Posts Tagged ‘Silver Linings Playbook


Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Knock knock. Who's there? A potential Academy Award contending movie.

Knock knock. Who’s there? A potential Academy Award contending movie.

Ah the holidays . . . a time when families comes together, talk, and catch up with relatives. And while Silver Linings Playbook isn’t a holiday per se, it’s definitely a film representative of our culture today (at least part of it anyway). It’s got everything you could possibly want from a holiday film: drama, family issues, and love. I mean, what more could you ask for?

In many ways Silver Linings Playbook is sort of a current take on the dysfunctional family movie. Think along the lines of something with the vibe of American Beauty, but updated for 2012. You have Pat who’s just been released from a mental institution, trying to deal with bipolar disorder stemming from a breakdown he suffers when he catches his wife having an affair. Then you also have Tiffany who’s dealing with depression and the death of her husband. Both are supported by their families, but both struggle to deal with how to handle the little things in their everyday lives; some things that us “normal people” would consider second nature. In our world where there’s a medication to solve any of our problems and an abundance of therapies to work through our psychological issues; the story of two slightly broken people developing a relationship based on their common experience with mental instability doesn’t seem that out of place.

Probably the biggest thing the film has going for it is the cast. Everyone in the film is pretty solid and the three top names in the film are all giving Academy Award level performances. Ok, maybe Academy Award level is a bit hyperbolic, but trust me when I say that Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro are all turning in the performance of their career/the last 10 years.


Cooper is probably giving his best performance to date in a role that draws from other characters in his filmography. he utilizes some of his doucheyness from Wedding Crashers, mixed with some of his cool guy persona from The Hangover movies, and adding a bit of torturedness that gives his character Pat believable anger management issues and baggage, but at the same time makes him someone you want to see work through his issues. While Cooper dances the line between angry and emotional pretty well, he’s getting a lot of help from those around him; help that makes his performance that much more believable and buyable.


Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence and becomes Pat’s new love interest, has a few issues of her own. Her hang ups stem from depression from the death of her husband which make her lash out by being with guys who don’t treat her well, thereby reinforcing a downward spiral. In Pat’s first few encounters with Tiffany, Lawrence plays the psycho girlfriend card pretty well and we don’t know if she truly is damaged or just plain crazy. However as the relationship between Tiffany and Pat develops, you begin to see her feelings come through and her outbursts slowly change from “crazy girl” territory to that of someone being upset with a person they genuinely have feelings for.


Rounding out the acting trifecta is Robert De Niro. Now don’t get me wrong, we know he can give a great performance; as of late though it seems like he’s been chewing on scenery and just taking paydays (we’re looking at you New Year’s Eve). But in Silver Linings Playbook, director David O. Russell manages to get a great performance from the two time Oscar winner. De Niro plays Pat Sr, father to Cooper’s character in the film, and a devout Philadelphia Eagles fan. When it comes time for game day, Pat Sr’s neurotic quirks regarding fandom and bonding with his son soon goes beyond mere team support and sheds light on not just Pat Jr’s problems, but the entire family’s as well. De Niro plays the loving father/OCD super fan really well and is actually emoting in some of the better scenes.

Going in I wasn’t too sure how I was going to feel about Pat’s budding relationship with Tiffany (something that the entire film hinges on); one because I’ve never really gotten behind or really rooted for any of the characters Bradley Cooper has played in the past; and two because of the age difference between Cooper and Lawrence (15 years, though in the film he’s playing younger and she’s playing older). However, over the course of the film I was really sold on Pat’s struggle with his bipolar disorder. From the challenges Pat faced and the way he dealt with them, that’s what sold me on their relationship in the end–it was a challenge that he kept working on, that wasn’t easy and tested him along the way, and one that you could get a good sense of from the emotion he was portraying.

Overall, everything about Silver Linings Playbook feels just a little bit awkward and a little bit off, not in a bad way, but in a way that mirrors its main characters. You won’t be blown away by action or special effects, because there are none to be found. What you will find is a great modern day family film, well acted, and with a great mix of comedy and drama that will entertain. And really, isn’t that all we could ever ask from any holiday film?

Silver Linings Playbook is currently playing at Consolidated Kahala 8 and Regal Dole Cannery.

Rating 4/5 stars // R // 2hr 2min


HIFF 2012: Must See Preview

Well, it’s that time of year again . . . time for the Hawaii International Film Festival. While we haven’t been as active as we’ve been in the past in the days leading up to the festival, this year we will be busier than ever trying to cover it while it is going on. In fact, with the festival kicking off tonight; we’d be remiss if we didn’t throw out our own two cents on some of the stuff we’d like to see as well as make a few notes on other stuff you might want to check out. So here it is, with the festival unspooling just hours away, I give you the Red Band Project’s HIFF 32 Must See Preview!

#1 Silver Linings Playbook

Trailer // HIFF Page // Official Site

Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet – and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.

Why I Want to See It:
Before all the hype, before it won the audience award at TIFF, and before it debuted in Toronto last month; the trailer for David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook was released early this summer. The trailer showcased Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss from The Hunger Games) and Bradley Cooper (that guy from The Hangover movies) in a dramedy of sorts and it looked to be a pretty fun film. I was definitely feeling what the trailer was selling me about the film, but absolutely sold me on it wasn’t that this film was from the dude that gave us The Fighter or the two big leads . . . it was Chris Tucker. Yes, the dude that played Smokey in Friday and made fun of Jackie Chan in the Rush Hour movies, he’s in this movie. After having a great run in the late 90s the dude just dropped off the Hollywood map–until now. I’m not sure how much of a supporting role he has in this film, but it definitely looks like he has a bit more serious role in Silver Linings; which I think could signal his comeback. The fact that this movie tore it up at Toronto and won the audience award only got me more excited to see it and I can’t wait!

#2 The Sessions

Trailer // HIFF Page // Official Site

Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California–based journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, THE SESSIONS tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined – at age 38 – to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality.

Why I Want to See It:
There were two films that generated a ton of buzz at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. One of them was Beasts of the Southern Wild (which I wasn’t all that over the moon for). The other was The Sessions. The premise itself is funny enough, but with a pretty stacked cast (John Hawkes as the lead with Helen Hunt, William H. Macey, and Moon Bloodgood) and being picked up after a heavy bidding war; I’m hoping that where there’s smoke there’s fire. More so than with Beasts. The movie has a comedic drama angle to it so I think it’ll definitely be more accessible to a wider audience. Word is that Hawkes could have another potential Oscar nominated role on his hands with the film. With all of this swirling about, it’s definitely a no brainer for me wanting to check out.

#3 Holy Motors

Trailer // HIFF Page // Official Site

From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man… He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part – but where are the cameras? Monsieur Oscar is alone, accompanied only by Céline, the slender blonde woman behind the wheel of the vast engine that transports him through and around Paris. He’s like a conscientious assassin moving from hit to hit. In pursuit of the beautiful gesture, the mysterious driving force, the women and the ghosts of past lives. But where is his true home, his family, his rest?

Why I Want to See It:
I still don’t exactly know what it is about Holy Motors that intrigues me, but there’s enough going on there that I want to see the film to find out what it is. I saw the trailer shortly after the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May and at the time I wasn’t too impressed. As the film has played the festival circuit it has garnered somewhat mixed reviews; though more of them have been on the favorable side. What sold me on seeing the film is that it won the critic’s award at this year’s Fantastic Fest (the largest genre film festival in the world) just a week ago. With a lot of fanboy journalists/bloggers behind it how can I go wrong?

#4 Rust & Bone

Trailer // HIFF Page // Official Site

Ali, a man of formidable size and strength, gets a job as a bouncer in a nightclub. He comes to the aid of Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) during a nightclub brawl. Aloof and beautiful, Stephanie seems unattainable, but in his frank manner Ali leaves her his phone number anyway. Stephanie trains orca whales at Marineland. When a performance ends in tragedy, a call in the night again brings them together. When Ali sees her next, Stephanie is confined to a wheel chair : she has lost her legs and quite a few illusions. Ali’s direct, unpitying physicality becomes Stephanie’s lifeline, but Ali, too, is transformed by Stephanie’s tough resilience. And Stephanie comes alive again. As their stories intersect and diverge, they navigate a world where strength, beauty, youth and blood are commodities— but where trust, truth, loyalty and love cannot be bought and sold, and courage comes in many forms.

Why I Want to See It:
The film original got on my radar after it got some pretty good buzz coming off of its premiere at Cannes. What got my attention though were the two leads, Marion Cotillard of course most us may know her from The Dark Knight Rises, but also Matthias Schoenaerts; who broke onto the scene in last year’s Oscar nominated film Bullhead. Together these two seem to have some strong chemistry and I’m itching to see how it all plays out. The setup for the film seems tailor made for tragedy and I think it’ll definitely showcase their acting talents.

#5 Hang Loose

Trailer // HIFF Page // Official Site

HANG LOOSE turns on the manic vs. medium cool performances of actors Dante Basco (THE DEBUT, Festival 2000) and Kevin Wu (aka KevJumba), here playing slightly dialed-up versions of themselves. Wu is newly-single Kevin who, having been dumped by his longtime girlfriend the week he graduates from high school, flies out to Hawaii to attend his big sister’s wedding. Upon his arrival into Honolulu, he meets his future brother-in-law Dante (Basco) and his crazy groomsmen Ben (Benjamin Arthur) and Dion (Dion Basco). Clearly out of his element, Kevin lets himself get talked into tagging along for Dante’s bachelor party, a soiree that quickly goes wrong in so many ways

Why I Want to See It:
Hang Loose is directed by Ryan Kawamoto and produced by James Sereno . . . two of the guys behind Kinetic Productions and who’s feature arm (Kinetic Films) made last year’s Paradise Broken (One of the best films that I saw at HIFF last year). After watching Paradise Broken and their anthology series 6B I am sold on anything these guys do and I’m definitely looking forward to their lighter comedic offering in this year’s Hang Loose.

Other Films of Note

This preview wouldn’t be complete without us tossing out a few more recommendations on cool and interesting things that you could possibly check out at this year’s festival. Here are a few things for the high and/or family minded . . .

Potential Oscar Candidates

The word “international” in Hawaii International Film Festival is there for a reason . . . the festival is showcasing some of the best films from around the world. Seven films playing at this year’s festival have been submitted by their respective countries as their entry to potentially become nominated in the Foreign Language Film category . . . aka The Oscars. Though a crowded field to be sure, you might be able to get a jump on your Oscar ballot by checking out these films:

  • A Royal Affair (Denmark)
  • Barbara (Germany)
  • Barfi! (India)
  • Caesar Must Die (Italy)
  • Bwakaw (Phillipines)
  • Beyond the Hills (Romania)
  • Sister (Switzerland)

Studio Ghibli Retrospective

Though I came late to the party on the Hayao Miyazaki bandwagon (the first film that I saw was Princess Mononoke), once I was on board . . . I was on board. The Studio Ghibli Retrospective has been touring the country for the past year and now it makes a stop right here in Hawaii for HIFF. It’s definitely a great opportunity for you to catch up on some of these classics, or if you’re like me, see them for the first time in a theater with other like-minded people. The highlight of the retrospective will definitely be this weekend when HIFF, in conjunction with Our Kaka‘ako, present Spirited Away on Saturday night under the stars at the Kaka‘ako Gateway Park. There’s going to be food trucks, cosplay contest, and should be a lot of fun for the entire family.

Are you going to be checking out HIFF this year? If you are, let us know in the comments and tell us what films you’re interested in seeing.

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