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(500) Words for Summer - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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July 18th, 2009


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09:09 am - (500) Words for Summer
(500) Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, declares itself to be not a love story, but a story about love. The Pushing Daisies-esque narrator—who is honestly a bit superfluous and underused but still effective—is accurate! Using the day Tom and Summer break up as a fulcrum, the story shifts back and forth from the halcyon beginnings of the relationship to the gloomy, bitter deterioration and then continues time-jumping as Tom essays to win her back. It's like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Annie Hall. I do heart non-linear narrative, and here it helps put the prototypical Relationship into perspective, the way you remember everything all out of order, sometimes even focusing on little moments without their proper context. It's not so fractured that it's hard to follow, though; it's surprisingly chronological.

Tom believes in love; Summer does not. Will these two crazy kids work it out? We hope so! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is absolutely adorable, an awkward architect who has ended up writing greeting cards (is this your future, Ted Mosby?). Zooey Deschanel is the new girl at the office, and she is basically a toned-down, hipster version of the free-spirited character Zooey usually plays. They're both great in their roles, letting you see the real people underneath my superficial adjectives. It appears they're made for each other, but we know they break up, but it's still cute! Yeah, this is not your typical romantic comedy. Does your typical romantic comedy feature Regina Spektor and the Smiths and Belle and Sebastian on the soundtrack? No, it does not. This is a romantic comedy for cool indie kids.

As I said before, this is a story about love. It is a story being told, and that conceit allows for a fair bit of whimsy to enter the proceedings. First-time director Marc Webb, who comes from the world of music videos, always seems to find just the right moment to be cinematically clever. There are a couple stand-out sequences, one that highlights the joys of new love and one that conveys the true agony that can come when reality differs from your expectations.

Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber were somehow also responsible for The Pink Panther 2, so I hope that this movie is a true reflection of their talent. The script is peppered with great little jokes that had our audience laughing so hard we missed the following lines. It's a well constructed narrative that never flags, continually examining the ups and downs of love and, specifically, the relationship between these two people. It ends perfectly.

(500) Days of Summer is hilarious and sweet and sad and lovely. I saw a free screening weeks ago and have been wanting to rave about it since, but now that it is open in select theatres, you can actually see it. I hope it gets a wider release, because this movie ought to be the sleeper hit of the summer.
Current Mood: awakeawake
Current Music: Regina Spektor - Fidelity
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 18th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
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Patience is a virtue.
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From:cran
Date:July 18th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
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I reeeaaallly want to see this, but I'm going to have to wait a long time, because cute little indies like this never come to PEI. Maybe it'll come to the one little independent cinema on the island (I did see Brick there), but I'm not holding my breath. Glad to hear it's a good movie, anyway. :)
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From:spadada
Date:July 18th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
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First-time director Marc Webb, who comes from the world of music videos, always seems to find just the right moment to be cinematically clever.
Agreed. I wish I got the foreign movie references more directly. A guy in front of me got the joke on a deeper level than I did and I was jealous.

There are a couple stand-out sequences, one that highlights the joys of new love and one that conveys the true agony that can come when reality differs from your expectations.
Exactly! I mean, it is a good movie, maybe even a great movie overall, but there are a few scenes that are downright brilliant. The one you point out was my favorite. So imaginative and so hard-hitting.

It ends perfectly.
I agree. But I also think the story didn't "need" the last scene. I liked it and I am totally happy with it being there, but I think it is interesting, and says a lot for the strength of the story, that I would have left with just as much bounce in my step if it hadn't happened.

I also loved how perfectly they captured the "Now what?" moment of "The Graduate" when they cut from the film to the couple watching it. Genius.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 18th, 2009 08:08 pm (UTC)
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I wish I got the foreign movie references more directly. A guy in front of me got the joke on a deeper level than I did and I was jealous.
Aw. Hee. Well, there was the obvious Seventh Seal scene, but I don't remember whether I caught any others. (I haven't seen The Seventh Seal, but that scene has been parodied so many times it's instantly recognizable.) IMDb says the last scene was from Persona, another Bergman movie, so I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing was an Ingmar Bergman homage.

Exactly! I mean, it is a good movie, maybe even a great movie overall, but there are a few scenes that are downright brilliant.
I know! It's almost like "Wow, why has no one done this before? Someone's done this before, right? Because it rocks." I think it's a great movie overall, despite a few minor flaws (like the supporting characters that are basically just quirky archetypes). I really loved it.

The one you point out was my favorite. So imaginative and so hard-hitting.
Absolutely. I have been there so many times.

I agree. But I also think the story didn't "need" the last scene. I liked it and I am totally happy with it being there, but I think it is interesting, and says a lot for the strength of the story, that I would have left with just as much bounce in my step if it hadn't happened.
Yeah, I get what you're saying. You could sort of assume that last scene would happen eventually, but I liked being there for that moment since we'd been with Tom for 500 others. Give or take.
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From:sisterjune
Date:July 18th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
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I really want to see this. I hope it comes down to my state soon, I am quite fond of gorden levitt and I like the idea of a girl who doesnt believe in love since it's so typical to have girls who dream all day about their "true love" so this is refreshing. I hope it doesnt end sadly though, that would take the fun out of it a bit. :( but so long as it's well done I'll enjoy it I think.
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From:punzerel
Date:July 19th, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
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Oh man, Shirley and I have been waiting forever to see this movie. I'm so glad it's good.
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From:catatonia00
Date:July 20th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
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It's rather unfortunate that the words 'indie' or 'hipster' have such derogatory connotations now and that people have attached a sort of 'try hard' image to this movie. But I have not been deterred. AT ALL. Because this movie seems like the perfect vehicle to showcase Zooey Deschanel in the way that she deserves. Not to mention Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I hope they show it here REAL SOON. But even if they don't, I have my alternative means. *rubs hands*

Edited at 2009-07-20 02:52 am (UTC)
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From:marble_blue
Date:July 20th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
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I have a free pass for Cynda and I go see this on the 29th. We're ser excited!

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