They Came Together
They Came Together. Clever title, right? In this romantic comedy starring the eternally boyish Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, AKA the Goldie Hawn for the new millennium, a lot of the humor derives from knowing, satirical references to the conventions of romantic comedies. This might be a new way to go about making these films, as romantic comedy conventions have gotten so overused that they have pretty much become self-parodies. How many more times can we watch two perfectly matched people “meet cute” in some delightful urban setting? How many more times can we watch the female part of the equation get embarrassed and/or humiliated in front of her male counterpart, leading her to freak out to her female confidant? How many more times can we watch the male part of the equation take terrible advice from his buddies that will lead to further bumps along the road to happily ever after? In They Came Together, the filmmakers refresh these conventions by giving a knowing wink, and go right ahead and use them anyway.
Yves Saint Laurent
It’s a French biopic, and maybe the longest clothing advertisement ever presented. Yves Saint Laurent tells the story of the young fashion genius who, having suffered the humiliating loss of his position at the prestigious house of Christian Dior, sets out to start his own company. Saint Laurent’s signature innovation, beyond his trendsetting clothes, was his bold movement into the ready-to-wear market—a move that changed fashion forever. He was, of course, wildly successful, becoming a household name from the mid-60s on. The film seems to have been produced with the great encouragement of the continuing Yves Saint Laurent company (Saint Laurent himself died in 2008), with the film retaining the symbols and trademark character fonts of the brand.
A romantic comedy set in the music world. Hollywood has never been very good at giving accurate portrayals of musicians or the music business—maybe because the people who make movies can’t believe how haphazard the music business really is. Moviemakers must imagine that the kinds of lavish planning, preparation and investment that attend even low-budget film productions have their equivalents in music, and it’s just never been the case. Instead, record companies survive by swooping in and make a profit after all of the hard work is done. Anyway, Begin Again fantasizes a college couple, Dave and Gretta (Adam Levine and Keira Knightley), who are also a songwriting team. Dave lands a deal with a major label (right!) and is soon making poor choices, and so Gretta returns to playing in clubs (right!), where she meets disgraced record-label executive (right!) Dan (Mark Ruffalo). He likes Gretta’s “raw” sound, and the rest is history. Right!