Friday, December 2, 2011

Worth Mentioning - I've Decided to Leave Here Forever

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Cody ponders life, death, comedy, and country music, while Jay announces his movie's new title and explores the capabilities of a new camera.

50/50 (2011)

Adam is twenty-seven years old. He jogs, he doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't have a driver's license because driving is too dangerous. And in one of life's cruel, ironic twists, Adam has a malignant tumor growing along his spine, a cancer with a survival rate of 50%.

50/50 is known as "the cancer comedy", which oversimplifies it and makes it a tougher sell, because it brings up the question, how can cancer be funny? It's not. The cancer is not a joke. It's a terrible, nightmare disease that unfortunately almost all of us are affected by in some way over the course of our lives. Screenwriter Will Reiser wrote the script based on his own experience battling the disease, and the dramatic scenes can tear you apart. But it is a funny movie, as even in the darkest periods of life you can still find humor and hope.

The laughs in 50/50 come through Adam's interactions with the people around him, particularly his party-minded best friend Kyle.

Adam is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, adding another pitch-perfect performance to the several he's given in recent years to prove himself to be one of the best young actors working today. He's surrounded by a great supporting cast, including Anna Kendrick as his psychiatrist-in-training, Anjelica Huston as his mother, Bryce Dallas Howard as his unreliable girlfriend, the awesome Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer as fellow chemotherapy patients who become his medical marijuana buddies, and Seth Rogen as Kyle. Rogen also played the role of best friend in real life to Will Reiser during his cancer treatment.

50/50 hit close to home, because I accompanied grandparents to their cancer treatments when I was a child. Adam is the same age that I am currently, so it made me think about my own life and my own fears. It made me get choked up. And it made me laugh.

With this, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (which has been undeservedly locked up in distribution jail), and The Wackness (which is in fact the dopeness), director Jonathan Levine is three for three.


Robert Duvall stars as country singer Mac Sledge, an alcoholic who has hit bottom at the beginning of the film. After a two day bender in a remote country motel, Mac comes to his senses and realizes he has no way to pay for his lodging. He asks motel owner Rosa Lee if he can stick around and work off his debt, and ends up sticking around for months.

The story follows Mac as he tries to get his life back together in several ways. He falls in love with Rosa Lee, becomes a stepfather to her young son, tries to connect with his eighteen-year-old daughter, who his still-successful country singer ex-wife refuses to let him see, and starts performing with a local band. He finds religion. He deals with tragedy.

The film is shot in beautiful country locations, and as I said in my Hard Country mention earlier this year, I tend to enjoy movies that feature country life and early '80s and older country music.

Duvall won the only Oscar of his career (so far) for his performance here, and writer Horton Foote - best known as a playwright - won Best Screenplay.

Jay's mentions:

I have personal mentions this week and I'll start with the announcement of a name change. My new feature film, previously titled Pumpkin, will now be known as The Nobodies. I announced that bit of news on my blog, along with some on set pictures/publicity stills. So head over there and check those out!

My second mention this week focuses on some YouTube short films with a common theme-- they were all shot on the Canon Rebel T2i. I recently acquired this camera after deciding to take the leap and start shooting video on a DSLR. The full HD quality with standard DSLR manual settings added in with the long list of lens choices finally became too much to resist, and the T2i was the best camera in my price range. Here are the links to a couple short films that highlight some very skilled craftsmen putting the Canon T2i to work!

STUCK IN THE MINI WITH YOU (2011) - Short Film
Directed by Peter Haynes
Starring Candice DeVillers, Anzel Greyling, Hweiling Ow, and Keziah Warner

SECOND CHANCE COMICS (2010) - Short Film
Directed by Jeremiah Mayhew
Starring Sheno Khal, Camille Elizabeth, Brad Thomas, Cory Manuel Cruze, and Florance Kirilova

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