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The West Wing
Tom, the boy, still believes, even in this cynical modern world, in the notion of a transforming, cosmically destined, lightning-strikes-once kind of love. Summer, the girl, doesn’t. Not at all. But that doesn’t stop Tom from going after her, again and again, like a modern Don Quixote, with all his might and courage. Suddenly, Tom is in love not just with a lovely, witty, intelligent woman – not that he minds any of that -- but with the very idea of Summer, the very idea of a love that still has the power to shock the heart and stop the world. --© Fox Searchlight.
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What that synopsis implies is a very Steve Urkel chases Laura Winslow type of relationship. That is not what you get here. This movie is instantly one of my all time favorites after seeing it. Easily breaking into my top 10 personal films of all time. And I’ll tell you why…
The Story: Joseph Gordon Levitt, or JGL as he’ll be referred to from here on in, gave up his dreams of being an arcitect to be a greeting card writer. Zooey Deschanel moves into town as JGL’s boss’ assistant and instantly strikes the eye of our hero. The film constantly moves through a back and forth non-linear time that can leave some indie normies frustrated (aka those who are used to commercially produced studio narratives.) But that’s ok, they’ll get used to it. The film takes it’s time and goes through all the beats that real men go through these days to get the attention of the girl. They avoid eye contact when necessary – which studio pictures caught on to. But this film goes past that. Many times in real life does a beautiful girl compliment the music you’re listening to does that become your bargaining chip. So the next time you stalk….I mean, see her coming out of the corner of your eye, you start playing that music from your laptop hoping she’ll stop and compliment you again. Here’s where everything goes north for our JGL. Just like in real life, she doesn’t stop and you have to turn the music off. The whole film is basically about the modern day Romeo. A romantic, sensitive male who peruses “the one”. Now many will say, “well doesn’t she have a choice too?” And yes, she does. Zooey “likes him too”, hangs out with him, kisses him, makes love with him, holds his hand in Ikea, and tells him stories that she’s never told anyone before. So what do you expect from Mr. Sentimental? He falls in love with her. And what does she do? Well, any man who’s ever existed in those shoes knows the “f” word she drops on him. In the end, it’s happily wrapped up, which kind of bothered me but I can deal. We never really get Zooey’s point of view of the story sans her “divorced parents back story”. So it’s hard for us to really care about her. Hell, I hated her by the end of the movie. I felt as though my heart had been ripped out and stomped on. It was like every relationship I had ever gone through. And that was the point. Even though we got the happy ending, there’s still a lot of heartache for the men that see this movie.
Acting: JGL – he brings life to the everyman. As a male participant in the audience, I knew everything he was going through. Granted, a lot of that comes from the writing, but his life injection into the script makes you go “Yup, that’s exactly how it happens.” when you see it. He’s able to be likable and admirable, but never boring. He is a “real” person in this movie. Yes, he has no money troubles or any other obstacles but this movie isn’t an adaptation of the game of Life. It’s about, like I said, the modern day Romeo who gets the shaft from his Juliet.
Directing: Marc Webb does a great job. He tells a narrative in a very straightforward dramatic way. Even when JGL breaks out into a dance routine on his way to work you never feel like it’s out of place. Webb understands the emotions that are carried along with absolute love and desire and places them on screen. It’s as simple as that. Never once are you thinking “oh this is an abstract indie art film” even though it is. This is how you do it, pull it off and are not perceived as being art for art’s sake.
Cinematography: Well done. It’s smooth and crisp during most with that sepia tone that relaxes the viewer and on often occasion breaks into a split screen that can get a little jarring as it’s difficult to chose who to watch to get the full experience, but overall gets the point across.
Production Design: Indie. 60’s hair cuts and tight indie film person clothes. Pretty much what you see when you go to a town with an art college.
Editing: Solid. For only being an hour and a half, I felt like I got my money’s worth. There was never a single moment I was bored. The films jumping between the start and end of the relationship keeps the audience on their toes. Again, the split screen may have been the fault of the editor so it’s worth noting.
Score: There is no actual score, or at least from what I can remember. There is however a soundtrack. There are several older mainstream hits, but the rest is littered in indie music. If there’s one complain I have about independent films, it’s their drastic judgmental approach towards mainstream music and shoving independent music down audience’s throats. Several times during the film the characters reference indie bands and songs, mentioning how “people don’t know what they’re missing.” Please, get off that horse and let me find out that stuff for myself if I want to. If I’m chasing that kind of music because I like your movie, then I’m just buying what you’re selling me…..which is what corporations do, and I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be the anti-corporation…..got my eye on you Indie films.
In closing: this film is actually aimed more towards guys. JGL represents the everyman and women who wonder what happens to good guys to turn them into assholes need to see this film. This is what happens to the good guys. I hate to say it because it sounds completely self serving, but I’ve been there. This character is me. So guys, if you want see “romantic chick-flick” that finally represents you and not some womanized “romantic” dude that studios created….this is the film. I promise.
500 Days of Summer