Film Review – Drinking Buddies

IMDB Score – 6.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 82%

Directed By – Joe Swanberg
Starring – Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston

Luke and Kate are co-workers at a Chicago brewery, where they spend their days drinking and flirting. They’re perfect for each other, except that they’re both in relationships.

First let me start off saying that I don’t understand this poster. It’s the only poster I’ve seen for this movie and Jake Johnson doesn’t have a beard, which he does for the entire movie. Odd. I guess that really doesn’t matter.

So I’ve been actively trying to see more films that delve into the “romance” genre. I’m still not going to watching any Nicholas Sparks adaptions but a balanced film resume is important because people won’t take you seriously otherwise. Some of my favorite films dive into this category (Lost in Translation, Away We Go, Slumdog Millionaire) and while Drinking Buddies isn’t going to reach that kind of pantheon, I will say I quite enjoyed it.

You’re not going to a classic story of love in this and I think that’s why I liked it so much. It felt more real than most films and there’s a very good reason for that. The film is entirely improvised. Swanberg did a very interesting thing and just let the film play out in however direction it went. The film had a basics story structure but the acting was completely improvised by the cast as there was no script. Besides Wilde, whom I’ve never really seen act besides seeing her in House and a horrible Ryan Reynolds movie I’m still binge drinking to forget, I’m a fan of the major players. Jake Johnson needs to be in more things. He and Wilde were excellent together and really seemed to make the other shine. I honestly didn’t think Olivia Wilde was going to be a good actress but she was fantastic. Her role was a little bit like Greta Gerwig’s character in Frances Ha minus the incredible amount of quirk. Livingston and Kendrick, while not in the film as much as the other two, were both very good and played their characters well considering none of them had a script to work with. What I’m trying to say is that the acting was really good on all accounts here.

Swanberg has some serious talent. I almost decided to skip this because Swanberg was a director on the awful V/H/S but if he sticks with his passion projects, which this seemed to me to be, then I think he has a bright future ahead of him. Some may think that this film is a hipsters dream. The characters work at a brewery. Some have beards and ride bikes to and from their studio apartments and the bar they hang out at has a couch in it but I just found it to be a very well made film that was highlighted by fantastic improvised performances.

4/5



Advertisements

Film Review – Trance (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.9
Rotten Tomato Score – 68%

Directed By – Danny Boyle
Starring – James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, and Danny Sapini

An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals, partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

You know I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film with Vincent Cassel where he didn’t play a slimy criminal. I’m sure there are some that exist but he is probably one of the most typecast actors working today. I guess it helps that he does it so well but come on. I want to see him in like a nice comedy with Rob Schneider. Wouldn’t that be nice? Okay, I’ve gone to far. I’m sorry. He plays a criminal in Trance and along with his cohorts, bullies poor James McAvoy into trying to remember where he hid a painting he helped steal after a bout of amnesia. You with me? I’m not even with me. The film ended up being chore to get through as I repeatedly caught myself hitting the pause button in order to get a snack or play with my dog. Luckily for me, Danny Boyle directed the film which at least left me with some serious film eye candy.

What I liked…

As I just said, Danny Boyle is a stylish mo-fo. The film was pretty dazzling all the way through. Deep reds. Dark blues and pastels. It’s a colorful film. Danny has always been this way though. He masterfully captured India in Slumdog Millionaire and delicately captured space in Sunshine. I mean, this is an Oscar winning director here. I’m always impressed with his work. I also really liked the acting from James McAvoy. He gave a gritty performance reminiscent of The Last King of Scotland. I like it better when he keeps his natural Scottish accent. It’s more, I don’t know, gritty. I like that word. Unfortunately these are the only two things that I particularly really liked. Cassel’s performance was average(Although there is an awesome scene that involves his face in this one) and the script had interesting moments. However…

What I didn’t like…

The script was thinner than a piece of thin cheese…or something equally thin…YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. This is a complicated film with twists and turns and backstabbing and revealed truths and it all seemed to be held together with scotch tape. I mean, we were presented with a finished product at the end but a product that was barely standing up because it’s structure was so weak when being made. Information and plot twists are shoved in our face as if the film is saying “SEE? THIS IS WHAT REALLY HAPPENED! FOOLED YOU!” Like I said in the intro, I would pause to go do something else for a few minutes while I tried to grasp what the hell just happened. I’m also not a fan of blatant lines of dialogue that make absolutely no sense only to be explained later on in the film. It’s a cheap way to create plot twists and really comes off as tacky. Subtlety is a very useful tool in film for when you want to make somebody go “OH, THAT’S WHAT THAT MEANT!” Trance kind of forced you to think that by cheap writing tricks. Not impressed. Also, Rosario Dawson is horrible in this. Horrible. I won’t go as far as saying she’s a horrible actress, but the notion is definitely being explored by myself. She was a distraction in many ways in this film, but when the main reason is horrible acting, that isn’t a good sign.

So, what have we learned? Trance is a film that tries WAY to hard to be a plot serpent. It twists and it turns so much that the value of what actually is happening is lost. It is however a pretty gorgeous film made by a talented man in Danny Boyle.

2.5/5