The Notebook (2004)

I hate the goddamn Photoshopped version where Gosling's beard is removed.

I hate the goddamn Photoshopped version where Gosling’s beard is removed.

Directed by: Nick Cassavettes (I’d have to say his best movie is either this one or She’s So Lovely, but I haven’t seen the latter film in over a decade so that would require a re-watch)

Written by: Jeremy Leven and Jan Sardi adapted Nicholas Sparks’ novel to the screen

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, James Garner, Gena Rowlands, Joan Allen, Sam Shepard, Kevin Connolly, David Thornton and James Marsden

What it’s about: a man reads from a book to attempt to revive a woman’s memory

What I liked: First of all, the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams is off-the-charts explosive.  I mean, explosive in a good way.  You truly get the sense that these characters loved each other passionately.  The story is fairly by-the-numbers, and without Gosling and McAdams starring, it would probably have been a forgettable film, no matter what director Nick Cassavettes did.  The movie looks gorgeous, and the acting throughout is decent.  The characters feel real, in particular the poor James Marsden character, who reacts in a fairly realistic manner to life-changing news.  Plus, he’s charming!

What I disliked: Well, with any romantic drama (romama? dramantic?) there is an inherent quantity of cheesiness, and that is not absent throughout the entire movie.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Certainly.  No, wait.  Some people will think it is just a “chick flick” (a designation I detest), and they will be pre-disposed to hate it, no matter how good it is.  I’d recommend it to people that like good movies.

Rating: 4 / 5

As soon as I saw this scene, I knew that someone would have made a gif out of it.

As soon as I saw this scene, I knew that someone would have made a gif out of it.

Blue Valentine (2010)

Here’s a cheerful Valentine’s Day movie for you.  A romantic drama that will cut you to the bone, and make you realise that sadly, sometimes love just isn’t enough.  At least that’s what I took away from it.  Or that no matter how good-looking he is nowadays, when Ryan Gosling begins to suffer from male pattern baldness, women will be annoyed by him instead of charmed.  So either love or older Ryan Gosling isn’t enough.

In all seriousness, this is a movie about a beautiful romance, and how when we grow up into The Real World, all that devotion, passion, it can sometimes be cast aside for … well, there’s many reasons, really.  I don’t think it was just that Dean (Gosling) wasn’t living up to his supposed potential, and Dean was completely okay with that.  All he wanted was to be a good husband to Cindy (Michelle Williams) and good father to Frankie (Faith Wladyka), that meant the world to him.  It wasn’t enough for Cindy, though, and I don’t want this to be misinterpreted as me saying Cindy was the bad guy here.

It’s a gorgeously shot movie, with an amazing score/soundtrack by Grizzly Bear, with genuine emotion running throughout.  Director and writer Derek Cianfrance wrote much of the story based upon real life experiences over the course of many years, and you can tell it’s a labour of love.  A lot of people will be bored by it, but whatever.  Gosling shows his ass in the movie, there, that’ll bring ’em in.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that my hopeless romanticism is a lot along the lines of Dean’s, and the hopeless is very much emphasized.

4.5 / 5

Drive (2011)

UNFH.  If I’d have seen this during my 2011 #movieaday self-challenge, it would probably have ranked at #2 for my Top Five of 2011 section, right behind Warrior.  The two movies have a bit in common, as Warrior starred Tom Hardy who was fucking amazing in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson and well, Refn directed this flick as well.  I have the Wiki page for Drive open in another tab (and I’ll probably end up researching Nathan Fillion’s “Drive” TV series as well, because that is how Wiki Progression works), and I’m looking forward to reading all about it.  I’m already giving the movie a 5, I mean duh, so no SPOILER ALERT about that.  But I’m trying to finish this write-up to see if I can remember what movie it most reminds me of without outside influences.

The Driver (Ryan Gosling) is an exceptionally talented uh.. driver.  He goes unnamed throughout the movie, and don’t worry about that because who cares.  The lead characters in Once were never named and that was a fucking great movie too.  He moonlights as a getaway driver, has a part-time job as a mechanic for Shannon (Bryan Cranston), and also as a stunt driver for the movies.  There isn’t a lot of exposition in this movie, things happen and they get dealt with.  Driver meets Irene (Carey Mulligan) in an elevator in their apartment building, and a series of events culminates in so much badassery that I do not want to spoil things.  Also, a love story.

I’m going to get around to purchasing this movie someday to re-watch it because it is so very good.  From the cinematography to the straight-out-of-Vice-City-soundtrack-that-is-actually-modern-music to the fact that Christina Hendricks is basically a blip in the movie, and Ron Perlman looks like a white Luis Guzmán and Albert Brooks has no eyebrows for some reason (he hasn’t answered my Tweet about that).  Also, I may be back in love with Carey Mulligan, after the hipster twaddle of Never Let Me Go last year diminished my intense passion for her.  Holy hell, my write-up is getting so lame, and for such an awesome movie, that is unacceptable.

5 / 5

The Ides of March (2011)

Ever since I was first turned on to “The West Wing”, I’ve had an interest in well-written American political movies.  Much like my adoration of baseball movies, this interest does not translate over into day-to-day life as I’m more apolitical than anything.  Or apocalyptic.  Something.  Anyways, I enjoy both George Clooney and Ryan Gosling and had intended on seeing this movie no matter what it was about, so I purposely did no research at all and went in blind.

Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) is pretty much the Barack Obama of this political thriller, a charismatic and popular and different choice for the American people.  He has two of the brightest campaign managers working to get the Democratic nomination for him, the veteran Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the idealistic Stephen Meyers (Gosling).  Through an interaction with the opposing Democratic candidate’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), Stephen ends up playing a high stakes political game to salvage his young career.

Clooney also directed the movie, as well as helping with the screenplay which itself is an adaptation of the play “Farragut North” by fellow screenplay writer Beau Willimon.  Clooney appears to direct a movie every three years, and while this isn’t his best so far (that would be Good Night, and Good Luck.) it’s also not his worst (Leatherheads which I still enjoyed).  For the most part it’s an intriguing look into the backrooms of politicians, probably making them far more interesting than they actually are.  Pretty much what Aaron Sorkin did with “The West Wing”.  It’s well acted, well shot, well written, a solid movie all around, just lacking something that I can’t place my finger on right now.

Might as well call this blog Clooneymovieaday at this point.

4 / 5

All Good Things (2010)

Some of these recent “biopics” or “based on true events” movies that have come out recently bother me with their disingenuous approach.  The first such incident occurred after I watched The Fourth Kind and then researched it only to discover LIES LIES LIES.  There have probably been others in the ensuing time period between then and now, as I just watched All Good Things which is sorta kinda based on Robert Durst, and if you haven’t heard of him, join the club or just Wiki him.  This isn’t a character assassination piece on par with Citizen Kane, but it’s a fairly decent movie.

Ryan Gosling stars as David Marks, heir to a powerful New York City real estate mogul (Frank Langella), and Gosling acts pretty much like he has in almost every touchy-feely-romantic movie he’s made since The Notebook, which is to say, a little tortured.  Except in this movie he seems to have a little Jared Leto to him, which sounds like the title of a Fall Out Boy song and I’m sorry, okay?  Kirsten Dunst co-stars as Katie Marks, the woman David meets, marries and possibly murders.  It’s hard to say, and the movie doesn’t really answer that, just presents the recalled events of David’s testimony twenty years after Katie’s disappearance.

The movie lets you make up your own mind about what really happened, while also strongly nudging you in the direction of the possible culprit.  There are some decent performances in here, and let me warn you that Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation”) is in the movie so that when you first see him without a mustache you don’t curl into a ball and weep and eagerly await his next appearance on your screen.  That’s just distracting.

3.5 / 5

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Normally in a movie such as Crazy, Stupid, Love. there is one character or set of characters that are clearly defined as the bad guys, the jerks, the assholes, what have you.  There has to be a reason for people acting the way they do to one another, and usually it’s because they are missing characteristics that one would normally attribute to a “good” person.  In CSL though, that reason is clearly stated in the title, it’s just love, man.

Basic premise of the movie is that Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have been married for a long time, when all of a sudden Emily blurts out that she wants a divorce.  It turns out that she slept with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) for whatever reason and that starts this whole movie off.  Cal goes into a little depressing spiral, until one night, ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) broaches the idea of tutoring Cal on how to become a ladykiller.  And if the movie was just that, well we’ve all seen that movie before and it’s not that interesting or funny anymore.  Thankfully, there are two more plotlines with other characters that all end up dovetailing into one of the most brilliantly written romantic comedy movies in awhile.

It’s not a “sexy” rom-com though, it’s got a lot of heart and realness to it that helps it stand above your run-of-the-mill rom-coms.  Carrell and Gosling are great, Emma Stone is as charming and amazing as I’ve always thought she was (seriously, if you haven’t seen Easy A yet, WATCH IT, it is excellent).  The point is, that none of these characters are cartoonish assholes.  They’re all real people with real emotions and even Bacon’s character, the one that you should hate most of all, well he’s a regular guy too.

Great movie, highly recommended.

4 / 5