The perfect woman of your imagination – Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

Ruby Sparks – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Ruby Sparks (2012)

Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan
Stars: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and Annette Bening

What would you put on paper if you could write yourself the perfect romantic partner? What if the person you created came to life? That is the basic premise for Ruby Sparks but the film is so much more than just the exploration of love and relationships.

Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is an acclaimed author, having his first success as a 19 year-old he hasn’t really produced another “literary work of genius” in the last 10 years. He doesn’t have many friends, apart from his brother, and since his last relationship he has been in therapy to deal with all his issues, especially to do with his inability to put pen to paper again. He is your adorkable reclusive author struggling to create his next work of art, and then he dreams of Ruby (Zoe Kazan). She stands backlit by the sun, talking to him and being the perfect imagining of the girl of his dreams. Calvin finds his muse and begins to write the story of Ruby and their relationship. But when strange bits of women’s clothing keep turning up and then Ruby appears in his kitchen one morning, fully formed, a person, a real person, just like in his book, just like in his dream, Calvin freaks out. And who can blame him, he has just seen the living, breathing, talking girl of his dreams. And so begins the bizarre and wonderful ride of Ruby and Calvin. There is only one problem: Calvin. In his creation of Ruby, she is the perfect girl for him, but is Calvin the perfect man for Ruby? And if he isn’t then how can he hold onto her, can he keep writing and change Ruby so she will desire and want to stay even though Calvin is just an asshole sometimes?

The film is beautifully crafted from every aspect of this idea and Zoe Kazan is a “genius” for being able to create such a well thought through and produced film. I cannot find flaws in this masterful creation of a film. The more I reflect on it the more I come to love it. Calvin is the right amount of romantic, recluse, and asshole. Ruby is a character of imagination and reality combined and Kazan brings to life the dream with a sweetness and depth that captivates. There are some key moments (which I will try not to spoil here) that brought me to a convulsion of wanting to laugh and cry at the same time, the shock, horror and pain of the way we treat each other as humans when we love so deeply is conveyed with such honest power that I can not even come to grips with how Kazan and Dano were able to act so fiercely and faithfully to their characters. The pain of love and loss is one of the reasons why this film works. It may be based on a silly, unrealistic hypothesis but it provides us as viewers with the perfect amount of imagining to process on what relationships can really be like. The complexity of love and the way it can transform us and engulf us is confusing. Love is a mystery of humanity that may never be fully understood but that we will always seek to find answers to. Kazan provides us with a way of exploring the aspects of love that cause us pain: miscommunication, unmet expectations, selfishness, pride, and stubbornness. But her real genius is helping us to see the solution to our pain. The way this film is resolved is satisfying and it feels resolved with that little added hope of a brighter future for our troubled protagonist.

Thank you Zoe Kazan for writing a beautiful, unconventional love story that will continuously remind me that relationships are always about two people, not just one, and that loving is about giving as much as it is about receiving.

Go and see this film, you will not regret it for a single moment.

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Drama, Drugs & Devotion – London

London - Official Poster - from IMDB.com

London – Official Poster – from IMDB.com

Drama, Drugs & Devotion – London (2005)

Director: Hunter Richards
Writer: Hunter Richards
Stars: Jessica Biel, Chris Evans and Jason Statham

I tend to go through phases of watching a particular actor’s films because I become obsessed with them and this week with the Avengers coming out on DVD/Blu-Ray, I have chosen Chris Evans as my obsession. I really hadn’t watched much of Chris Evans before Captain America but going back and watching bits and pieces of his career has been interesting. He’s done some not so great films but he’s also done some surprisingly good films. London is one of the good ones in my mind.

It’s a drama centred around Syd (Chris Evans) who is a bit of a druggie – cocaine mostly – and who is trying to win back the love of his life, London (Jessica Biel), who is about to move away and start her life with her new guy. He meets Bateman (Jason Statham) the day of her going away party, which he wasn’t invited to, and takes him along. The film then consists of flash backs of London & Syd’s relationship and Syd and Bateman in the bathroom of her best friend, Rebecca’s (Isla Fisher) parents house and their discussion of life, relationships, religion, and where things went wrong. It is a gripping film as you are drawn into these men’s lives with little prior knowledge about them and as their friendship as strangers grows you see how it is they came to be at this point in their lives. Evans shows a different side to his acting as he portrays the tormented soul of this grown man and standing next to Statham doing the same is something I didn’t think I’d ever see, and they are both incredibly brilliant. It has actually made me think of them as actors rather than action movie stars. They show depth to their characters and are able to capture a great deal of emotion and convince you that these men are so much more than you just see on screen. They are brilliantly directed by Hunter Richards, also the writer, and the film delivers a unique look into this world. Biel and Fisher are also brilliant in this film and ground the narrative.

I really liked this film and I really loved Evans and Statham in these different roles. They are brilliant action stars but it is great to know they can really, truly act. I really recommend seeing this film, it’s edgy and different and is able to deal with big questions of life and love in a bathroom with Van Gogh and Cocaine. Go watch it.

Metaphors Galore, Quirkiness Reigns – Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Moonrise Kingdom - Official Poster from IMDB.com

Moonrise Kingdom – Official Poster from IMDB.com

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward and Bruce Willis

When I said I was going to see Moonrise Kingdom a friend asked me “So you’re a Wes Anderson fan?” and to be honest I would never have considered myself a fan of Wes Anderson. His movies are quirky, strange, and in some cases just completely bizarre. But after seeing Moonrise Kingdom I think I finally understand why people either love or hate him. However if you hate this film then there is something seriously wrong with you and you need to go to Disneyland and reclaim your childhood or something.

To try and describe Moonrise Kingdom would be to strip it bare of any real substance. At its heart it is about the love of children and how they feel passionate and life defining things. But there is so much more than that to the film. I could rant and rave for hours about the nuances of genius in the screenplay, or the incredible performances by every single one of the cast members, including the three little brothers of our heroine, Suzy (Kara Hayward). The children in this film are incredible actors and actresses. Most of the time I was sitting in awe of their ability to bring this story into life with their genuine acting. There was nothing false about their performances. The two main leads Suzy and Sam (Jared Gilman) are both “troubled” children, they are misunderstood and are trying to live in a world that will never really, truly understand why they are a little bit quirky or different. And they deal with it splendidly. Their adventure is crafted with such a big vision but also with an innocence that defines even the smallest things like what they pack for their escape. Suzy and Sam are two characters who I will never forget, they make me want to be a child again and wish that I was more adventurous when I was one.

Moonrise is beautiful and quirky and fun in every moment but with an underlying sadness of the adult lives of our parents, scout masters, and policemen. Anderson brings to light how children see the world with so much more depth than we give them credit for. We forget so easily what it was like to be a child, a teenager, a young adult even. Instead we try and grow up, we try and put on a brave face rather than being brave, and we forget how to enjoy the simple little things in life like the beauty of music and how it is constructed in so many layers. Anderson brings to light the falsehoods of adulthood, and the way we can affect children in even the smallest of ways with our actions and opinions. This film is filled with beautiful metaphors of life and love. I really want to find a way to use this as an English text as a teacher.

P.S. I still don’t love Bill Murray because he embodies the awkward and tense humour which I continually both cringe at and giggle to. It’s just too confusing to deal with. He’s great in this film, but I still don’t love him.