Thursday, August 13, 2009

(500) Days of Summer: Damn you, Global Warmening!

I was running hot-and-cold on the idea of seeing the (500) Days of Summer. The previews reek of This Is An Independent Film. And sometimes I get a little twitchy when I hear the acoustic guitar and screechy voice on trailer after trailer after trailer.

And it's not a love story, it's a story about love. That's the actual tagline. I read something like that and I think: Aw, hell, someone's gonna die.

'cause in the world of indie theater, you can't hardly have a happy ending and keep your bona fides. Which tends to make indie love stories as predictable as their big budget parallels, but a lot more depressing. A lukewarm tweet and IMDB listing it as the 116th greatest movie of all time, made me suspicious.

But then I got a positive review from a relative and then Ruth Anne Adams tweeted a positive review--and, well, we'd seen everything else. So, off we went.

(500) Days of Summer concerns Tom and Summer, who meet at a greeting card company in Los Angeles. He falls for her immediately, though he's kind of a tortured soul and takes weeks to—well, actually, he never asks her out. He obsesses over her for weeks and then a friend tells her he likes her after a night of drunken karaoke.

This is after we learn that Summer doesn't believe in destiny, fate, soul mates—or love, even.

The movie uses a device to jump around between the various days in the 500, and this works very well, most of the time, showing us some wonderful counterpoints in the tumultuous relationship. It's not a spoiler to say that the "boy loses girl" part is about 280 days in, and the question the movie is largely concerned with is: Can Tom get Summer back? How did he loser her? And should Tom get Summer back?

Since we only see Summer through Tom's eyes, we actually get a very incomplete view of her. She seems a bit damaged, a bit closed off, maybe even a bit cold, but we're not given a lot to base out views on. Ultimately, then, this is a movie about Tom, which is definitely different for a love story.

The ending is also different.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the star, and at not quite 30, I think it must be pretty cool to be a 20-year-veteran. The object of his obsessive affection is Zooey Deschanel who is particularly plausible as the sort of girl you could obsess over, even if you never really understood her.

Good acting, from the leads and the supporting characters, who generally contribute to the story. The only supporting role that kind of clunked for me was that of Tom's younger sister. The actress (Chloe Moretz) wasn't at fault; I just thought the 12-year-old with all the relationship advice was kind of a hacky device.

The music wasn't irritating either, and not too much like "Wow, we're setting our soundtrack to a movie." I thought "Bookends" was an odd choice but otherwise I thought it fit nicely.

Besides the usual pitfalls of movie-making, indie films have special pitfalls to avoid, and when they're successful artistically, they often have the special pitfall of being ridiculously overhyped (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite).

116th best movie ever? Well,that's a bit much. It's a very good movie. Different without being militantly quirky. Bittersweet without being schmaltzy. The Boy approved.

And this was the third film in a row we saw set in Los Angeles. (This showed a side of L.A. you don't usually see, either, which was nice.)

So, set your sights accordingly, and you'll have a good time.


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I was thinking that they could've cast the Tom role as a female and the Summer role as a male and we'd have an entirely conventional big budget romance. But I loved how Joseph Gordon-Leavitt acted in his appearance as well. He looked like about 4 different guys in the film. And I'm a sucker for the dance scene in the park. Reminded me of "Enchanted" with a smaller budget. And he *did* look a little Han Solo-y there for a moment, no?

  2. Also: We see only a few movies a year. The only reviews I consistently rely on now are Medved's and yours. So I saw [500] Days with a little trepidation. Medved loved it, but what about Blake??? I was flyin' without a net there.

  3. Does watching a series of chick flick serve to shrink your testicles much like steriods?

  4. Any time that Zooey twat is in something it is always too heavy on the whimsy.

    She is verging on Robin Willimans territory in my book.

    That Oz thing my wife made me watch made me want to puke.

  5. She should broaden her horizions to become a more well rounded actress.

    Maybe she could kill some aliens in her underwear.

    Well I mean while dressed in her underwear. I don't think she should let aliens in her underwear.

    Unless she was trying to smuggle Selma Hayak into the country or something.


  6. I finally got a chance to see Appaloosa last night. What a mess. They butchered it. What a tragedy.
    Imagine that movie with Lee Mavin as Vigil Cole and Warren Oates as Hitch. That would have been something.

  7. Or better yet, Burt Lancaster as Cole and Kirk Douglas as Hitch.
    With John Ireland as the bad guy.
    Or maybe Powers Booth. That would have been cool.

  8. RAA--

    True, re the switch, though they would've had to change the ending, I think.

    I thought the same thing about the dance number. "Enchanted" is very popular with The Flower.

    Sorry about the delay in reviewing: We're in a rather unfashionable part of the city, so we don't get the art movies first.

  9. Troop,

    So, do you know about any, you know, non-dead actors?

  10. Of course.

    Ernie Borgnine.

    He's my hero.

    The problem with the rest of those guys is that they didn't masterbate enough.

  11. Plus I can't see how you can claim that either Ed Harris or Viggo is alive?

    I mean seriously.


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