Ruby Sparks

August 17, 2012

Calvin (Paul Dano), is an author who has yet to properly follow up his breakout first novel, published when he was only 19.  He has, as these things usually go, a significant case of writer’s block compounded (or because of) his significant self doubt.  He sees a therapist (Elliot Gould), where he clutches a plush dog toy and calls his ex-girlfriend a ‘bitch’ and complains about a lack of inspiration.  He’s instructed to write a very bad one-page story about the kind of person who might like his dysfunctional dog Scottie and bring it back to the next session.  In the process of attempting to write he manages to hold onto a vision of a girl and write it down.  The character’s name is Ruby Sparks, and she will eventually materialize in the form of Zoe Kazan. Read the rest of this entry »

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

August 29, 2010

As much as I have fond memories of my childhood and the frivolities of life as a youngster, I can’t help but find certain hipster trends in recent years both shallow and regressive.  Yes, I loved playing SNES games and arcade fighters and I loved the Smashing Pumpkins, but referencing the obsessions of a bygone era does not endear me to the nostalgia-laden world that people selling Megaman t-shirts and and their chillwave bands are basking in.  Not to denigrate the cultural touchstones of a generation, obviously including my own, but the mere mention of a tanooki suit does not fill me warm, fuzzy feelings and it certainly does not elicit a chuckle.  Such are the dangers of geekdom, for making some ‘shit that is awesome’ is not enough to generally enough to make that same ‘shit’ interesting, and certainly not if the only thing ‘awesome’ about it is that it stirs up memories of my life as an 11 year old.  After all, ‘Remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.

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Rom-coms that centre around adult women tend to be about unbelievably gorgeous career woman who just haven’t found the right man, and that right man is almost always a well-built, clever, and extremely handsome man.  He probably lacks a heart-on-his-sleeve sensitive side, but the woman need only scratch beyond the bickering and the brusque exterior to find it.  Perhaps this is true of teen movies that centre around girls as well.  After all, Molly Ringwald ends up with Jake and Blane, not the Geek or Duckie.  In whatever circumstance (yes, Ringwald was the outsider in both those films), you rarely see a film in the genre where the athlete is the star.  Oh, there are exceptions, but even in She’s All That, it’s Rachel Leigh Cook that goes on a journey, not Freddie Prinze Jr.  So perhaps the makeshift rule that should be completely disregarded after reading is that if a film is targeted at women, the guy can be hunky and awesome, but targeted at men, the guy will often be an awkward outsider, maybe even a loser (the exception here is Say Anything, in which Lloyd Dobler is much-beloved, an athlete, but still sensitive and culturally savvy enough to be considered outside the ‘conformist mainstream’, if that’s what it is).  I suspect, to go further and narrower, this happens a lot in films about teens/young adults because the (typically) male director was himself a sensitive, artistic sort, and their own nostalgia might be wrapped up in the story enough to the point that they identify with the underdog protagonist.  The boys in these stories, through disconnection with the mainstream popular kids and through a lack of experience with the opposite sex, have a tendency to construct idealized notions of women, and in many cases, a particular one.  The three films herein discussed all deal with boys who do just that to varying degrees of success. Read the rest of this entry »