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Two rentals that surprised me

February 15, 2009

zack-and-miri

I figured I would like Zack and Miri Make a Porno since I am a die hard Kevin Smith fan, but I didn’t expect it to surprise me as much as it did. This weekend I rented Smith’s latest along with Nights in Rodanthe and my usual rental night turned into a lovely evening with two films that reminded me of why I love movies in the first place.

In Zack and Miri, my expectations of crude comedy were exceeded but what I hadn’t expected was the heart. I mean, I guess I should have, what with Seth Rogen (Zack) as the lead. The man has a weird charm that I can’t deny. But I thought it might remain a buddy film and not go the way of a rom-com, but then it did, and it worked. Elizabeth Banks (Miri) plays the buddy turned romantic lead and the affable and natural connection between Banks and Rogen make the film plausible. Not to mention this is by far my favorite Jason Mewes role, Jay be damned. Yeah, I said it.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the plot of the movie as the title pretty much lays it out for you, but there are some fun scenes that lead the characters to the position they are in that are worth noting. Justin Long plays an over the top gay porn star at Zack and Miri’s high school reunion. The scene is set up for us to see while Miri may be fair superior in looks over her roomie, she is still the gawky loser from high school that makes her his perfect match. However, earlier, Miri is changing in the back room of Zach’s coffee shop and the moment is caught on video and she becomes an overnight sensation known as “Granny Panties.” The two moments spark the idea for Zack’s character that become the catalyst of the film.

However, the best parts of the movie are the lead up to the porno as the character development is at its strongest here. After the film moves into shit jokes (although I do applaud the quick edit on that image, eww), the movie becomes a bit formulaic – rise in conflict between the two characters – he runs away – friends show him what he can’t quite see – he runs back to her – she takes him in her arms, etc. Sure, it is your basic rom-com formula, but do the others have penis shots of Jason Mewes when in the middle of the big reunion scene? No, so Smith’s comedy does manage to cut some of the sappiness from the moment.

nightsinrodanthe11Don’t let the picture fool you, this is not a happy movie.

As for Nights in Rodanthe, that movie sucker-punched me with its move in a very different direction than I had thought. Clearly, I should have read Nicholas Sparks’ novel before watching the movie, but I just can’t bear to read his writing. To be fair, I have tried and it is just not my thing.

Still, I needed a girl’s night in with rentals so I thought with the tagline, “It’s Never too late for a second chance, oh this will be a nice feel-good flick I can watch and be a little depressed over valentine’s day.” Well, the good news was yes I was depressed, but not about V-Day. Instead the events that lead Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere) into a very different plan than expected were the catalyst for my tears.

Yes, I am a girl but I really am usually quite stubborn about these kinds of movies. My ex was mad for The Notebook and while I can watch it, it doesn’t appeal to my inner softie. But this one hit me, sure closer to the end as I was actually quite impressed with Alfonso Beato’s cinematography. For a romantic-drama, their were some really quality shots, particularly during the storm that veered on the edge of suspense or horror.  Beato also has this way of capturing landscape that makes you feel you are there with the camera. Think back to the shot of Queen Elizabeth standing on the hillside staring at the buck in “The Queen” and you know what I mean about his work.

This is one of those films that could easily have gone the way of Lifetime with soft lighting and cheesy music, but instead the film kept surprising me with its sort of indie-feel and harder edge. In less capable hands than director George C. Wolfe (Lackawanna Blues), maybe it would have been just another one of those movies. And while I didn’t feel the chemistry between Diane Lane and Richard Gere as I had in previous work together (Unfaithful, Cotton Club), the two do just match.

One of the moments that did pull me out of the movie and made me laugh was when the two decide to go down to the local hangout. While it captures the spirit of the Carolina’s, with crawfish and locals singing, the two Hollywood stars definitely look like misfits in the scene. But despite my desire to hate such a movie, I found myself sobbing at the end anyway, I think completely due to Diane Lane’s performance which feels right on cue for a single mother trying to be a good mom and yet reconnect to herself as a woman.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2009 6:35 pm

    I can’t wait to see “Nights”, you have convinced me
    to check it out !!!

    • February 15, 2009 6:50 pm

      Uh oh, well don’t get too excited. Definitely not going to be your kind of film..or at least, that is my theory. Let me know once you see it.

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