Top 10 Offbeat Romances

Picture this: Steve Carell and Keira Knightley in a car together. Falling in love. Scoff you might, except that’s what we get in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a madcap dramatic comedy that locks those two odd birds in a cage together to see what happens. It’s something cinema loves to do, as this lot are here to prove…

1. Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, 2007)
Before he buffed up as a cruiser of the mean streets in Drive, Ryan Gosling got up close and personal with a life-sized doll in this kooky drama. Arriving in a big coffin-shaped box, anatomically correct sex doll Bianca is Lars’s first, um, ‘real’ girlfriend. Hey, it’s a lifestyle choice and who are we to judge?

2. Harold & Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
What’s a teenager to do? Young Harold (Bud Cort) is obsessed with death, but he soon gets very interested in life when he comes across sprightly OAP Maude (Ruth Gordon). Though the age difference is cavernous, these two strike up one of cinema’s most interesting (and unusual) romances. Genuinely moving.

Read the full article at Grolsch Film Works

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Just what is Crazy, Stupid, Love? A romantic comedy? A family drama? Or a (shudder) well-dressed bromance? Well, like its unorthodox title, Crazy, Stupid, Love is an eccentric mish-mash of all those things, and all the better for being almost completely indefinable.

Steve Carell plays Cal Weaver, whose wife (Julianne Moore) has just demanded a divorce after sleeping with workmate David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon). Drowning his sorrows in a bar, Cal meets smooth operator Jacob (Ryan Gosling), who decides to help the middle-aged divorcee get his life back together.

Criss-crossing that storyline with that of Hannah (Emma Stone), who’s settling for a guy out of convenience, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a busy, polished comedy that manages to keep the laugh-out-loud zingers firing mostly into the closing credits.

Where it hiccups is in its final act. Whereas the makeover montage, Cal’s complex relationship with his wife, and Jacob’s burgeoning feelings for Hannah all feel sharp where other films might play them soft, Crazy, Stupid, Love lets itself down in the last 20 minutes when it struggles to wrap things up inside of two hours.

Not that the resultant film as a whole is by any means a disaster. The way Tangled writer Dan Fogelman builds up a complex ‘love network’ (rather than a love triangle) is both smart and full of truthful observations, while that sexy cast never looks anything less than a million bucks. Gosling and Stone in particular are blinding with their faultless comic timing and sizzling chemistry.

In the same class as other romantic comedy dramas The Kids Are All Right and As Good As It Gets, Crazy, Stupid, Love only slightly outstays its welcome in its final minutes. Before that, it’s a stylish, pin-sharp chuckler with bags of heart. 3/5

50 Original Properties Slated For 2012

Only God Forgives

The Film: Drive was our favourite film of 2011, and that was mostly thanks to two very important people – the film’s director Nicolas Winding Refn, and its star Ryan Gosling. Which means we’re positively chewing our first in anticipation of the pair’s next effort, Only God Forgives.

Sticking with the gritty action theme, Gosling plays a gangster who settles his differences with a Bangkok police officer (Yayaying) by getting in the ring and unleashing fists of fury. Meanwhile, Kristin Scott Thomas is apparently terrifying as a “merciless mafia godmother”. This has epic written all over it.

If It Was Based On Something: It’d be a cool Japanese flick.

TF Review Of The Half-Year 2011

Best Movies

The King’s Speech
The Film:
Oscar-clutching history lesson starring Colin Firth as stuttering monarch King George VI.
TF Says: “The dialogue’s lightness of touch pervades the whole film, turning what could easily have been a stuffy slog of a period piece into well-oiled entertainment. Neither does it feel like a TV movie, thanks in no small part to high-class production values, from Danny Cohen’s lush cinematography to the suitably precise sound design.”

Black Swan
The Film:
Demented ballet horror movie following Natalie Portman’s increasingly hysterical dancer.
TF Says: “Set in a cloistered world full of pitter-patter feet and stomping egos, Darren Aronofsky’s fifth feature starts off hysterical and raises the barre from there, fusing genres (psychodrama, horror, backstage musical) and masterpieces (The Red Shoes, All About Eve, Suspiria, pretty much all of Polanski’s early work) with spirited, nay, reckless aplomb.”

Blue Valentine
The Film:
Emotionally-draining drama about the dissolution of Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling’s on-screen marriage.
TF Says: “Gosling may get to be the devoted romantic while Williams can appear distant and cold. But Blue Valentine doesn’t play the blame game: love and its loss are never rational. You might feel like averting your gaze at times, but don’t – performances this penetrating are a sight to see.”

Animal Kingdom
The Film:
Crafty and cool Australian crime thriller.
TF Says: “With his anthropological eye recalling early Scorsese, Michôd synchs the simmer of dread to character and setting, a suburban jungle of parched interiors and colourdrained exteriors where the strong prey in packs on the weak.”

True Grit
The Film:
Coen Brothers remake introducing newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as a young girl searching for the man who killed her father.
TF Says: “In the plum role of Rooster Cogburn, Jeff Bridges can’t totally resist the temptation to ham it up a bit (though a lot less than Wayne did). But given such a richly larger-than-life character, who could blame him? Bridges lends the Marshal a deep, throaty, mellowed-in-whiskey voice that gives full weight to his hard-bitten pronouncements.”

Blue Valentine (2010)

Sex sells, especially in the movie world – but not if nobody actually gets to see your movie. Saucy clinches shared by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine stirred up a scandal in America this year, where the MPAA decided that the film’s raunch factor warranted an NC-17 certificate – basically, a film version of the kiss of death.

Sit down with Valentine, though, and there’s little apparent reason for the controversy. A grown-up account of two people falling in – and then devastatingly out of – love, it’s a bleaker version of last year’s eloquent (500) Days Of Summer. “It’s like when you hear a song and you just have to dance,” explains young Dean (Gosling) of his feelings for glacial beauty Cindy (Williams). Luckily, she feels the same. But fast forward five years and she’s getting frumpy, he’s got a thinning crop, and there’s a five year old stampeding around the house. The strain’s showing; when will things snap?

Played out via elegantly crafted flashbacks, director Derek Cianfrance’s sophomore feature is a dreamy, painfully honest examination of a stagnating relationship. Torturously teasing apart the threads in Dean and Cindy’s marriage, Cianfrance’s documentary experience pays off in hand-held, tightly-shot vignettes that will feel horribly familiar to anybody who’s dallied in a duff liaison. And yes, there is sex, but it won’t upset anybody but grandma. Even she probably won’t find it particularly riveting.

Because while the sex is what’s made the news, it’s Gosling and Williams’ fearless dramatic turns that mesmerize. It’s their efforts that ensure Valentine becomes a beautifully poignant slice of filmmaking, albeit a spectacularly depressing one. And what of the US rating quarrel? It’s all been ironed out after a painfully protracted appeal, the MPAA awarding the film a far more reasonable R. Love hurts, and you better believe it. 4/5

Via Out In The City