Sunday, July 26, 2009

(500) Days of Summer and Harry Potter

I've gone to the movie theater three times in the past two weeks to see two movies. Yes, I am one of those creeps who went to see Harry Potter twice. Yeah, I own a Gryffindor headband. What are you going to do about it? I've tried to make the reviews as spoiler free as possible, but if you don't even want to know anything about camera angles, then I'd skip this post.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
was good, great even, but only as a part of a series. The movie threw you in right where the last one left off, so if you were new to the Harry Potter franchise you would be very lost and confused. I realize that at this point few people are Potter virgins, but the movie is more of a place holder than anything, just as the sixth book was. It's a setup for the seventh movie, not a stand alone. However I thought it was great, and it brought back some of the magic and love that I had lost for Harry Potter after the seventh book. I'd been terribly disappointed with how the book series ended, but the movie reminded me that the wizard realm had once been fun too. Sure, the movie is dark, but the director brought in enough funny and light moments to balance it out. They also played out the romance between the characters more than the book did, and obviously could not fit the entire story into a 3 hour movie, but I feel they did a good job hitting on all of the main plot points. I have some nitpicky issues (a bottle at one point was labeled Thomas Marvolo Riddle when Voldemort's name is actually Tom and not Thomas, as explained in the second book) and some plot problems (they added a new scene and dropped some important old ones) but it was an all around good movie. I also love their portrayal of Draco in this movie - he transforms from the static, one dimensional character he was in the previous movies to a dynamic, well rounded, believable antagonist.

The second movie I saw was (500) Days of Summer. I have been waiting for this movie for months, as it is the first full length, widely distributed film directed by Marc Webb, my favorite music video director. It was awesome, and I wasn't the only one who thought so. The packed movie theater that I saw it in, opening night in Cambridge, spent the entire movie laughing. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt gave the perfect portrayal of our generation's dating scene filled with two types of people - hopeless romantics searching for love and jaded cynics who feel love is beneath them. The story is told out of order, chronicling an untraditional and slightly unhappy boy meets girls love story from start to finish, but it jumps around, from day 300 to day 1 to day 268. It's smart, funny, and well put together. There are some particularly music video like aspects as well, from a short interlude about the "Summer Effect" (how the girl, Summer, turns heads in precisely mathematical formulas) to a party done is split screen, the left side showing how the boy, Tom, expects the party to go while the right side shows how it actually unfolds: the expectations versus reality that we all play in our heads whenever we envision a situation or encounter. I was slightly unhappy with the ending (I think that the last minute, while funny, is a bit of a cop out) but it was a minor, minor detail in the grand scheme of an amazing movie. I highly recommend, nay, insist that you see it.

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