Posts tagged “Annual Leave

Lars and the Real Girl / Doing Less Than Nothing


Lars and the Real Girl  -  Front DVD cover  -  US Release

Sometimes you find love where you’d least expect it.  Just ask Lars (Academy Award Nominee Ryan Gosling), a sweet but quirky guy who thinks he’s found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca.  Lars is completely content with his artificial girlfriend, but when he develops feelings for Margo, an attractive co-worker, Lars finds himself lost in a hilariously unique love triangle, hoping to somehow discover the real meaning of true love.  You’ll be swept off your feet by “Lars and the Real Girl”, hailed as “One of the Year’s 10 Best” by The Associated Press.

2007  –  Certificate: PG-13  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Some Sex-Related Content
8.0 out of 10

I’m on something called Annual Leave at the moment.  This is a strange, but rather welcome concept through which I get paid my salary to do sod all.  In fact for the last two days I’ve done even less than that and in doing so have actually discovered a new physics, which I’ve decided to call “Anti-nothing”.  This is a weird, quantum effect wherein you can actually do less than nothing at all.  It’s pretty scary stuff too.  It’s only through washing my sleeping bag at one point that I avoided crossing over the non-event horizon and falling into some sort of parallel dimension where no one does anything ever.  I’ve never been there myself, although I think I’ve met a few people who have.  Doing nothing has given me the time to enjoy the view out of my window a little more than usual.  I’ve notice a huge, bright orange building that has suddenly spring up amongst the trees that I’ve never seen before.  There’re also a couple of cars in the car park that have had most of their windows smashed in, which are accompanied by a number of dented panels.  I’ve no idea what the story is behind them, but they’ve been sitting there, neatly parked, side by side for several days now, and resemble a couple that have had a row and now aren’t speaking to one another.  Whoever owns then hasn’t even bothered to sweep up the glass or block up the holes.  Weird.  I’ve also observed the police dealing with who I imagine is my local drug dealer.  They spent ages searching him and his car yesterday morning; I watched all the action through my binoculars.  The good thing is that the car has gone now, because it’s been frequently and annoying parked just where I turn in.  There’s never a dull moment around here!  This movie has none of these exciting things in it, yet it’s still very entertaining.

This is basically a comedy-drama about a guy who buys a blow-up sex doll to have as his girlfriend.  Now I’ll readily admit that I’m not an expert in such ‘things’, but I’m willing to bet that most who are don’t take them outside to meet other people very often.  Although we live in relatively enlightened times, I’m not sure the world is quite ready for ‘significant others’ down the pub, at the shops or in the cinema, who are made of silicon and rubber and have lifelike ‘bits’ under their clothes.   It’s probably acceptable in the Star Trek version of the far future and in Japan right now, but for the rest of us it’s a bit of a social faux pas.  But this film sees Ryan Gosling doing exactly that.  This would all seem to suggest that this movie’s going to be full of smutty innuendo and body-function-based humour.  Actually it’s nothing like that at all.  It’s much more of a study of how one individual starts to recover from a life-long difficulty in relating to people.  Yes it is very funny at times, but it’s also quite moving too.  I really like Ryan Gosling and he seems to totally nail the part in this film.  The plot does start to stretch the boundaries of realism, especially towards the end, but it’s well written, acted and made.  Kelli Garner is very cute too.  An original, well-observed and great film.  It’s got one of the worst titles ever though.

The soundtrack is fine for what it is, but isn’t very memorable.

The trailer makes this movie seem more of a comedy than it really is.  It probably has most of the best jokes in it.

Recommended for people who work in builders’ merchants, mums-to-be, parents that want to have to explain what a “Living Doll” is to their offspring whilst watching the movie, and anyone who works in an office with people who clutter their desks with toys.  (I despair at some of my own colleagues, who stick lumps of brightly coloured fur-with-eyes to their monitors and clutter their work spaces with animal-based, plastic fripperies and desk tidies full of virtually unusable and hideously ugly pens.)

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  In the same way as I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to voting for UKIP, I’ve never met anyone who’s admitted to using a blow-up sex doll. However, given the number of votes and sales associated with both, I probably have unknowingly met quite a few.  So it’s a pretty badass thing to take your blow-up girlfriend out and about with you, especially if you start to have conversations with her in public too.  (I’m not so sure voting for UKIP is though.)

Lars and the Real Girl at IMDB (7.4/10)
Lars and the Real Girl at Wikipedia
Lars and the Real Girl at Roger Ebert (3.5/4)
Lars and the Real Girl trailer at YouTube

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Time To Leave / Summer Holidays


Time to Leave  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Acclaimed filmmaker Francois Ozon’s most intimate and lyrical work, ‘Time To Leave’ features a moving performance from Melvil Poupaud as a 30 year-old man facing up to the reality of his own mortality.  With his perfect life thrown into chaos by the shock diagnosis of a serious illness, fashion photographer Romain finds himself unable to share the news with his boyfriend or family, confiding instead only in his grandmother (affectingly played by screen legend Jeanne Moreau).  But anger and denial give way to an acceptance of sorts when a chance encounter with a waitress (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) offers Romain a glimmer of hope and the unexpected chance to leave something of himself behind.

2005  –  Certificate: 18  –  French Film
Rating Details:  Strong Sex
8.5 out of 10

I like this time of year.  Once my birthday has passed, the clocks have gone forward, I don’t need the heating on at home, we’ve got over the end of the Financial Year at work and the winter is fast receding, things start to look better.  The spring has arrived and the local plants and wild animals have started doing their stuff.  The weather’s getting better and the days are longer.  I can go to gigs and not freeze half to death on the way home in a soggy t-shirt.  And with all the bank holidays and most of my Annual Leave from work left to take, I get to (allegedly) work some shorter weeks; in fact from last week onwards I’m only meant to be working two out of the next twelve as five-day weeks.  A three-day weekend suits me I think.  I’ve even been giving some half-hearted thought to going on holiday somewhere.  I won’t be going far from Cactus World, but I feel I ought to do something.  After knackering my ankle on the South Downs Way a few years ago, I’ve been a bit reluctant to put it under too much pressure since, as it still doesn’t feel quite right.  But I might take a few days and go camping/walking along a canal; that will have a decent, flat path and plenty of pubs scattered along it.  The Kennet & Avon Canal starts only a few minutes walk from where I live and runs for 87 miles, so I may well pick on that.  Talk about putting minimal effort into planning a holiday!  This film ends on a beach, which is holiday-like.  And beaches are by water, just like canal tow-paths.  (Sorry, that’s the best link I can manage.)

Romain is a somewhat arrogant fashion photographer, who, when diagnosed with a serious illness, chooses not to have any treatment for it or to tell many people, but instead goes about pissing off most of those around him.  (They’re all rather forgiving it has to be said.)  Of course, as the film progresses, he goes on a life-journey of sorts, but in my opinion he never ceases being a little too self-centred.  So, he’s not the most likable of characters.  Now, I watch quite a lot of French films; (French movies are the fourth most common I watch, after American, British and Japanese).  However, I’ve never come across Melvil Poupaud before, but he puts in a totally amazing performance as Romain.  The film’s worth watching for this alone, although all the acting is uniformly great.  I don’t often single out actors but I was seriously impressed by this guy.  Even where the script or plot wobbled a bit he managed to make it all seem very believable.  Some of the scenes can’t have been easy to film either.  He’s a very good-looking chap, yet he loses a huge amount of weight as the story progresses and ends up being hardly recognisable.  I didn’t really like Romain, yet I really cared about what he was going through.  France is turning out some great movies these days.  They still feel French, but they’re also very grounded too and easier for more of the rest of us to relate to now.  This is an emotionally depressing film, but hugely rewarding too.  The scene where Romain rings his sister really was very powerful.  Go watch.  I’ve just realised that I’ve made this film sound a bit wimpy, but at times it’s quite raw; it didn’t get that 18 Certificate for nothing.

There’s a limited amount of music used in this movie and most of it sits in the background, but it really fits in well.

The trailer uses Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”.  This bit of music isn’t used in the film and it’s a huge cliché, but it does do the job it’s being asked to do here.  (Then again, it’s such a great song that it would be pretty difficult for it not to.)

Recommended for photographers, grandmothers, dysfunctional families and people who spend way too long sitting on beaches.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Romain gives his sister Sophie an especially hard time and clearly had a track-record of doing so, long before he got ill.  Yet when he phones her to apologise, (well I think that’s what he was trying to do), after she’s sent him a letter, she was so nice about it.  She could easily have told the supercilious little sod to get lost, but she didn’t.  I guess that’s pretty badass.

Time to Leave at IMDB (7.2 / 10)
Time to Leave at Wikipedia
Time to Leave trailer