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Posts Tagged ‘Adventureland’

I recently saw Clouds of Sils Maria on DVD and was planning to write about it as part of my DVD Gems series of great films that didn’t make it to my local cinema.  I didn’t for two reasons; the film is too good, and has too much going on for a three hundred word review; secondly I keep coming back to one thing about the film, Kristen Stewart.Clouds of Sils Maria

The film stars Juliette Binoche as a world famous actress and movie star.  She splits her time between blockbuster/superhero movies and more serious films and plays.  She accepts a part in a play about a destructive relationship between an younger and older woman.  She is cast in the role of the older woman having previously made her name as the younger woman in the first production and subsequent film adaptation.  Binoche is as brilliant as you would expect but so is her co star Kristen Stewart.Kristen Stewart

Stewart plays the personal assistant to Binoche’s star.  The character is more introverted and less emotional that Binoche’s actress but is equally as passionate.  The character exudes an intelligence that is tempered by youth and naivety.  She cannot always express herself in the way she wishes to.  The greatest achievement of the part is that she is always believable.  She never comes across as an actress playing an assistant, she is totally natural and immersed in the role.  Interestingly the only other person I can think of playing her was also in contention for the part, Mia Wasikowska.  Wasikowska is probably my favourite young actress at the moment but probably couldn’t have done any better than Stewart who is totally sublime.  I am clearly not the only person to be impressed, Kristen Stewart won a César (a French Oscar), the first American actress to win one!Actress Kristen Stewart poses with her trophy during a photocall after winning the Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in the film "Sils Maria" during the 40th Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris

We shouldn’t be surprised, this isn’t the first time Kristen Stewart has impressed in a supporting role.  She bought the same naturalism and innocence to Still Alice as the daughter of Julianne Moore’s Oscar winning lead.  This ability should not come as any surprise, she has always been a talented actress.  Take a look at early roles such as Undertow (2004), Panic Room (2002) and Into the Wild (2007).  Her previously most impressive role was in Adventureland (2009) released between the first two Twilight movies.  And that is the crux of why some people don’t like Stewart and why others are surprised when she is good, Twilight!   A lot of people who dislike Stewart actually or even hate the character Bella Swan not the actress.  All the lip biting and pushing her hair back is the character not the actress, ironically, the haters she has attracted for Twilight are actually a sign of how well she captured the character.Kristen Stewart Adventureland

As far as I can see Clouds of Sils Maria is eligible for next years Oscars having received a general release in April 2105 after spending a year doing the festival rounds.  It is unlikely, but possible that Kristen Stewart could receive an Oscar nomination.   If you don’t believe me, check out Still Alice and Clouds of Sils Maria as well as some of her other movies I have mentioned, if you haven’t already, I would recommend you watch them anyway. 

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I have recently watched Adventureland and (500) Days of Summer for the first time since seeing them at the cinema in 2009. On first viewing I enjoyed both movies slightly favouring Adventureland, but how have they aged? Firstly for those who don’t know them here is a brief synopsis of each:

Adventureland: Following a change in their fanatical circumstances James Brennan’s (Jesse Eisenberg) parents are unable to help pay his rent whilst away at college and fund his long planned European vacation. Instead he is forced to take a summer job, to this end he finds himself working at a rundown theme park. The games are rubbish and the rides ancient but the place does have its charms most notably Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart).

(500) Days of Summer: Set over 500 days but dispensing with a linear narrative instead choosing to jump backwards and forwards to different parts of the relationship between Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Through this we gradually build up a picture of who these people are as well as what happened to them.

The big problem with Adventureland on its initial release is that it was very poorly marketed. Directed by Greg Mottola of Superbad fame the trailer and marketing suggest it will be a similar type of film. What we actually get is a far more thoughtful and tender film, the characters have the emotional vulnerability and depth of real people that is lacking in post American Pie movies that would probably be more appropriately labelled teenploitation than teen comedy. An extremely well written movie, it could have been set in any time or place but actually wears its 1980’s setting a well avoiding the usual pitfalls of “period” films with their ironic dialogue and nostalgic nods to the age.

The tone of (500) Days of Summer is perfectly set by the Author’s Note that appears at the start of the film: The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely Coincidental …….. Especially you Jenny Beckman……… Bitch. We are reminded that it isn’t a love story, a claim that is not entirely true, but it certainly isn’t a “rom-com” in the traditional sense. This is a good thing, a very good thing as is the skill with witch the none linear narrative is handled. The film also benefits from great dialogue.

Adventureland’s casting is perfect, Jesse Eisenberg’s James is the perfect blend of geek, hopeless romantic with just the tiniest glimmer of cool, think Patrick Fugit in Almost Famous or any one of a number of parts played by Michael Cera. The real star of the film is Kristen Stewart in her first post Twilight movie. The role of an emotionally damaged teenager isn’t a hugely demanding one but she is perfectly cast and shows ability far beyond what her detractors would have you believe she is capable of. Ryan Reynolds, provides good support and there is fantastic comic relief from Bill Hader and the always brilliant Kristen Wiig.

(500) Days of Summer is equally well cast, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who at the time was best known to me as the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun) is excellent displaying great range and providing comic moments in his successes and his failures. Zooey Deschanel is only partly successful, she only seems able to play slight variations on the same slightly kooky character but that does work in this film but does nothing to enhance my opinion of her as a actress.

The second viewing has done nothing to change my opinion, I like both of these films but if anything my preference for Adventureland has increased slightly. If you haven’t seen these two movies they are well worth a look. If you have seen them and like them, here are five recommendations: Dazed and Confused (1993), Almost Famous (2000), Cashback (2006), Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010).

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