Punch Drunk Love

February 14, 2017

Love Is Strange: Five Films about Love…or Something Like That

Valentines Day…or Valentimes Day as some people like to call it. Have you heard people say Valentimes Day? Maybe it’s time to start rethinking that public school education, oh, but don’t worry, we won’t have public schools for much longer.

Anywho, yeah, it’s that time of the year again for your VD check-up, and that one you need last week at the clinic doesn’t count. But we get it, you might not have that special someone to buy flowers, chocolates, or even that real cool chocolate-covered Fleshlight that you have on your Amazon Wish List that you might be saving for yourself one of these days (we’ve all been there). So if it;s another one of those February 14th, why don’t you plop yourself in front of your TV, exit PornHub for a couple of hours, and check out one of these great films about love…or something in between.

Secretary

Who doesn’t like James Spader! Before he played our favorite murderous AI-turned-physical-robot, Ultron, he played a lawyer with a love for S&M and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Think of it has a precursor to the “50 Sh(it)ades of Grey” series, only smarter, more heartfelt, and a better understanding of the culture.

Punch Drunk Love

A lot of people say this is Adam Sandler’s best performance, and I have to say that I agree. While I’ll give credit that “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore” were funny, mindless and dumb films and made his career and allowed him to build an empire of bad films that made him millions upon millions of dollars and a lucrative Netflix deal…now I have a stomach ache.

Anyway. forget about all that. “Punch Drunk Love” is a heartfelt off-beat romantic comedy that is a lost treasure from Paul Thomas Anderson’s filmography. A brow-beaten Sander is very subdued and emotionally unstable but he proves himself to be sympathetic and a warrior for love and respect. Plus Philip Seymour Hoffman gives and over-the-top and great performance.

Warm Bodies

Do you prefer your love a little more…dead? Well, look no further than “Warm Bodies.” Yes, this is basically “Twilight” with zombies, but there is just enough comedy, goofiness, heart to make this standout. Plus, you get in the mind of a zombie as they go about their day. It takes the self-awareness of “Zombieland” and adds a love story, that while silly, is still pretty fun. Plus, John Malkovich.

Audition

I know I’ve talked about this film a lot, and you might wonder why…it’s pretty f*cked up. Yep, it’s certainly f*cked up, but there is something about it that draws me to watching it more often than I probably should. It’s essentially a Japanese version of “Fatal Attraction” with an even more not-so-happy-ending, ex-lovers in burlap sacks, creepy ballet teachers, but at its heart, its the story of a widower looking for a women to mend his broken heart…he just happens to get involved with a woman for a predilection for leather smocks and piano wire.

Sid and Nancy

If you’re a fan of punk rock of the 1970s and all the debauchery from the era, notably when it surrounded the Sex Pistols, “Sid and Nancy,” is for you. Gary Oldman becomes Sid Vicious, the band’s bassist who was short on talent but long on violence, drug use and was essentially, as Johnny Rotten would put it later, “essentially a coat hanger on stage.”

Not only is Oldman excellent, he should have at least been nominated for an Oscar, but the story itself is sad, brutal, funny, and everything in between. If you know anything about the fate of Sid and Nancy, you know where the self-destructive behavior leads, ultimately.

January 13, 2013

Holiday Hangover: Silver Linings Playbook

CRAZY

And I mean that in a good way.  Silver Linings Playbook, besides having one of the strangest titles for a film ever, is probably the CRAZIEST love story I’ve seen since Punch Drunk Love.  From the very beginning, it snatches you up on a manic roller coaster ride of mental disorder, football, ballroom dancing and strangely enough, romance.  And it completely knocked me over.  We’ve had a pretty great year when it comes to great films and great performances.  Silver Linings Playbook has the distinction of possessing both of those traits.

The film is a Matthew Quick novel adaptation from director David O. Russell.  It centers around Bradley Cooper’s character Pat.  A man with a bi-polar disorder who is desperately trying to better himself in order to get back with his estranged wife.  More than that though, it is a film about acceptance.  Whether that be acceptance of one’s fate or acceptance of one’s illness.  Now, this is not slow burn psychological study.  The film is handled much differently.  The pacing of this film is noticeably frenetic.  The veracity really puts you in the head of someone who has bi-polar disorder.  You are immediately thrust into this world with these characters and barely have time to react to each strange fit of rage or absurd situation.  And it is completely captivating to watch.

It must suck to be Bradley Cooper.  Well, not really.  Ladies love him, his films do well, and he seems to be pretty well liked by his peers.  However, he’s just now starting to get recognized and rewarded for his acting ability.  Pretty boy douchebag roles are now being replaced by roles like this on his resume.  He portrays his disorder in such a realistic and grounded way.  A misconception for playing someone with a mental disorder is to do it over the top.  But its actually the subtleties that really sell it.  And while Cooper has his share of over the top outburst, he nails the small moments where his illness tortures him.  For as good as Cooper is, Jennifer Lawrence steals this film from him.  Its a welcome change to see an actress who can do the schlocky youth fueled films like Hunger Games and X-Men, but also have the range to do deeper, meaningful films like this.  YOU HEAR ME KRISTEN STEWART!?!  CLOSE YOUR MOUTH!  Lawrence is amazing, her chemistry with Cooper is magical, and she pretty much eats Robert De Niro’s lunch acting-wise in a climactic scene.  And not a lazy Rocky & Bullwinkle Robert De Niro.  A trying, solid performing Robert De Niro.  I’d hold up the performances by Silver Linings Playbook’s ensemble cast to every film it’ll be nominated against.  Even Django.

David O. Russell is infamous for being a bit of a hard ass to work for.  However, his abilities as a director are unquestionable.  Especially directing films like this.  Films where the main characters are severely flawed.  Realistically flawed.  But still likable characters all the same.  The way he lets his scenes just play out must be catnip for actors.

Silver Linings Playbook might be lost in the CRAZY award season mix because it isn’t as fun or escapist as its competition.  But I think it will stand the test of time because it is well made, well performed and just a feel good movie.  Slap on a DeSean Jackson jersey…put some money on the Eagles…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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