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This week:
(500) Days of Summer

Filthy says:
"No, the kids are not all right."

How shitty was music a decade ago? I was pretty drunk at that time, sort of like now, so I don't have total recall but it must have been pretty fucking awful with all that Blink 182, Limp Bizkit, Green Day and Slipknot. Perhaps t raised a generation that sought to find a message in someone else's music. After all, those bands are all shitty facsimiles of what came directly before them. The reason I believe this is because, in movies, the kids have skipped over that crap and use the sound of the 80s and early 90s: Pixies, Replacements, The Smiths and so on. Why couldn't they find their own voice? Didn't they get the notice that pop music is disposable?

I ask this question because the fucking dreadful and faux sweet (500) Days of Summer, about contemporary people in their twenties, relies heavily on a soundtrack from a decade before the characters' youths. Yes, the title has parentheses in it, just like (and as pretentious as) a self-important pop song. The movie was co-written by the folks responsible for the floater in the tank Pink Panther 2, a clinical example of bile regurgitation. I am sad to say that in (Summer) a character struts around Los Angeles to a Hall & Oates tune with a flank of Solid Gold rejects, and that an animated bluebird of happiness also appears. The movie's guts are not only shaped by the makers' belief in the twee drivel of "Belle and Sebastian", it directly quotes the band and then tells us doing so is irresistible.

Joseph Levitt-Gordon plays a greeting card writer--yes, seriously, the screenwriters are that fucking lame--who once wanted to be an architect. It cracks me up that the smug hacks behind this shit look down on greeting cards without realizing they write above that level of schmaltz and corniness but using hipper locales and wardrobes. Levitt-Gordon is a droopy dullard friends with a couple of lame-ass boiler-plate movie "guy" friends who play tabletop Donkey Kong with him and say preposterous shit like, "You're the best guy I know" when not taking a weak stab at playfully calling each other gay. Oh, those guys! Because movie cliches aren't heavy enough, the story also inexplicably gives Gordon-Levitt a sassy younger sister who gives him romantic advice that is wise beyond her years (and that has no impact on the story other than its another cutesy bullshit touchstone).

Into Gordon-Levitt's office and his life comes Zooey Deschanel, a girl who, we're told, is irresistibly adorable but apparently has no friends, no history and little in her repertoire besides Mona Lisa smiles and the sort of outsized confidence lonely male writers assign to girls they never speak to.

Deschanel's lack of personality or presence is, I guess, the point because Levitt-Gordon falls madly in love with her, or at least decides he has, regardless of who she is and despite her telling him they are only fuck friends and that she doesn't believe in love. He is left to build her into something enormous in his mind, something that he can't live without. The movie then goes through the (500) days of joy and sadness the couple endures before breaking up for good and going different directions. Their joys are the sort of fake cutesy bullshit that might be in International Coffee commercials if they were dreamed up by someone who hung out in a record shop for a day. They pretend to live in the model rooms of an Ikea (and crack each other up), they watch porn all cute-like, as though part of the joy isn't getting turned on, feeling a little dirty and a little grossed out, and they talk about how much they love the Smiths.

(50)0 Days (of) Summer is the most solipsistic movies I've seen since Andy Warhol's fourteen-hour Super-8 film of his navel. The amount of gravity put on a paper-thin romance is far more painful than anything the characters do or supposedly feel. That's because director Marc Webb never places the romance in any larger context. It's like a hermetic bubble in which only these two people live, and only the writer and director's experience matters. It makes the story shallow and suffocating. Webb assumes this is a universal story that the audience immediately relates to and secondary characters and subplots aren't worth developing. Late in the movie, Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel reunite at a wedding, but the movie never even bothers to introduce us to the couple marrying. He also uses the Smiths, Replacements and Clash because they are the music of his youth, not that of his characters. Similarly, shots of these lovers as kids are on Super 8, which looks cool, but since they were little kids in the early 90s, where the hell did their parents get that film developed? The local art school? It's this total disregard for period detail that inform you Webb really has a limited understanding of the generation he's filming.

Webb and his writers lard the flick with tired gimmickry: characters address the camera directly with a smirk or speeches about what love means to them (in black and white! What the fuck is this, first year film school?). There are two drunken karaoke sessions. There is ironic voiceover telling us this movie is not a love story (wink, wink). There is the aforementioned Hall & Oates dancing-in-the-streets sequence that's so fucking long and so God damn precious it made me take off one of my shoes and vomit in it. And I would have liked that better, except I had puked some bad carnitas into the bushes before I entered the theater so the well was dry. I want to warn you away from Gordon-Levitt's big speech at a company meeting about how greeting cards are insincere and prevent people from really expressing themselves. He then quits his job and mopes around in his bathrobe like an old curmudgeon. Add in the unbearable scene where Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel go to a modern art exhibit and stare at stuff they don't understand until finally saying, "Want to go to a movie?" It's like a compendium of cute scenes that never happen in real life but are still trite because the sentiment behind them are so fucking dimestore cheap. To think Webb and his screenwriters have the balls to fling that shit at the screen and still put down greeting cards.

(500 Days) of (Summer) was made by people who are really impressed with themselves, and so self-absorbed they have no idea how uninteresting they are. It looks like a director's first attempt, before he learns restrain, and it treats its lightweight sentimentality with way too much regard. I found it damn near unwatchable, like seeing a sort-of-attractive girl at a coffee shop holding a Deepak Chopra book and hoping someone notices how deep and intellectual she's being. She has no clue, and neither do the makers of 5(0)0 D(a)ys of Sum(me)r. (One) Fucking Finger.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Pete Hammond of Boxoffice Magazine

My One and Only is "an exceptionally good comedy. Loaded with laughs, heart and wonderful performances. Renee is at her best!"

In The Time Traveler's Wife "McAdams and Bana are a perfect pairing!"

Filthy's Reading
Philip Roth - Exit Ghost

Listening to
No Age - Nouns


Jurassic Park