THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1961)

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Christopher

I saw this movie once in high school and it really stayed with me because I have always placed it in one of the best western movies I have seen. I had been trying to get Elizabeth to watch this for some time, because it’s on Netflix, but she never seemed interested but once we saw that the Drafthouse was playing it we had to go. (A quick note on seeing this at The Ritz: The ticket was listed for $10 each. I bought two with two Groupons I had, so I got a $20 value for $10. BUT this screening also came with a flight of whiskey and the tickets were supposed to be listed for $25. But since the Drafthouse messed up on the price we got a $50 value for $10 and a shit ton of whiskey!)

I love this film because of all the characters and how they interact with each other. You have John Wayne, who’s a local cowboy/hero of sorts, you have Jimmy Stewart who is a lawyer and not one to carry a gun, and you have Lee Marvin, who is a murderer. This movie is great and if you have never seen it please check it out!

Elizabeth

Okay, I really need to talk about something for a second before I really get into The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which I loved. This might not seem that important, but it is.

So. Lee Van Cleef. Now, he was not someone that really showed up on my radar pre-Chris, because I hadn’t really seen him in much before. But now I have seen him. And after The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, I can now conclude (with full support from Chris), that Lee Van Cleef WAS TOTALLY FUCKING SEXY. Now, this slipped past me a little bit, because if I’m totally honest, Lee Van Cleef also sort of looks like a rat. So how do I find this slightly rat-like, often-a-bad-guy sexy? I don’t know. I do not know. He is just so masculine. Oh my god. It really hit me in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance because in the first scene in which Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) and his gang (which includes Lee Van Cleef) are seen without masks, it’s in a crowded restaurant and everyone stands up. And even though Lee Van Cleef barely had any lines and wasn’t a main character, my eyes went straight to him. He just totally commands the room without doing a goddamn thing. That’s a fairly rare quality, I think.

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way I can talk about how I think The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is awesome, and particularly awesome for a Western. I’ve usually stayed away from Westerns because they can get pretty redundant and are usually about two-dimensional male characters, which just gets old. But even though this movie is directed by John Ford and stars John Wayne, it somehow is not the stereotypical Western. And because of that, this was by far the best thing I’ve seen John Wayne in. Even though he saunters around and seriously says “Pilgrim” like a hundred times, he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously and acts as a perfect foil to Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart), who is at times comically serious.

I think it’s really the triangle between Tom Doniphon (Wayne), Stoddard, and Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) that makes this movie so strong. Like I said, Tom Doniphon is this old Western-y character, but is also sort of goofy and pretty respectful of everyone around him (unless you’re a murderer). Stoddard is a lawyer who believes in the law so firmly that he clearly doesn’t understand just how lawless the west is. And then there’s Valance, who is SCARY. So many times I find Western villains not to be scary, because we mostly hear about how bad they are, like in High Noon. But the first time we see Valance and his gang, he nearly beats Stoddard to death . . . WITH A WHIP. Uhhhh so that’s scary. We see a newspaper article on how Valance and his gang beat to death a father and son, while the wife/mother “watched helplessly” (aka was raped, I’m sure). They shoot down innocent people, on camera, for no reason. They beat (almost to death) multiple characters, for no reason. It reallyyyy drove home this idea that law doesn’t matter there, and helps support the subplot of Stoddard’s blossoming political career, which eventually brings law and order to the town.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is great. Watch it if you don’t like Westerns (like me). Watch it if you don’t like John Wayne (like me). IT’S SO WORTH IT.

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WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)

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Elizabeth

I hadn’t seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in a really long time, and I didn’t have much of a desire to watch it again for a long time. I just thought of the movie as being very stressful. But it’s one of Chris’ favorites, and he insisted that it’s much funnier when you watch it as an adult. And it’s so true!

I guess it’s weird to compare Willy Wonka to A Clockwork Orange, but that was another movie that’s really funny that took a few viewings for any of the humor to come out for me (albeit for much, much, much different reasons). Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is so funny because Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) is so funny. Wonka is a weird character, because it’s like he loves and hates children. This was a feeling I personally very much identified with. And this movie really does a good job of creating its own world, so it doesn’t feel weird that this candy shop owner is singing to a bunch of kids, or the whole world is going ape shit over this contest, or that Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) can suddenly walk and dance after being bedridden for years. You just kind of go with it. It’s sort of refreshing.

But yeah, it’s still stressful, and I definitely understand my kid-self feeling overwhelmed by it. The scene that comes to mind the most is near the end, when Charlie (Peter Ostrum) and Grandpa confront Wonka about what happens at the end of their tour and Wonka freaks out at them for drinking the Fizzy Lifting Drink. As a kid, being yelled at was one of my greatest fears (and probably the greatest fears in the category of Things That Can and Probably Will Happen At Some Point), and being yelled at by someone I care about, like my mom or a teacher I liked, was THE WORST. Flash forward to 26 year old me now, aaaaand it’s pretty much the same thing. I’m not really at risk of being yelled at by my mom anymore, thanks to adulthood, but the thought of someone I care about yelling at me still really freaks me out. So, from a film point of few, I like how powerful that scene is. It hurts when Wonka yells at Charlie. But, personally, it’s still one of my least favorite movie scenes to watch.

If you haven’t revisited Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in a while, I highly recommend it.

Christopher

I’ve said before that I believe The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is my favorite movie but this is a very close second. I have so many childhood memories of watching this film. I remember multiple Halloweens as a kid where I dressed up as Charlie Bucket, I remember watching this movie everyday for a week in high school, just because I wanted to remember more lines, and I remember buying this soundtrack at Borders Books just because I wanted to listen to the music while I drove around Vienna, VA. This movie is great!

What I love the most about this film is how I actually like it more and more as I get older. I think this movie is so funny with its dark humor. I love how it makes kids look awful and reminds me that I never want my own. I also love, and this might be a negative Elizabeth talks about, when he yells at Charlie and Grandpa Joe at the end of the film. Whenever Gene Wilder yells, it’s beautiful. Like in the boat scene, when he is singing the poem, his voice keeps getting higher and higher until he’s basically just screaming.

Now, the worst part of this movie is probably the scene where the mom sings to Charlie, but I also love singing that song to people when they complain because I think it’s funny. I know people in general don’t like the movie before he goes into the factory but I think some of my favorite moments are in this section. Once, when I was a kid, I tried watching this with a bunch of people and they wanted to skip to the factory; I don’t remember if we did or not but I remember being pissed off that everyone didn’t understand this movie like I did haha. But speaking of great moments before they go into the factory; Charlie Bucket’s teacher is one of the funniest characters in the film, I love the weird poem the knife guys recites to Charlie, and I always thought that the cabbage soup they eat at Charlie’s house looked good, I never really understood why they didn’t want that as a kid.

Inside the factory I always wanted a snozberry, I always wanted that buttercup drink that Wonka drinks then eats, and I always wanted to know what Hair Cream was exactly. This movie has so much in it; basically every line is funny and when it’s not I just find it very interesting. I love this movie and even though I can’t imagine how many times I have seen it, I hope I quadruple that by the time I die.

AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Picture (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon – Producers)
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Christian Bale)
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role (Amy Adams)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Bradley Cooper)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Lawrence)
  • Best Film Editing (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten)
  • Best Costume Design (Michael Wilkinson)
  • Best Production Design (Judy Becker – Production Design; Heather Loeffler – Set Decoration)
  • Best Director (David O. Russell)
  • Best Original Screenplay (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell)

Christopher

The best parts of this film are Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence. I kind of wish it was just about them because I didn’t find this story to be particularly compelling. This is the kind of movie where there is a kind of reveal at the end but I’m not sure if it’s really a surprise because you see it coming from the very beginning. I thought this movie started off stronger than it ended. I’m really not a David O. Russell fan in the first place and I really wanted to like this but I just find everything he does to be so boring. I can barely sit through anything he does and it’s not really because I’m completely uninterested in the subject, I just think he’s a poor director.

I did like this better than Silver Linings Playbook though, but I wouldn’t watch it again.

Elizabeth

The fact that America’s “A Horse With No Name” played in probably the first 15 minutes of American Hustle really should have told me everything I needed to know about how I would feel about the movie. Because, you might not know this about me, but I happen to think that song is maybe the worst song ever created by man.

So, while American Hustle was substantially better than the train wreck that was Silver Linings Playbook, I still just didn’t really like it. And despite SLP, I wanted to like American Hustle. I love Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. And they were all great in it. But to me, their performances really weren’t enough to make the movie completely worthwhile.

I’m going to take a controversial stance and say what I’ve thought for a long time: that Amy Adams is actually not that great of an actress. I’m not saying she’s bad. I thought she was very good in The Master. But I think that’s mostly because her character in that is supposed to be pretty stiff and calculating, and I think that’s how she comes off in every movie. All during American Hustle I just kept thinking that she was acting, which isn’t really a great characteristic. Also, I just don’t think she’s sexy. Which I never cared about or thought twice about until this movie, when she’s supposed to be ultra sexy. Amy Adams is gorgeous and can be very cute, but sexy? Especially not compared to Jennifer Lawrence.

So I guess the biggest problem I had with American Hustle is I didn’t really understand the point of anything anyone did. Irving (Christian Bale) and his girlfriend Sydney (Amy Adams) are con artists that promise loans to people, but take their money instead. They end up getting caught in the act by Richie (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent. In exchange for their immunity, Richie has Irving and Sydney teach him about cons so that the FBI will be better able to catch con artists. Aaaaand this is where the movie lost me. They end up targeting Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), a New Jersey mayor that is genuine and beloved by everyone. They basically entrap him, as far as I could gather. I couldn’t understand why they went after Polito in the first place. Why go after a good politician, rather than criminals or at least corrupt politicians? They do end up nabbing corrupt politicians, but at the expense of Polito. There’s also messiness with Richie and Sydney, as Sydney has somehow hidden her real identity from the FBI and is pretending to be British. WHY? I just didn’t get the point.

The best parts of American Hustle were, by far, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence. Christian Bale was not the Christian Bale that I swooned over as a kid here: he was fat, hairy, and had a bad comb-over. But he was so great. Irving goes through most of the movie annoyed at everyone else not listening to him, even though he’s basically the only one who really knows what he’s doing. I loved seeing him get pissed off at Richie, who was basically insane. Even though I don’t really like Bradley Cooper, I did like his character because it felt like he was playing a similar character to the one in SLP, except this time it’s not just Chris and me who think he’s a total joke, it’s all the characters in the movie, too! And man, Jennifer Lawrence was great. I’m not sure it was exactly an Oscar-worthy performance, especially compared to someone like June Squibb, but she was great as Rosalyn, Irving’s possible insane wife. I really just enjoyed how genuine Irving was, which is weird to say about a character who’s a con artist. But he obviously truly loved Sydney, and truly cared about Rosalyn and her son, whom he adopted. He was sensitive and funny, which was nice to see in a movie like this.

I don’t want to say don’t see American Hustle because I feel like I’m in the minority of not really liking it. And it’s always worth seeing Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence in pretty much anything. Buuuuut . . . there’s better stuff out there.

LIVE ACTION SHORTS 2014

We went to a screening of all the Oscar nominated live action short films. Here they are:

HELIUM – 2014

Helium

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson)

Elizabeth

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis mooooooooooooooooooovie. It’s about a dying kid. COOL! Now, Helium was not poorly made or poorly acted or anything. In fact, it was well-made and well-acted. But why does this story need to be told? It doesn’t. It’s about a kid dying of a terminal illness and the hospital worker who tells him the story of Helium, a place that is like heaven, but not, somehow. Yeah, I was weeping by the end of this. But I wasn’t happy about it. This movie is too easy, because of course you’re going to get emotion when you have a cute kid dying. Ugh. HATED THIS.

Christopher

Boring and cheap. It’s about a kid dying and a guy just telling him about Helium, which is basically heaven.

THE VOORMAN PROBLEM – 2012

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Mark Gill and Baldwin Li)

Elizabeth

I liked the idea behind The Voorman Problem but I think it actually suffered from being a short film rather than feature length. It reminded me a bit of La Moustache but less depressing. I feel like this short would make a good TV series, but it definitely ended with me feeling like I didn’t get everything out of it that I should.

Christopher

This was really really interesting but I don’t think it pulled it off. To spoil it; It’s about a psychiatrist going to a prison to declare that a specific prisoner is insane. You are told that the inmate is a god and that the inmates are his followers. So what basically happens is that the inmate is God, he proves this by erasing some country from ever existing. But at the very end God switches roles with the psychiatrist. He says, I will be you and walk out of here free, and you will be me, controller of everything. And he does this. But wouldn’t that mean that the psychiatrist/protagonist can do whatever the fuck he wants? Cause he’s GOD? It was cool but the end just didn’t really make sense.

AVANT QUE DE TOUT PERDRE [JUST BEFORE LOSING EVERYTHING] – 2013

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras)

Elizabeth

This one was definitely one of my favorites. At first I wasn’t sure how I liked it because it sort of took me a while to get a handle on what was going on, which isn’t usually a great thing for a short film. But it’s really just because Just Before Losing Everything gets right into it, doesn’t bother with intros, just sort of has you figure it out as it happens. And because it’s about a mother trying to escape her abusive husband with their children, the way the story is told makes it all the more pressing. Léa Drucker, as the mother/wife, was really awesome and seemed so realistic in her reactions. This short is definitely worth seeing.

Christopher

I really enjoyed this short. I would say it was my second favorite. The subject, a mom/wife and her two kids are trying to escape her abusive husband, was interesting and I was invested and engaged the whole thirty minutes. I would not be upset if this won. Check this out if you get the chance!

AQUEL NO ERA YO [THAT WASN’T ME] – 2012

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Esteban Crespo)

Elizabeth

Yeah, fuck this movie, too. Child soldiers, murder, rape. NO. THANKS.

Christopher

This was similar to Helium where it just felt like it was made just to be edgy. But everything that happens is obvious, it’s just scary and gross. Asad from last year took this kind of world and created a short that was far more effective.

PITÄÄKÖ MUN KAIKKI HOITAA? [DO I HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING?] – 2012

PITÄÄKÖ-MUN-KAIKKI-HOITAA

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Live Action Short Film (Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari)

Elizabeth

Do I Have To Take Care of Everything? is sort of everything I want in a short film. It fits its length perfectly, it’s funny, it’s sweet, and fun to watch. The very opening is so funny, just seeing this couple sort of messily sleep next to each other. It reminded me of Chris and me. Out of all of the shorts, this is definitely the one that I would recommend to pretty much anyone.

Christopher

I think this was the best short. It was short. It was super funny. It made me feel good and I remembered it the most the next day. Watch this now!

ANIMATED SHORTS 2014

We went to a screening of all the Oscar nominated animated short films. Here they are:

Get A Horse! – 2013

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Animated Short Film (Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim)

Christopher

I really enjoyed this short but I think the downfall to me was the CG color part of the film. I just wasn’t really into the art style. It reminded me too much of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, I think that’s the name of the show. All the characters are just bright and shiny, not as interesting as the black and white drawn style.

Elizabeth

I really liked the idea behind Get A Horse!. It opens with a classic-looking Mickey Mouse cartoon, complete with a small aspect ratio that almost makes it looks like we’re watching through a nickelodeon. The characters break out of the screen, though, and end up on a stage as 3D characters, interacting with the characters inside the screen. While I really liked how they played with different styles of animation and layered them on top of each other, I just wasn’t really into how the 3D characters looked. But overall, it was fun and I liked the idea of old Disney interacting with new Disney.

MR HUBLOT – 2013

hublot

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Animated Short Film (Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares)

Christopher

I thought the animation was impressive but I found the story to be boring. We get that he has some form of OCD and we know that he’s eventually going to get the dog. I mostly found this short boring.

Elizabeth

I think the biggest fault with Mr Hublot for me was there was a lot going on with little time to tell the story. It takes place in a mechanical world, and I’m not sure if Mr. Hublot is an android or what, but he’s definitely endearing and definitely has OCD. He saves a mechanical dog, who grows bigger until Mr. Hublot has to move to accommodate him. It’s a cute story and it looks cool, but I just didn’t really feel a connection to it.

FERAL – 2012

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Animated Short Film (Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden)

Christopher

I really liked the animation style but the story just remind me of The Croods haha. Honestly I think this was one of the better ones ’cause I paid attention the whole time.

Elizabeth

I think Feral was my least favorite of the animated shorts. It wasn’t bad and it wasn’t uninteresting, I just sort of didn’t like it? It was so stylized that I actually found it sort of difficult to pay attention and follow the story. I do think it’s worth seeing because it looks so different, but it just wasn’t really my cup of tea.

POSSESSIONS – 2012

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Animated Short Film (Shuhei Morita)

Christopher

This one was pretty good. The biggest thing I didn’t liked was that the protagonist’s animation made him look like he stepped out of a video game. Other than that I found the story to be interesting and the background animation to be beautiful. I have always been super into Japanese culture and I am currently reading Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki, one of the greatest comic writer and artist I have ever seen, and this short was in the same vein of most of his stories. Focused on an individual but full of Japanese folklore.

Elizabeth

I loved Possessions. The story was interesting and crazy, but it was also just so beautiful. There’s a ton of color and textures, and the way the different objects react with the character and the environment looked real cool. It was also sort of creepy, which I liked, and also not totally tragic, which I loved. If I were to just look at screenshots of all the shorts, I probably would think Possessions would be my least favorite because I really have no interest in anime. And maybe I wouldn’t want to watch a 90 minute version of Possessions, but as a short it was fantastic.

ROOM ON THE BROOM – 2012

Room-on-the-Broom

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Animated Short Film (Max Lang and Jan Lachauer)

Christopher

This was by far the best animated short. The animation was the best and even though the story was simple and basically a kids book come to life, it still had the best story. Watch this if you haven’t!

Elizabeth

Maybe it’s lame of me, but Room on the Broom was my favorite of the animated shorts. I say it’s lame of me because it’s probably the most traditional out of all the shorts, basically telling a cute fairytale. But I loved it! It was cute and funny enough that it wasn’t boring. I loved how it looked; I guess it was claymation? But it all looked very clean and sweet. And I loved that it had cute animals in it, but nothing bad happened to any of them and it wasn’t sad. This is a short I would watch with my 4 year old niece. So sweet!

BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION

  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy)

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I was so excited to see Before Midnight, but also nervous. This is the end of a story that I’ve followed for such a long time and have felt such a connection to. Even though Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are so incredible, I was scared that maybe Before Midnight wouldn’t be what I wanted.

But it was! Before Midnight is just as incredible as the first two, for reasons both different and the same. Like Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, the movie opens focusing on Jesse (Ethan Hawke). Here he’s at a Greek airport with his son, sending him home to the US after spending the summer together. Like the beginning of Before Sunset, I spent the opening trying to determine where Jesse stood with Céline (Julie Delpy). At first I thought they were in Paris, but it makes sense that Before Midnight takes place in different European country, just like the first two. Then I was thinking, surely Jesse and Céline are together because why else would Jesse be in Europe when his son is the US? Then Jesse walks out of the airport and we see Céline waiting for him at a car, which also holds twin girls with the same color hair as Céline’s. So as Jesse and Céline drive back from the airport, we get a bit caught up on the status of their relationship. They’ve been together since Before Sunset and are parents to the twins. While the specific topics of their conversation are different and more mature (Céline considering a new job, talking about the children), the way they talk to each other hasn’t changed since Before SunriseCéline is a bit crass and very passionate, Jesse is calm and an idealist. But even though their conversation has some disagreements, they still talk to each other and look at each other like two people who know each other and love each other completely.

They are staying with friends in Greece, and for a gift their friends offer to watch their daughters and rent them a nearby hotel room so they can have the night alone. Their walk to the hotel is like other Jesse and Céline walks by catching us up a bit on the last 9 years while also telling us more about their current situation. We find out that Jesse did miss his plane from Before Sunset and instead stayed in Paris with Céline and they’ve pretty much been together ever since. They’re not married, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue.

When they get to the hotel, they first start to have sex but are interrupted by Céline getting a phone call from Jesse’s son to tell her he landed safely. When they try to have sex, Jesse undoes Céline’s dress so that she’s topless, the first bit of nudity to come up in any of these movies. That caught me off guard, but I really love that Céline does get topless. Because Before Midnight is the first of the movies to begin with Jesse and Céline as a couple, it makes sense that it would also be the first time we see them be really physical. And I also love that she’s topless because after she gets the phone call, Jesse and Céline have an argument that she stays topless for for a bit. If I had seen this movie as a teenager, I wouldn’t have liked Céline being topless while they argued because I would have thought it was gratuitous and unrealistic. But here it just shows how comfortable they are together, which now seems very realistic.

A good chunk of Before Midnight is Jesse and Céline’s argument in the hotel room, which tends to change topic as often as Jesse and Céline move around the room. Just like in the previous movies, the argument just reveals more about their relationship while further confirming their personalities and love for each other. The argument goes from yelling to calmly discussing and back to yelling. Céline is, as usual, the more passionate one, bringing up feminism and her familiar fear of being a housewife. Jesse is, as usual, the calmer one, trying to be rational and bringing Céline back down to earth. Several times Céline storms out of the room, which Jesse doesn’t react to at all, because a few seconds later she always returns. It just gives the sense that this is how they argue and it’s not that bad. And it just makes sense with their characters. They’re never all that mean and don’t say anything they can’t really take back. The closest to that is Céline telling Jesse that she doesn’t love him anymore and storming out. But Jesse goes to her and reassures her, which makes me think that Jesse is not thrown off by Céline making bold statements like that, because that’s who she is. The movie ends with Jesse and Céline flirting after Jesse tells Céline that they have true love, even though it’s not perfect.

UGH THIS MOVIE IS SO GOOD. I cried at the end, even though it’s not sad and they still end up together. It’s just so good that it compelled me to cry, and especially knowing that the trilogy is really over now. It could not have ended more beautifully.

Christopher

It was sad to see this trilogy end but it ended on such a good note. This movie was far more stressful but I also found this to be the funniest of the three. No matter how intense their fights got in this movie, there was always a point where they were just talking to each other. They always came back to a point where they were comfortable with each other. It’s so beautiful! I also love that a good amount of the film takes place in a hotel room, but even though the room is smaller than my apartment, they still had stuff to do. They had wine to open, phones to turn on and off, etc.

I think this might be my second favorite of the three but I still find the first to be the best. I’m sure it’s because that’s the age I’m closest to, but I just felt like that was the movie I could most relate to. Watch all of these right now, if you have not seen them!

BEFORE SUNSET (2004)

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Christopher

I never really thought twice about Ethan Hawke before starting this trilogy but now I think he’s a pretty fantastic actor. This trilogy is so fucking great so far. What I love most is how their dialogue reflects their age. In Before Sunrise they talk a lot about the world, and in this they talk more about their own experiences. I predict that the third one will involve death in some way, even if just a topic of conversation, but I cannot wait to see Before Midnight.

These movies are definitely films I will watch many more times in my life. I’m still disappointed it took me so long to see them but I’m grateful Elizabeth finally made me sit down to watch!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I don’t get it. I don’t get how it’s possible. How can someone make a movie as perfect as Before Sunrise and manage to make a sequel that is just as perfect and sticks to the formula of Before Sunrise without just being a rehashing of it? I don’t know, but it happened, and it’s Before Sunset and it’s amazing.

Part of what makes Before Sunrise so fantastic is how natural it is. Both movies are almost all dialogue, and Before Sunrise does natural dialogue perfectly. Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) seem like strangers when they meet in the beginning and by the end seem like old lovers. Before Sunset does the same thing; the dialogue is so natural that it only feels like a movie in that we know and love these characters from the first movie so well. We find out that while Jesse went back to Vienna six months after the end of Before Sunrise to meet Céline as planned, but she was not there because her grandmother unexpectedly died and she was in Budapest for the funeral. When they meet again, that question is answered pretty quickly, so the audience doesn’t need to wonder any longer after 9 years if it happened.

It’s just so incredible how good Delpy and Hawke are, especially together. When they meet again, there’s that distinct happiness and awkwardness that comes from seeing an old love. Granted, this has never happened to me, but it reminded me of when I would see a boy I had a crush on on the first day of school after not seeing him all summer. Céline and Jesse quickly fall back into their easy conversation, catching each other up on everything. Jesse is married with a child and Céline has a boyfriend. But from the beginning, there’s much more sex or sex-like talk between them than there had been in Before Sunrise. That’s another thing that makes it so realistic. Remember how insane it was to talk about sex before you were having it? In high school I could barely talk about sex, and most certainly not with a male. I couldn’t even talk about it with the guy I was dating, except in code. Then flash forward almost 10 years later and Chris and I easily talked about sex before we even started dating. Céline and Jesse weren’t virgins in Before Sunrise, but they were obviously more inexperienced and nervous. By the time of Before Sunset, they’re in their 30’s, have lived with partners, and Jesse already has a kid. I just loved how subtle that was to show how they and their relationship have grown and aged with time.

Even though they’re both in relationships, as Céline and Jesse walk around Paris it comes up more than once that Jesse wishes Céline had been in Vienna that day, and she implies that she wishes that, too. The deeper into their conversation they go, the more things come out about how they feel for each other. Jesse loves his son more than anything and likes and respects his wife and wants her to be happy, but he knows the marriage is not working and he’s not happy. Céline cares for her boyfriend but doesn’t seem particularly attached, plus he’s a photojournalist and gone all the time. Then they get into a sort of argument, where Jesse admits how unhappy he is and how much he wishes he had the life he thinks he could have had had Céline met him in Vienna. And Céline admits that she feels like she poured all of her love and romantic thoughts into her one night with Jesse and will forever not be happy in love. When Jesse is talking about being unhappy, an amazing thing happens. They’re in a car together, looking at each other and then nervously looking out their windows as the conversation gets deeper. jesse is upset, almost on the verge of tears, and when he looks away out his window, Céline puts her hand up to his head like she wants to touch him, to comfort him, but he looks at her before she can and she puts her hand down. This moment is such a perfect sequel to my favorite moment in Before Sunrise, when they keep nervously looking at each other and then looking away. It’s so great.

Another great thing I loved about this is how much Céline and Jesse try to stall saying goodbye. When they meet up, it’s just to have coffee before Jesse has to catch a plane. But after they have coffee, Jesse suggests that they walk around Paris for a little bit. Then when walking around, they see a tourist boat thing that they get on and Jesse calls his driver to meet him at the boat’s next stop. When they get off the boat and meet the driver, Jesse suggests they drop Céline off at her apartment. When they get to her apartment, Jesse tells the driver he’s walking her to her door. When they get to her door, Jesse asks to come up so she’ll play a song for him, and they do. Every time Jesse suggests something, Céline says something about how he has to catch a flight, but she never pushes it. It just reminded me of the night before Chris’ 25th birthday, which was also the night where we told each other our feelings for the first time. The whole night we were together I was constantly thinking about how I was going to tell him I liked him, but I was too scared, so I kept suggesting we do stuff to stall him from leaving. I’m sure on some level he knew what I was doing, just like Jesse and Céline both know that they’re stalling because they want to be together.

I can’t wait to see Before Midnight. I don’t know where the story will go from here, but I didn’t know where the story would go after Before Sunrise and it ended up being amazing. It’s going to be great.