-his-prime rock star and his manager; two office workers with problems of their own; a happy couple with a friend who loves the bride thrown into the mix, and so on and so forth.   All stories flow in and out of each other surprisingly well.   Some are very well done and others are just…so typically Hollywood romantic that I can’t get quite involved in them.

Love Actually has its problems.   Like all romantic comedies, at some point I find myself spacing a bit.  What makes me like Love Actually is the variety.   Even though the idea of 8 million people having their own stories shoved into one movie gets very overloaded very quickly, the variety is really, really nice, especially because I can fast-forward past the ones I don’t care for.

I’ve never pinned down exactly why I don’t like romantic comedies, but I think part of it is that things like this don’t particularly appeal to me as “romantic” or make me sigh, in the slightest.

My version of a romantic comedy would never get made, because it would involve that man (maybe, he could always be recast) holding a copy of Die Hard and Die Hard II and no silly sign.   My standards:  they are low…I think.

It’s the less syrup-y stuff that gets me.   Like Bill Nighy as the aging rocker who insults everyone and everything live – on the radio, on TV, in his videos.   Or Emma Thompson, as Alan Rickman’s poor, put-upon wife.

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Somewhere, J.D.‘s laughing at me, I feel fairly sure.

Okay, I get the premise of this film.   Princess Raccoon is actually a raccoon spirit trapped in a human body who falls in love with a human prince with typically dramatic results.   It’s a fairy tale!

It’s got singing and dancing and huge musical numbers.   It feels a lot like a lot of film productions of The Nutcracker do where it seems to be shot on a theater set.   But mostly…my head hurts.

My head hurts from the talking golden frog and the weird raccoon masks.  My head hurts because of the weird scenes in which the Prince and Princess go sailing down a stream that’s straight out of a Japanese watercolor.   My head hurts because that was an awful lot of pretty costuming and scenery to jam into my brain in a very short time period.

My brain can’t quite churn through it all.   I liked the story, but it feels like the plot takes a distinct back seat to whatever the director can shove into the movie like golden raccoon traps and an enormous palace full of singing guards and simpering handmaidens.   The costumes are to die for.   The makeup’s exquisite and Zhang Ziyi is awesome in this (I can see why J.D. loves her so).

I really, thoroughly enjoyed it.   It was out of my comfort zone, but in a great way.   The problem is, I’m not quite sure to put into words exactly what Princess Raccoon is because I’m not quite sure there’s been anything in my memory, at least, that can even serve as a reference point for this movie.

It feels odd that a movie should leave me stricken and at a complete loss for words, but Princess Raccoon managed to do just that.   It’s…almost indescribable.

It’s pretty, but it felt like such a mind-bender.    It’s the cinematic equivalent of having a double shot of warm sake with a peyote chaser.   It’s a bizarrely beautiful movie.    In its oddity, there’s a lot of awesomeness there.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to lie down and take a few aspirin.   I have a feeling this movie’s going to give me some fairly weird dreams.

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Barefoot in the Park tells the story of two people who get married who are vastly different – one is a free spirit while the other is straight-laced as can be – who try and make their marriage work as best they can while still coming to an understanding of what marriage involves as well as a better understanding of the other spouse.  Living in a fifth-floor apartment in Manhattan which has the world’s longest flights of stairs and that’s practically falling down around their ears with some very eccentric neighbors certainly doesn’t help the situation they find themselves in.

It’s by Neil Simon, who I’m not an enormous fan of, but I re-rented this because, well, I liked it the first time I saw it.   By now, I don’t think it should be an enormous surprise to anyone that I’m not an extreme fan of romantic comedies (I think the only “romantic” movie I own is probably Hope Floats, unless you woke up with a concussion this morning and view Predator as being “romantic”).   But I like this movie.

I still like it, even watching it ten or so years later.   The direction’s good; Robert Redford is (a) smoking hot and (b) fantastically fantastic in this.   All of the supporting cast are wonderful, especially one of the in-laws.   The film’s good.   It’s got a great ending.   I’d rewatch it…except…

Jane Fonda.

It’s like some sort of switch flipped in my brain somewhere along the way in between viewings and I didn’t notice.   What caused this?  Maybe I got sick of Jane Fonda.   Maybe I had a traumatic head injury.   Maybe I was abducted by aliens.    I’m going to go with the whole “abducted by aliens” thing, because maybe then I could at least get a book deal out of it.   But Jane Fonda makes me grit my teeth all the way through this movie.  As Corie, Redford’s wife, she plays her role in a very perky, overexcited fashion.   Not that the character of Corie’s not written to be flighty and a little neurotic, because she is.   Fonda, however, plays her as so exuberant and excitable that it makes me start developing that twitch in the corner of my eye that I can’t stop.

Really, the movie’s worth it to see just for Robert Redford.   He takes what could’ve been a very bland character and even in his humdrum normalcy gives it a lot of life and a lot more depth than I think somebody else would have.   And it’s good to see this one for the supporting cast.

Just make sure you bring your mouthguard for Fonda.   God.

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