Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Express Reviews: Ruby Sparks, Safety Not Guaranteed, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

For the first 3 quarters of every year I am lucky that I live in Malaysia. Movies are released relatively early here plus our time zone and the fact that opening day is on Thursday means that I get to see films before most of the world. But then comes October, a.k.a awards season and I start to get left behind. For instance my most anticipated film left for the year, Django Unchained [2012], will only be released sometime in mid January to mid March. WTF? The DVD might already be out by March! In the geek world that I live in that's like having the iPhone 4 you ordered arrive a month before the release of iPhone 5. Worthless! Okay, semi-worthless.

With Skyfall [2012] only opening next week, there was nothing truly interesting to me these couple of weeks (with the exception of the mind-blowingly awesome trailer for Iron Man 3 [2013] that is), I've decided to do Express Reviews of these wonderful indie movies instead.

# Ruby Sparks [2012]

Directed By: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Written By: Zoe Kazan
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina, Annette Benning, Antonio Banderas
The Story: Calvin Weir-Fields (played by Paul Dano) is a novelist struggling with writer's block. He begins to write about his dream girl and gives the name Ruby Sparks to that character. Suddenly, Ruby (played by Zoe Kazan) appears in his life for real.
The Verdict: There are mainstream rom-coms and there are indie rom-coms. While the former has a reputation of being predictable chick-flicks, the latter are usually quite entertaining. Belonging to the second category, Ruby Sparks [2012] shows us how ridiculous the concept of the manic-pixie-dream-girl or perfect partner actual is. There's also the question of the danger that ultimate power can provide. As expected this is quirky, smart, funny, and one of the more entertaining features of the year!
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

# Safety Not Guaranteed [2012]

Directed By: Colin Trevorrow
Written By: Derek Connolly
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere
The Story: An ad in the newspaper put-up by a mysterious man named Kenneth (played by Mark Duplass) reads: "WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll be paid when we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED". Magazine writer, Jeff (played by Jake Johnson) brings along two interns, Darius (played by Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (played by Karan Soni) to investigate.
The Verdict: If there was the same ad in real life I would be interested to know the story behind it, so I found the premise of the film very appealing. Although the final part/reveal of the story doesn't really match my expectations, overall it does have enough charm to it plus a compellingly complex character in Kenneth. The very final scene is a real beauty!
Rating: 7 out of 10

# Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World [2012]

Directed By: Lorene Scafaria
Written By: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Rob Corddry, Connie Britton
The Story: As a gigantic asteroid heading for earth cannot be stopped, the world will come to an end in three weeks. Dodge (played by Steve Carell) is left by his wife on the night of the announcement. Depressed, he decides to spend the remaining days searching for his long lost highschool sweetheart. He is accompanied on the journey by his neighbor whom he has never talked to before, Penny (played by Keira Knigtley).
The Verdict: Steve Carell and Keira Knightley seems like an odd couple together, but although not having the best of chemistry, they do complement each others roles nicely. Before this I used to be indifferent with Steve Carell, but after seeing his performance here, I'd say he is very underrated. Despite the fact I think total mayhem would explode in real life if there was an impending apocalypse, I found this film to be entertaining and emotionally engaging. The music featured was very good too. This film's Rotten Tomatoes summary says it has a disappointing final act, which I completely disagree with. I actually think the ending was mesmerizingly beautiful and perfectly made.
Rating: 8 out 10


  1. I completely agree about Seeking a Friend's ending - it was so beautiful, I think only TDKR had better ending this year. I think Carrel is underrated too - he was fantastic here.

    1. Totally loved that ending! I'd probably want it that way if I was in the same situation as them too. Steve Carell really did deliver a very strong performance in this.

  2. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World [2012] <-- yg nih nampak menarik..lepas Halloween month nak usha..Si Carrel ni mmg cool bagi aku...ada satu cerita mellow comedy dia aku layan..tapi lupa lak tajuknyer sekarnag..dang..tapi yeah..akan letak dlm should see aku

    1. Cite Steve Carell tuh.. Dan In Real Life ke? aku agak jer, lom tgk tp dlm viewing list aku...
      Aku nyer Halloween month dah abis dah :)

  3. I love Ruby Sparks, just saw it today. I love Dano and Kazan's chemistry, just found out that they have been dating for 5 years! No wonder the chemistry's great. And I completely agree with you on Seeking's ending, it's the best from the whole movie.

    1. Yeah, the chemistry really shines. I've read Kazan wrote this with Dano in mind for the character too.

  4. Hey, glad you liked Ruby Sparks! Yep, indie rom-coms often fare better than the mainstream ones and this one actually has some darker qualities that I don't normally associate with that genre. I quite like the story and real-life couple Paul Dano + Zoe Kazan are both great in it.

    1. Yeah, that's the good thing about indies. There's little interference from studio heads and they can go the darker route. There's no way a Katherine Heigl rom-com would do that.

  5. Really excited about seeing Seeking a friend, might watch it tomorrow.
    Great review.

    1. Thanks. I really enjoyed it and think Carell was very good in this too.


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