A character drama with a twisted sense of humor Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat (Bradley Cooper) a recently released psychiatric hospital patient who moves back in with his parents and begins a quest to reclaim his broken marriage. Despite the warnings from doctors Pat's mom Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and dad Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) take him in hoping familiar settings and a little Eagles football may be the perfect cure. It isn't — Pat continuously loses his s**t over his ex-wife Nikki frantically stressing over her high school English class' reading syllabus (he toss Hemmingway's A Farewell to Arms straight through a glass window) and breaking down every time he hears their wedding song. There's no hope for him and Nikki — catching her with another man and beating him to a pulp led to his institutionalizing — but Pat's focused mind doesn't let him deviate.
After being invited to a friend's house for dinner Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who sees a friendship in the bipolar patient. After the death of her husband Tiffany went off the deep end engaging anyone and everyone for sex. She's sees a companion in Pat and although he's reluctant the off-kilter pair can't fight the magnetic power of their psychological issues.
Most of their conversations end in screaming or blunt admissions — but they're relatable.
Mental illness and human connection may sound like an equation for eye-roll-worthy saccharine but director David O. Russell mines Cooper and Lawrence's comedic strengths to turn Silver Linings Playbook into one of the funniest movies of the year.
Nothing is off limits for Russell; one reoccurring joke is that Pat can't stop bringing up the fact that Tiffany's husband is dead. As Tiffany puts it to Pat, "You say more inappropriate things than appropriate things."
To make Pat aware of how his bipolar existence affects the people around him and to make us the audience feel for this heart-wrenching experience Russell shoots and paces Silver Linings Playbook for awkward comedy.
He also returns to the always-reliable family dynamic. The Fighter is to Boston as Silver Linings Playbook is to Philadelphia De Niro perfecting the Eagles-loving everyman with a collection of betting buddies who may be just as delusional as Pat.
The legendary actor proved he had comedy chops in Meet the Parents but here he blends it with gravitas that earned him a legacy in the first place. Rush Hour actor Chris Tucker also pops up as Pat's good friend from the institution. More restrained than ever Tucker helps add warmth to the picture. Pat has a support system everywhere he turns. In essence the film emanates with positive vibes.
Even with a great ensemble Silver Linings Playbook is Cooper and Lawrence's show. To the bitter end Pat and Tiffany never get sappy with one another always at each other's throats over the feelings they harbor and the pasts they can't shake away.
Cooper loses himself in the chaotic mind of Pat without ever slipping into a caricature of the mentally ill. He can stir up laughs with his desperate search for Pat's missing wedding video and then shock us in the blink of an eye when things turn violent.
Impressively Lawrence's Tiffany is never written down. She never succumbs to being a comforting presence always provoking Pat to push himself.
She's a strong woman but a strong woman juggling her own set of issues. Lawrence conveys all of that without missing a beat. That dynamic should be make Silver Linings Playbook the talk of the town come Oscar time.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The premise of It Might Get Loud is simple: three legendary guitarists Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin The Edge of U2 and Jack White of The White Stripes talk about guitars. Hearing these masters muse on their instrument of choice is an appealing conversation even for those not adept at the device and it’s wholly fascinating for those who are. Beautifully lit high-def close-ups of the trio’s fleet of instruments also function as hardcore guitar porn for six-string enthusiasts.
The documentary-style flick directed by An Inconvenient Truth’s Davis Guggenheim is more than just 97 minutes of the three guitar heroes waxing poetic about their axes. Above all else It Might Get Loud is an homage to the talent and lives of these genre-altering musicians. Using the guitar as a point of entry Guggenheim coaxes stories musings and memories out of Page Edge and White each of whom has more than a few good tales to tell. The film follows each guitarist to their respective homes in England Dublin and Nashville and then finally to a soundstage in Los Angeles where the three legends meet to talk music. Then they have a jam session and fulfill a million musical fantasies.
WHO’S IN IT?
The cast is composed only of Jack White as the rogue of modern rock The Edge as the straight man and Jimmy Page as the elder statesman. They’re enough.
The film is an intimate foray into the lives and careers of three men who have changed the game of rock and roll. The guitar stuff is interesting but what’s better is hearing each guy talk about his start in music career progression recording iconic tracks etc. The film humanizes each musician especially White whose expertly manicured public persona is steeped in Dylan-esque mystery. Hearing the pale guy at the center of the peppermint-striped lore talk about growing up in Detroit filling his tiny childhood bedroom with musical equipment and cutting his first LP while working as a furniture upholsterer is welcome insight for fans.
It Might Get Loud is packed with rare footage photos and recordings from the careers of all three artists. We get to see Jimmy Page’s first appearance on British television as a boy The White Stripes doing a concert for the elderly and The Edge pulling out a box of unmarked cassette tapes popping one in and discovering it to the be an early version of “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
Until they meet at the soundstage “summit ” Page White and Edge are shot separately. While the intercutting of these segments is more or less seamless a few jumps are a bit clunky and the text mechanism that breaks the film into chapters comes off a touch hokey. These are small criticisms; the film is essentially a cinematic wet dream complete with epic soundtrack for anyone interested in the subject matter.
There’s a deluxe box set worth of amazing moments but the scene in which The Edge discusses his E chord stands out. With guitar in hand he explains that the particular chord typically has a bit of distortion inherent in its sound. He however has stripped his E chord of said excess noise and made it more basic. He plays both E chords and the difference is almost imperceptible. He says it’s this type of simplification that has given his guitar sound its trademark minimalism. This might seem like a trivial geeked-out detail until you consider that he's talking about a little-known contributing element of some of the most iconic guitar intros in popular music.
It’s also cool to watch the look on Jack White’s face as he hangs out with Jimmy Page. White seems barely able to control his excitement as Page gives him guitar pointers.
It Might Get Loud is a treat for anyone even a little bit interested in guitars rock and roll legendary bands musical history classic songs Led Zeppelin The White Stripes and U2. If you like any of these things even a little bit see this movie. It won't disappoint.
Based on the bestseller by Nicolas Sparks the film begins with Duke (James Garner) and Allie (Gena Rowlands) an inseparable couple living in a nursing home. While Duke remembers their life together Allie who suffers from progressive dementia does not. Their only bond is a faded notebook from which Duke reads to Allie every day telling her the same story over and over. It's a sweeping tale of two South Carolina teens country boy Noah (Ryan Gosling) and city gal Allie (Rachel McAdams) who spend one glorious summer in the early 1940s falling madly in love. Unfortunately the couple is soon separated first by her disapproving parents and then by World War II but after seven years apart after taking different paths they are passionately reunited. There's a catch though; Allie is now faced to choose between the man she once loved and the successful businessman (James Marsden) she is engaged to. It's really no surprise who the young Allie chooses in the end--but for Duke the only thing that keeps him going is the fact that every day somehow through the power of this story the mentally impaired Allie miraculously remembers their love if only for a very brief moment before slipping back into oblivion. Tears being jerked from your eyes yet?
The talented cast certainly elevates The Notebook's romantic drudgery. McAdams takes a departure from all the Mean Girls she's played lately (including The Hot Chick) and easily wins you over as the spirited young Allie while the usually intense Gosling also tackles something lighter so to speak than his previous darker roles such as his Jewish-turned-American Nazi leader in The Believer. While infusing a certain sense of brooding and melancholy into Noah especially in the years he spends pining for Allie Gosling manages to exude Noah's genuine warmth and sensitivity as well. And between the two of them real sparks fly as the actors paint a fresh and inviting picture of young love that stands the test of time. Marsden is completely wasted however as Allie's fiancé Lon a upstanding Southern gentleman Allie's parents expect her to marry who offers little as to why Allie should stay with him. As the older contingency veterans Garner and Rowlands who take the sappiest material and turn it into something meaningful inspire some truly heart-ripping moments as the aging couple holding onto their love as tight as they can. In the supporting cast Joan Allen has some shining moments as Allie's uptight mother with a secret of her own.
In bringing the popular novel about enduring love to life director Nick Cassavetes (Unhook the Stars) may have used his own experiences having seen his parents--the late John Cassavetes and his lady love and muse Gena Rowlands--play out their own real-life love affair. Cassavettes gets to the heart of the material right away and permeates the screen with the beautiful surroundings of South Carolina where The Notebook was filmed. We glide through lush moss-filled swamps and sleepy Southern towns marvel at languid shots of the South Carolina coastline. It's very clear Cassavetes has a way with actors much like his father did gently coaxing realistic performances from his young somewhat untested leads while allowing old guards like Garner and Rowlands to simply work their magic (imagine telling your Oscar-nominated mother how to act. Right). The problem is the story itself which not only offers nothing new to the romance genre but also isn't very compelling. There are no great tragedies (save perhaps for the whole dementia thing) no real villainous presence to keep the lovers apart no peril at all. It's boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl boy-wins-girl-back--ho-hum. Where's the sudsy soap opera when you need it?