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“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”
a review by Darby O’Gill

I’m going to try and do the best that I can to explain exactly what’s going on in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It’s based on a graphic novel series by Brian Lee O’Malley, but it’s not a comic about superheroes, it’s more of a romantic/comedy heavily laced with video game pop culture. Take that and add the one of a kind vision of writer/director Edgar Wright and you got pure movie magic. Wright is best known for his mixture of comedy and action in such films as Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is more like that of his earlier work on the BBC TV series, Spaced. And much like Spaced, Pilgrim uses a sense of everyday life, but mixes it with creative camera movement and flashy pop culture references, to give the movie a look and feel that can only be described as Edgar Wright at his best.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is just your average twentysomething slacker, whose garage band has just managed to recruit its first female groupie, and knows that fame and fortune can’t be too far behind. But, life as Scott knows it is about to change forever, when the girl of his dreams rollerblades her way into his life. Some girls come with baggage, but Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) comes with her own League of Evil Exes, and if Scott wants to be with her, he’s going to have to defeat all seven of them. This is where the video game references kind of come into play. It’s more of a parallel really, like that of The Warriors, where the main character’s journey is laid out in the format of levels. And the fights seem to mirror the reality of musicals, but instead of breaking out into song when emotions get to their breaking point, in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World they just breakout into fights. I personally prefer the latter. It’s like Street Fighter meets When Harry Met Sally, with maybe a splash of Clerks. The other thing I really loved was Wright’s use of text in the film. It’s so well integrated into the look and feel of the movie, that it really sticks with you after words. The feeling that you have when you leave the theatre is amazing. I couldn’t tell you the last time a movie got me this fired up after seeing it. Is it going to win an Academy Award? Probably not, but the bottom line here is that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is hands down the best movie of the summer, if not the year! No, really. It could even be my favorite Edgar Wright movie to date. I’ll need to see it a few more times, and I can guarantee that I will, before knowing that for sure. But, one thing I do know for sure is that you have got to go see this movie!

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“Up In the Air”
a review by Darby O’Gill

I think the best way to sum up my feelings about Up In the Air, is just that… up in the air. I know a lot of people are going over the moon for this film, but I’m not as in love with it. Don’t get me wrong, I think the movie is fantastic, but I just don’t think it’s as groundbreaking as people are making it out to be. The writing, directing, and performances in Up In the Air are all top notch. I just feel there have been other, all be it smaller, films that have handled the subject matter better. It’s not their fault they couldn’t land George Clooney to star, and the son of Ghostbusters to direct. Now, I’m not hating on Jason Reitman. In fact, I thought Juno was great! And, I think he’s proved himself to be an extremely talented director with this film, and I look forward to his next.

In Up In the Air, Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is in the business of letting people go. Ryan travels from city to city and fires hundreds of people a day. What a wonderfully uplifting theme for a movie in these times when unemployment is at an all-time high. I guess the studio just really wanted to release a movie that people could relate to. As you would imagine, Ryan is quite the frequent flyer, and is very close to reaching his ultimate goal of ten million frequent flyer miles. But before he can, his company is about to do some budget cuts of their own. Why fly all over the country, when you can just iChat or Skype with the client from the home office? But before the changes can take effect, Ryan gets one last trip as he takes a young protégé, played by Anna Kendrick, on the road for some old school hands on training. At its heart, Up In the Air is about a man coming to terms with his life, and also the fact that we may not always end up with the life we planned for. It is a really well written script, which is equally matched by Jason Reitman’s amazing directing style.

George Clooney gives an outstanding performance, but its just Clooney being classic brilliant Clooney. You could easily intercut Ryan Bingham with Danny Ocean and not miss a beat. I’m not saying Clooney phoned it in. I’m just saying that this character is the same sort of soft spoken intelligent man that we come to expect to see Clooney play. Truth be told, I wouldn’t want anyone else to play a role like this, but I really can’t see this as the best performance of his career. Which brings me back to my first point, this movie is all over the award shows this year, and I just honestly don’t think it’s one of the best movies of the year. It might be in my top ten, but definitely not in my top five for this year. Up In the Air really reminds me of this great movie that came out back in 2000, called Diamond Men. I know, you’ve never heard of it. And, that is a crime. But, if you are one of the millions of people that loved Up In the Air, and think it disserves to win best picture, do yourself a favor and watch Diamond Men. You might also want to checkout one of my all time favorite movies, Spring Forward; which also has some of the same undertones as Up In the Air, and is quite a fantastic movie of it’s own. Look, Up In the Air is a great movie, and I will gladly add it to my DVD library. But, best movie of the year? Maybe not. Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend seeing Up In the Air, it’s everything a movie should be, and you’ll be very glad that you saw it.

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