Monday, December 28, 2015

Carol


You don't have to look far to find the word 'masterpiece' attached to Carol.  The film has garnered a significant amount of praise since its debut at Cannes last summer, and the critical swoon has continued in a winter flurry of write-ups quick to analyze is intense interest in nuance, the way it seems paced to mimic the seductive qualities of its title character, how it uses a grainy film stock and a muted palette while still allowing us to name-drop Douglas Sirk.  

Indeed, Carol is a beautiful piece of work in many ways, and there's a strong case to be made for the so-perfect-it-feels-near-serendipitous pairing of director Todd Haynes with novelist Patricia Highsmith. Carol is based on her second novel, published at the time under a pseudonym: 1952's The Price of Salt.  Highsmith's prose tends towards the psychological, but often (or, at least, in the case of Tom Ripley) fixates on the importance of appearances.  Haynes is a filmmaker who has long been interested in precisely these themes, stressing style as central to substance and exploring the role of artifice in queer culture. We need only to look to the Oscar Wilde-style quips uttered by Velvet Goldmine's pop idols to understand Haynes' general philosophy.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens


That sound you heard was a collective sigh of relief from super nerds and casual fans everywhere. We have been patiently waiting, but doing so with reluctance and a constant, superstitious circle of denial.  "It will probably be disappointing," we would say, "we need to lower our expectations and brace ourselves for it to be bad."  So we couldn't let ourselves get too excited, we'd been burned before - by Jar Jar Binks, too much space bureaucracy, actors who acted in a void - and that sort of heartbreak leaves scars.  The resurrected franchise needed to be good, and - more than that - it needed to be taken back, reclaimed as the magical thing it was.  Star Wars transcends the place of most pop cultural monoliths in that it is so intricately woven into the fabrics of so many of our childhoods.

The original trilogy is not a mere collection of movies, it is an idea, a dream, a feeling, a game, a bond, a series of of memories, a contemporary mythology, a fairy tale.  For many of us, Star Wars is a part of our daily language and a means we have of recognizing figures in our world. Though our re-watches may be few and far between, and those original films have been retooled and tampered with in ways that make us unsure just what was what, we have a feeling of these films as important texts only to be used for good.  To dare to return to this galaxy is to take on a very great responsibility. George Lucas himself did not know how to do it, but, thankfully, J.J. Abrams does.  We voyage back, we see the same eyes in different people, we gaze upon planets that have changed even as they have remained the same, we see the cycles of history repeat.

Youth


Sure, there's some fairly contrived dialogue scattered throughout Youth.  And yeah, I'm not going to pretend that it isn't inaccurate to say it packs an outsized number of themes and threads into a package that can't quite contain them.  Yes, absolutely, you can even make the argument that it gets a bit masturbatory about its own importance or descends - almost grotesquely - into something too sentimental.  You're right, too, that we could use a version of this with women playing a more active role.  But none of that matters. There are some films we are just individually predisposed to enjoying, just as there are songs we may fall victim to because of a twist in the melody or a specific quality in the singer's voice.  Youth is one such film for me, a beautiful, texturally rich descent into a world-weary pool of exhausted, slow moving European culture mongers.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sisters


I love Tina Fey. I love Amy Poehler. I will watch them in most things, especially if there's the promise of them riffing off one another or collaborating on a gag.  So, I've watched a little too many of the press appearances leading up to the release of Sisters, maybe, and I have to say: I think some of those late night interviews and viral marketing strategies may have been a little slicker than the actual movie. While I certainly laughed during the film, Sisters stands as a reminder that for everything these two women do well: television, screenwriting, essay writing, awards show hosting, etc, deciding which movies to actually star in is neither's strong suit.  I say this though it's often easy to see the appeal of their films and Sisters is no exception.  The film is fun, light, and looks like it was a blast to make.  The decision to cast Fey and Poehler as siblings, too, can be counted as one as inspired as it was inevitable.  They have that sort of familial chemistry, a visible bond that surpasses the fact that they look alike only when gazing upon someone with total disinterest.   

Monday, December 21, 2015

Macbeth



Fair is foul and foul is fair in Justin Kurzel's adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth.  The Aussie director has offered up a visceral version of the Scottish play, one that amps up that battle bloodshed and drains color from its palette.  There's a special kind of chaos to Kurzel's vision, one he sets up with an opening sequence beyond the confines of the play.  Here, we watch as the family Macbeth (Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard) bury a child. They grieve, they place the scales over his eyes, they descend into the dense fog of madness.  In the shift from grief to the gritty expanses of Kurzel's slow-motion battle sequences, we are able to see Fassbender's Macbeth as an absent presence, one curiously still as armies fall.  Though we may find ourselves hypnotized by the dark beauty of so many of the film's moments, a distance is placed between audience and film.  We can almost see the strange dissonance that separates us from Macbeth, and we can watch as the Weird Sisters do, stock still on hilltops above the moors, feeding off the flecks of dirt and blood that rise up from the choreographed violence.  It's striking, lovely in its way even as it chills.  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Brooklyn


Brooklyn is a coming of age story, the tale of an immigrant, and a period drama -- or, at least, this is what people keep telling me. Saoirse Ronan stars as Eilis, a young woman who escapes a depressed small town in Ireland with the help of the local church.  She leaves her mother and sister to go and live in Brooklyn, where she lives in a boarding house with a group of gossiping girls, works in a department store, and takes night classes to become a bookkeeper. Ostensibly, all of this adds up to a film mostly about one girl balancing a life of tradition with a new world opportunity, and - sure- it is. Brooklyn finds Eilis grappling with her allegiances at nearly every turn, but in a way so sweet and glowingly nostalgic that it hits a false note. By the time we see the story begin to turn its attentions to a gentle love affair between Eilis and Tony (Emory Cohen) a kind, rather dim Italian kid, the film begins to feel a little too much like the vaguely cerebral version of a Nicholas Sparks melodrama.  

Spotlight


Sometimes awards season presents me with unexpected quandaries. What to do, for example, with Spotlight, a "based on a true story" drama that manages to actually become a thought provoking, enraging-yet-positive film going experience?  It's a hell of a lot better than another watered down morality play or record-expunging biopic.  The thing has a pulse and a brain, enough energy to remain entertaining even as it feels like the sort of story meant for a sparsely staged theatrical production or a rarely checked-out nonfiction text.  Yet, it's filmed with such a lack of aplomb that it almost seems like the living version of the newsprint journalism it covers.  

The story follows the Boston Globe's investigative 'Spotlight' team as they work to unearth the truth of widespread molestation allegations and cover-ups in the Catholic Church. The real life story broke in 2001,  and while I have a vague recollection of this coming out as a thing the masses were shocked by (though many seemed to take it as confirmation of a - sadly - foregone conclusion), the movie hits all the right notes to allow it to seem like a potent and necessary reminder of just how little has likely changed.  Spotlight is a political piece of art, and a good one if we measure it by its ability to take what we already know, re-frame it, show us nothing of the actual horror, but enrage us all over again. While we're largely confined to file rooms, courthouses, and office spaces, we are made to understand both the severity of events and the pressure of getting the information exactly right.  So, it's a good movie. It may even be a great movie in some ways.  And yet - as noted - it's also a bit of a quandary.  Why?  Well, for all its merits in acting, writing, and pacing, it's the sort of film venture that doesn't seem to take any advantage of the medium it's using.  There's a muted flatness here, something so bland that at times the film has the visual impact of listening to an especially gripping episode of Serial.  For a movie that could benefit from reaching viewers, it skimps on style and doesn't bother pretending that most are going to watch it on anything larger than their tablet.  

The Night Before


The Night Before plays like a sort of Christmas miracle.  It's a late coming of age story for a batch of delayed adults, a film in which small scale holiday traditions battle and blend with a reluctant acceptance of traditional values. The idea of tradition is the movie's backbone, though what that means for the characters is at times unclear.  Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is presented as the friend about to be left behind.  He's emotionally stunted, seems to have a string of menial jobs (we meet him as a cater waiter), dumped his girlfriend (Lizzy Caplan) because she wanted him to meet her parents, and harbors a long-term seasonal obsession with a mysterious, invite-only party called The Nutcracker Ball.  This is his last chance, the final year of an all-out holiday bacchanal with his two lifelong friends, Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie).  Chris has become a successful athlete, too big to hang out inconspicuously  Isaac's wife (Jillian Bell) is about to give birth.  Each is in their own makeshift crisis of ego and expectation, prepared to cast aside childish things even as they dread the very idea of what that might mean.  So it is that when Ethan *magically* comes into three party tickets, the friends get together for a drug-fueled, debauched  Christmas odyssey.  Visions of sugar plums are replaced with psychotropic hallucinations, karaoke choreography, a wandering hipster 'Grinch' (Ilana Glazer), and something that's almost a dick-pic meet cute.
From all of this - along with a hearty dose of fairly inspired comedic blaspheming -  the crew manages to maintain a dose of holiday sentimentality that keeps the film palatable even as Isaac records a manic, coke-addled video cursing out his unborn child and the life changes it brings.  Though profane, there's a charm to each of these actors that allows us to understand the spirit of what they mean even as that's not always what they say.  As the guys run through New York on their quest to complete a long-standing checklist, they build a chaotic energy that courses through the film.  While there's something about the editing that doesn't feel quite right, the thing is a surreal kind of bright, tacky, stupid display of bad behavior that comes from a good place.  Just as Superbad reveled in a schmaltzy friendship love, The Night Before has real relationships at its center and a twisted sense of traditional storytelling.  There's a touch of A Christmas Carol here, a hint of It's a Wonderful Life, a general understanding of the way the best holiday tales weave together a seasonal sadness or sense of loss with joy and revelation.  Lessons are learned, wrongs are righted. By the time the credits roll, all is peaceful, even if we have a roving, philosophically-minded pot dealer (Michael Shannon) to thank for it.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Spectre



People keep telling me that they're exhausted by Spectre.  It's the most common criticism I've heard, circulated in a handful of clickbait features and now repeated by many wary about even seeing the film: Daniel Craig looks bored, he's getting too old for this, it's uninspired, it's no Skyfall.   Some of that is par for the course, the rest I completely disagree with.  This is Daniel Craig's fourth outing as James Bond, and while 007 himself may be more jaded than ever, the saga continues.  Craig's Bond has slowly evolved. We've watched him suffer tragedy after tragedy, he has long been marked, doomed, left to exist as a shadowy figure only occasionally reaching out for something that feels like genuine human contact.  In the wake of Skyfall we find him with fewer support systems than ever before, carrying out jobs he knows need to be done in much the way many would go about routine errands.  There's a sense of business as usual that's made more exciting only by MI6's repeated attempts to keep him grounded.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Room



Room is the type of film you go to and you tell yourself that it's about gut-punches, that it's about re-evaluating the small things you don't appreciate in life and giving yourself over to something moving, horrifying, and profound.  A young woman (Brie Larson) and her 5-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) are held captive in a small, shoddy space.  It it all that Jack has ever known, and he speaks in terms that limit the possibilities of the outside.  Things beyond 'Room' are not real, the names he knows for objects seem to make them the only versions of their kind, and there's a perverse storybook logic to his naive relationship with the objects left only to keep them alive as a shadowy figure, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) makes his nightly visits.  Because Jack controls the narration, we know the young woman only as Ma but understand her as a girl interrupted, a figure trying desperately to protect the innocence of the child she now has in spite of the circumstances surrounding his conception.  She is a mother though she should not be one, and in 'Room' she oscillates between lamenting the life cut short for her and wanting, desperately, to reclaim that for her son.     

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2



Perhaps I have spent too much time thinking about the fate of Katniss Everdeen this last year, but my feelings on the closing chapter of The Hunger Games saga have me at a strange juncture.  The final minutes (spoilers to come) leave me with a keen sense of betrayal, though til this point I am surprised only by the film's sudden interest in elision.  The franchise had been, to this point, partially remarkable because of the time it spent with its characters and its interest developing a functional logic for its dystopian world. It's a patience I've appreciated, as there's something to be said for a teen-oriented action film that seems to specialize in remaining still.  In Mockingjay, Part 2, that stillness has not gone, but it does feel as though it is now being used to avoid necessary developments of other kinds.  It's not a calm so much as - suddenly - a refusal to continue a psychological investigation or to to succumb to commonly used montage sequences.  So it is that we don't see Katniss prepare for her military stint, or we don't see the carnage she actually has a hand in inflicting, or we don't see the years she suffers an understandable PTSD.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Steve Jobs



There's a significant amount of discussion given to the 'reality distortion field' in the latest exhuming of Steve Jobs.  The term points to the Apple magnate's reported skill in bending the boundaries of the real for those in his employ.  He was said to have had the charisma, the intellect, the presence to convince others - even while being a merciless asshole - that the impossible was within reach, that deadlines could be achieved, and sometimes, that he had a product worth selling even when it was more of an incomplete concept.  Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) lends his brand of quick witted, layered banter to Jobs and those who suffered him.  Sorkin's dialogue makes sense here, but revels in its constructed nature.  From the mouth of Michael Fassbender's Steve Jobs, it plays like a believable fiction. Realism, maybe, but only because we want to believe in the rapid-fire acts of creation and destruction of a compelling figure like Jobs.  While at times performer and writer manage to harness the charisma required for us to believe in something like the reality distortion field, the film largely loses track of that, mostly revealing the legend for what he was: a hyper-focused, one-track minded, self-centered control freak in it for the long con.  

Bridge of Spies




Bridge of Spies is a film out of time.  It's the type of production that looks and feels like it was crafted long ago and only recently re-mastered to highlight its glossy production values.  While it’s not really an instant classic, it’s also hard to deny that it feels a bit like one because of these things.  It’s a beautifully shot, lovingly paced adult drama that’s somehow out of step with the current cinematic moment.  In a time when we’ve become a little too accustomed to our “serious” movies leaning heavily on social justice biopics and effects-laden war stories,  Bridge of Spies is a quiet affair that emphasizes conversation, ethical complications, and rounded, messy human beings who don’t simply stand in as symbols of larger systems.    This is strange, perhaps, because of course: that’s exactly what the characters in Steven Spielberg’s Cold War film kinda actually do at some basic level.   It’s not that Bridge isn’t that movie – it’s the story of James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) and Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) the Soviet spy he’s assigned to give a fair trial to --  it’s just that Spielberg manages to complicate that narrative, split the film’s focus, and transport the viewer through a distinct sense of place and time.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Crimson Peak



Guillermo del Toro is a man who loves his horror films, but who has always seemed aware of their far-reaching roots. He understands something about the genre beyond the cinematic and into the literary.  He has looked to fairy tales and metaphor to tell stories of war and present us with vampires like we have never seen, and with Crimson Peak he seems to reach for a pure adaptation of the Gothic.  Not a Gothic romance,  not simply a Gothic haunting, but a vision of secrets, repression, active atmosphere and spaces that seem to breathe with the past histories of their masters.   It straddles the worlds of horror and period drama, but it understands that it is possible to do both without succumbing fully to either.  What does that mean? For English major purists, it’s a dreamy concoction.  For everyone else?  Well, you’re likely to find yourself as split as the film seems.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sicario



Sicario opens on a horror show.  We follow Kate Mercer (Emily Blunt), an FBI agent leading a steadfast kidnap-response team into a suburban house.  Something is off, wrong, and it isn’t long before the team discovers dozens of upright corpses decomposing behind the drywall.  In every room, in every hallway they are unrecognizable, wrapped in plastic, the sight and stench forcing agents to vomit in the desert yard.  It’s a visceral moment, a sequence that sets the tone of director Denis Villeneuve’s (Prisoners, Incendies) latest feel-bad nightmare.  We have trespassed into uncomfortable terrain with Kate as our proxy, less protagonist than the film’s wary, conflicted moral center.

Kate and her partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) are soon drafted onto a special task force headed by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a man who we understand as having real power:  he’s the sort who can wear flip-flops to meetings with high level government suits and have no one bat an eye.  His answers are no answers, and Kate is never quite sure what it is she’s signed on to do with this task force built, we’re told, to “stir the pot.” Alongside Matt, the force works with the even more mysterious Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), a vigilante figure with unclear intentions. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Martian




Andy Weir's novel The Martian was one of those rare self-publishing success stories; a sudden, runaway success that seemed to captivate readers of all ages.  It was a process-oriented page turner, a thing that put the science back into a type of science fiction. I wanted to like the book, but really I just couldn't stand it. The first person narration didn't work for me. It rang false, empty, too steadfast and cheeky for the nuances of the situation.  Without a single soul to talk to, with nothing but time to plan, think, and exist, what does astronaut Mark Watney do in his down time?  He keeps a steadfast log that includes every shred of his process and not a damn thing about his person.  Sure. Right. You send a smart person into space and leave them alone for months and hundreds of pages later you still don't feel like you actually know the guy. You know his life on Mars, you know he's a flat, can-do dude, but that's about it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Diary of a Teenage Girl



I’m a very jaded filmgoer, as things go.  I’ve seen a lot. I’m willing to accept a lot.  Morally ambiguous characters tend not to leave much of a mark on me, and the horrors of the world are the horrors of the world.  So, I was surprised when I was actually a little uncomfortable watching The Diary of a Teenage Girl.  The film is adapted from the alt comic “memoirs” of Phoebe Gloeckner by  writer/director Marielle Heller, and has received a tremendous amount of attention as a feminist film.  It is, certainly, in many respects.  The film prominently features distinct female voices and speaks to the strange individualized experiences of an awkward young woman who discovers – at a relatively tender age – just how much she loves sex.   Minnie (Bel Powley), our wide-eyed protagonist, is tenacious in her exploration and often very much in control of the ways she decides to use her body. Some of these uses feel self-exploitive, and as Minnie transgresses boundary after boundary – propositioning older men, pretending to be a prostitute with her best friend on a night out – I found myself wondering what the difference was between controlled exploration and self-destruction, and why a film with such a complicated, troubled relationship with the body of its protagonist has been held up as somehow innovative.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Straight Outta Compton



There’s no doubt Straight Outta Compton is relevant to our current social moment, and no question its success indicates something important.  The film is a biopic on recognizable black tastemakers that chronicles not only a significant contribution to the cultural landscape, but also highlights the injustices often suffered by a group at the hands of a corrupt system.  It’s a conversation we need to be having, and one illustrated clearly as a subplot to NWA’s story.  


There are moments of strong pathos in Straight Outta Compton, and with the audience it’s reaching, we can’t discount the possible impact of those situations.  And yes, it’s good to see a film with a mostly black cast reign at the box office.  And yes, it’s important to send a message to Hollywood about the voices audiences want to see represented.  And as a whole, Straight Outta Compton is a smartly cast, very structured example of a conventional filmmaking.  But here’s the thing: for all the fuss – positive and negative (yes, the film’s treatment of women is abysmal) – the film is ultimately just another overcooked, too long, selectively edited Hollywood biopic with a sense of vague hero worship and a focus on too much, too fast.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mistress America



Mistress America marks the second collaborative effort of director Noah Baumbach and actress Greta Gerwig, and the second Baumbach film this year.  It’s a bright, watchable comedy about insufferable people and ways we all seem to desperately seek some sense of connection. The title is taken from the short story being penned over the course of the film by _Tracy (Lola Kirke), a Nick Carraway-like observer to Brooke (Greta Gerwig) unique ownership of a 21st century American Dream.  Brooke is a type of social autodidact (a word she’s quick to tell you is one of the things she taught herself), a manic vagabond who lives like the self-aware inverse of Gerwig’s Frances Ha.  She’s shooting to make it big, open a restaurant that feels like home, but along the way live large at the center of Manhattan: flitting between concerts, parties, events, and meeting with investors and leaving admirers in her wake.  Tracy is one such admirer. She’s a first-year undergrad student, struggling to make friends and in awe of the slanted glamour she sees in her soon to be stepsister.  It’s a few short steps between seeing Brooke’s bohemian living space in the middle of Times Square and reimagining her as a self-created, self-destructive, ego-driven Gatsby; enigmatic, eccentric, desirable, and constructed entirely from lies.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Paper Towns



A boy pines for the girl next door. He's loved her for years, since a time when they had been co-conspirators. As they grew apart he held on to the world she'd evoked for him.  Now, at the end of their high school lives, he believes that she is somehow magical, the only girl of her kind. He is so in love with her that he believes that they are bound to be together, and he reads her every move as a sign.  She's prone to disappearing, to running away, and when she takes off yet again she leaves him clues.  Though he knows that this is a pattern of hers - her way of reassuring everyone that she is safe-  he interprets every moment, every word, every nuance of their last evening spent together to mean that she wants him to come and find her.

This is Paper Towns - a kind of sentimental teenage Gone Girl in which the parents are impossibly absent, the kids wander untracked, and no one bothers to hunt for a teenage runaway but the crushed-out kid she used to hang with.  It's another in a seemingly endless line of John Green properties appearing at a theater near you, and while it begs a suspension of disbelief unique to teen flicks, we can at least be thankful it is stripped of the gross sentimentality of last year's The Fault in Our Stars. Instead of tearjerking tragedy the focus is twofold: building a mystery and then using it to dismantle the myth of the manic pixie dream girl.    

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mixtape:You Were Supposed to Love Me, Weren't You?

It's been a minute, but we return with the filmcentric "fanmix" in a very long time. Hopefully there will be more to come (and I'm open to suggestions for future themed entries), and I'm in the midst of adding a bit of image cohesion to the whole of my 8tracks back catalog.  For now, though, I present you with this: a moody, restless 20 song mixtape to soundtrack the the rise of India Stoker.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ant-Man



Another few months, another Marvel Studios outing, another opportunity to talk about all the same thinkpiece topics: if it comes from a studio, can it still be called auteurism? Have we outgrown the origin story? How does this play into the larger Avengers timeline?  Do we like this actor? What can we say about the way female characters are used here?  As much as I tend to enjoy the films, I have to admit that I've grown seriously weary of writing about them. Case in point: Ant-Man has been blocking up my blog posting for at least a month now, not because I didn't like it or don't have any opinions on its success as a piece of entertainment, but because it's a movie that exists almost on its own rubric.  Writing about the comic book actioner has become kinda like grading variations of an assignment around the same prompt: there may be stellar examples or mediocre ones, but the language used becomes repetitive. 

This is my own fault, partially. I've thought about responding less with a formatted evaluation and more with an analysis or essay.  Why not reposition my vantage point? Why not actually tackle one of those questions full on instead of doing a scattershot rundown of pros and cons?  Or, why not just make an actual flat list of the things that work and the things that don't.  For example:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Irrational Man



When you grow up watching the films of Woody Allen, you develop a problem.  I mean, you probably develop any number of problems if we're being honest, but one of the biggest ones is that you still go every damn year to get that dose of wandering eloquence and bitter banter you need.  This is, of course, even though you know that the film it's housed in will likely disappoint you.  This is, too, even though you know that you would be better served pressing play on yet another repeat viewing of an old favorite.  Still, you go.  When you do, you can't really talk about it. This is because when you talk about it the conversation is always the same aimless insular ranking of the director's oeuvre. It almost doesn't matter that a Woody Allen film is a film at all. We've kinda stopped talking about them as products that might entertain on any merits beyond how they match up to the filmmaker's other works.  So, with Irrational Man the conversation is yet another repetition: is it a good or bad Woody Allen Film?  Do we like seeing Joaquin Phoenix in this construct we call the Woody Allen Film? Do we feel like Parker Posey should have been here - in this thing called the Woody Allen Film - long ago?  

Trainwreck



Trainwreck may be the most frequently discussed film of my summer this far. Everyone seems to want to work on cultivating an opinion on it, everyone wants to establish whether or not they've seen it, but no one seems to stand on solid ground as to whether or not they found it truly successful.  Most seem to like the film, but with a caveat or vague sense of something they'd like to work out before making their final decision.  I know what they mean, I have reservations, too.  Trainwreck is a film that seems to demand a second viewing even before it even reaches its grand finale.  It's the type of movie with characters who may take a little while to love and with plot points that both hit their genre marks and yet actively comment on the fact of those existing tropes.  Those used to writer/star Amy Schumer's comic sensibilities should be used to this: she's one to walk the line while all the while pointing directly to it, a tactic that works well when pointing out industry misogyny or cultural double-standards, but which is somehow trickier when the goal seems to be writing an ideal rom com while also correcting the problems of that genre.  

The way I see it, the thing about the rom com is that we already know the fallacies and fantasies they work with because, in a way, we live with them.  They're something very different than other genres, because they apply more directly to the way we conduct our relationships and the wishes that we all secretly have.   So, we may talk about wanting to see the romantic comedy where everything falls apart, the "real" version where nothing works out, but when we're given that film, that critical decision that we think we want, how often do we like it?  How do we feel when our point of identification doesn't wind up in the position we want them to?  What I mean is: Annie Hall is the exception, not the rule. 
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