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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Thoughts on Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas

Yesterday I felt like watching Anna Kendrick in movies, so I watched Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas. I liked Drinking Buddies, more so for Olivia Wilde's performance. It is a romantic comedy centering around Wilde and Jake Johnson as best friends who work together in a Chicago brewery, and deal with drama in their romantic relationships. Kendrick is good as Johnson's girlfriend, she adapts well in small movies.

I think Wilde has found her stride in indie films lately (Butter, Better Living Through Chemistry), she had been bland for many years before that in mainstream movies and T.V. I liked her in interviews way back from 2006 because of her parents' illustrious background in journalism and her wit, but that charisma was often lost onscreen. She is just much better in indie films that allow her to be funny and multifaceted.

Happy Christmas stars Kendrick and Melanie Lynskey, and Kendrick plays a person trying to get her life together and avoid her addictions (alcohol, weed) while living with her brother and his family, Lynskey plays his wife who is a novelist and stay-at-home mom. She loves her son, but is bored and creatively frustrated while being a SAHM, and wants to go to a retreat to write her second novel. Kendrick's character is likable and sympathetic even while messing up, and the movie stays fairly light, it has a hopeful feel of her turning out OK. She is just good at playing relatable characters, and seeming normal while having immense Broadway talent and huge fame. It is just nice seeing her bring that likability in smaller films and fitting into them as well as in big movie musicals.
Both movies are directed by Joe Swanberg, and are pretty good. Lena Dunham has a supporting role in Happy Christmas, and is surprisingly not annoying.

I am biased to not like indie hipster directors because I grew to despise them while working at Filmmaker, but Swanberg is good, and Ti West makes some good horror movies. I however, can't stand the Duplass brothers, and I cannot stand Mark Duplass. I disliked him in Safety Not Guaranteed, and cannot watch anything else he stars in. I think Greta Gerwig can act, but I cannot stand Noah Baumbach movies (though I liked Gerwig's performances in Frances Ha and Mistress America), and their cutesy partnership turns me off. So, yeah, I like indie movies, but not insular hipster twee stuff.

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