Saturday, July 18, 2009

500 Days of Summer - I Approve

"Oh, how I *heart* this film!" says a text message I composed while in the theater.

I have noted in here before that the year 2004 meant a whole lot of things to me mostly because of the art I experienced. It was a whole lot of art and a whole lot of references. It was also the first year in which the sacrifices I made were specifically art-informed.
Ars gratia artis?
Pretty much, yes.

And even though I get a whole lot of artistic references on a daily basis, there's something inimitable about those spaces in time when you know you're getting things for the first time. Things like what it means to be late for an important meeting but deep down you're not harrowed by the usual sense of guilt/duty you've known your whole life because, after all, you were doing something great: you were watching a limited release indie film and while you were doing so you were "feeling infinite."
I had to insert a "Perks of Being a Wallflower" reference here, didn't I? It seems like the paragraph asked for it.

There's something to be said about films made by or for performers who either get music or make music. A cinematic artist with an informed interest in music is powerful. S/he begs for attention. I, at least, give them all the attention I can. And that's not a small or insignificant amount.

For instance, when Garden State first opened, I remember feeling the need to see it. Alas, it wasn't opening where I lived so I flew to a place where it was playing. You know those times in life when you don't know what you are experiencing or are about to experience and yet you get this 'sense of possibility' in the air that you don't know how to explain but are very happy to have?

Consider it a rhetorical question.

Some context here might help.

I first flew to Seattle and then to Minneapolis. I saw Garden State and when Zach Braff was letting the soundtrack do as much of the storytelling as his language/script, I recognized a feeling I only get when in the company of the kind of art that's congruent with my own essence. I, as a fellow art lover, felt 'gotten.' My edification was sort of the kind I get when at a Verdi opera or during the last leg of an impeccable dinner where all the right things are uttered at the right time and with the right tone

I should have reviewed 500 Days of Summer earlier but I needed the right kind of language and the right kind of space to come my way. And they did. Just as I was catching up with my favorite cousin while randomly rocking out to Deep Purple, the Stone Temple Pilots, and naturally, The Killers. The musical references are nothing if not relevant here.

For one thing is certain, if music doesn't mean a whole lot of important things to you, you will not get the point of this film.

500 Days of Summer is delicate, musically informed, fragile, existential, and beautifully played by two spot-on performers: Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Incidentally, if you didn't see Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Brick, I'd recommend that you do. He has this weight of innate melancholy about him that comes out occasionally in 500 Days of Summer but the viewer cannot be fully aware of it if s/he has not seen it in its full glory. Brick wasn't necessarily my cup of tea but his acting made the film-viewing experience noteworthy.

This is a beautiful picture. It will make you feel. It will make you think. It will make you feel even luckier to have the gift of music. It might make you think, but for a fleeting moment, of Shopgirl, the Science of Sleep, and Garden State.

Ah, and this:

subscribe Subscribe to HetPer

subscribe Subscribe to Gendering the Media Podcast


Becca said...

I will SO see this. Zooey loves the Smiths.
And Joseph Gordon-Leavitt is in it too? Btw, talk about a child actor who transitioned really well to adulthood.
His intensity in Brick was a beautiful thing to watch.... Absolutely.
I cannot wait to see this. Thanks for the references in here, too.

Anonymous said...

This is a review with heart!
This must truly be good.
Will definitely check it out.

Sra said...

I love the sort of simultaneous idealistic and realistic portrayal of love. The music was very important to this film.

Unknown said...

Nice job in matching the 'tone' of the film.
Yes, the very end of Shopgirl when Claire Danes' character and Steve Martin's character speak for the last time gives you a 'feel of LA you usually don't get. LA comes across as an almost fragile type of town. I need to revisit that film.
Deschanel and Gordon-Leavitt hit the absolute right tone in this film. What a find!
It's only the second time I've had the need to go to the movies this year. First Whatever Works and now this.

Unknown said...

Also, soundtrack-wise, I thought of Wonder Boys, too. Music is as great a storyteller as the film itself.

Will said...

A good example of ho music can be used to enhance a filmic experience.

I felt light watching this. Thanks for the review. Was wondering how you read it.

Anonymous said...

It did have that Science of Sleep feel, especially the end.
Zooey has the right aesthetic for this kind of role.

Will said...

Oh, and, the little girl is the funniest in this movie. I cracked up when she said:
"Just 'cause some girl like the same bizarre crap you do, does not make her your soulmate."

The one-liners in this movie were incredible!

Alex said...


It's playing in my area. Going in an hour.
Thank you!!

Dana said...

You found the soundtrack that good?!

Really, what made this so special?!?!

Becca said...

This is an amazing soundtrack!
Carla Bruni's track is super great!

And Sweet Disposition is my Let Go of the summer.

How's that for an inside reference?

I missed this (you) last month.

Will go and watch this again tomorrow as I don't know how long it will be playing in my area.

B.R. said...

It's a beautiful picture, as I noted on the post.
It's a film that speaks especially to those who respond to certain art forms.
Wait, why do I think this is a good soundtrack?
Well, it has The Smiths, it quotes Belle and Sebastian, (it actually quotes them right and in the right context), the tracks inform the screenplay most carefully, and the track Sweet Disposition, (I do agree with you Becca), is powerful the way Frou Frou's "Let Go" was on Garden State.

To me the film signals the new art of a post-bailout culture. It's the art where angst and some notion of idealism can still manage to coexist and to do so they are in dire need of art, the feeding kind.
Please! Why do I like the soundtrack?!?! [insert Jerry Seinfeld-esque tone].

Anonymous said...

Sweet Disposition. Good track. I'll try to listen to it sparingly so that I can enjoy it longer.
Zooey's clothes were so spot-on in this movie.
And Joseph looked so Smiths-informed here. A young Morrissey almost.
This movie captures 'indie' so well for me....

Liam said...

out 31 july 2009 in slc.

Unknown said...

I want you to know I've seen this three times. I blame you. And your playlists!