About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook is the first movie I've seen in rather a while which I would like to see again. It is also the first time I have started to write a review during the post screening Q&A.

I'm not entirely sure why.

This is a funny movie, but I have seen funnier.

It is a romantic movie, but I have seen more romantic.

It is a dancing movie, and it isn't Dirty Dancing.

It is a Philadelphia sports movie, but it isn't Rocky.

And yet there is something about the interplay of these elements that fascinates me.

And certainly, there is something about the amazing cast that deserves a second viewing.

Bradley Cooper (the Hangover movies, and many other and sometimes better) is being sprung from the loony bin by his mom, on various conditions for what he has to do after release.  He did something he shouldn't have after seeing his wife doing something she shouldn't have. Hehas to use every ounce of his innate likability to keep you with him while he keeps doing things he shouldn't be.  He has to show something in his face with every close up that keeps his likability while his friends or his parents or anyone in a few feet of him might suffer the consequences of his not entirely restrained manic aspects.  He never falters.

Jennifer Lawrence, Hunger Games, is Cooper's soulmate.  Every bit as damaged as he is, but where he acts out she holds in.  The interplay between the two has to be pitch perfect, a guy who can't filter what he says matching emotions with someone who's like that clogged bit of hand lotion where nothing will come out until suddenly it does and it goes squirting all over the place.

Support comes from the likes of Robert DeNiro, who is excellent.  And Jacki Weaver, who does this brilliant 180 from her matriarchal role in the excellent Animal Kingdom from a couple years back.  Chris Tucker, Jennifer Stiles, there aren't many false notes, even a performance that seems a bit off at first like Stiles' gains something in retrospect during the film itself.  Is the performance off, or is it actually that the character is off, intentionally so.

The comedy of the film builds like an improv show.  Flashes amidst flatness in the early going, but as bits and pieces build on one another there is a living room scene that can hold its own with some of the best family gatherings in the classic TV show Soap.  It's an approach to comedy that I don't see in film all that often, I'm not sure I would want to, but it works here.

I am purposefully avoiding saying too much about the plot because I think a lot of this is better revealed as the filmmaker intends.  And you should see that for yourself.

As the film moved along, I couldn't quite see why Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal would call this the best film of the year, but as it continued to puts its spell on me I started to gain an appreciation.

The orchestrator of all of this is David O. Russell, who has had an interesting, varied and mostly quality career for twenty years.  I wasn't as big a fan of his last film, The Fighter, as some other people were, while Silver Linings Playbook has gotten good reviews overall I'm probably a bit more of a fan of this than some, David Denby for one is quite hateful toward in The New Yorker.  

One of Russell's earliest movies is Flirting With Disaster, a comedy which I recall liking quite a bit but haven't gone back to.  My enjoyment of Silver Linings Playbook not only makes me want to take another look at the Silver, it makes me want to refresh myself on the earlier Disaster as well.

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