Saturday, June 26, 2004

The Notebook, Super Size Me

THE NOTEBOOK: A genuine love story, one with amazingly touching moments, and a tragic scenario unlike any other. The ROMEO AND JULIET model is, in a way, followed here--the rich family doesn't approve of the blue-collar new beau, etc. The story is being told by James Garner to Gena Rowlands, and we don't know at first whether or not they are the couple in the story. We do know that Gena Rowlands' character suffers from some sort of dementia where she has lost her memory (they never say Alzheimer's). The couple in the story is Noah (portrayed by the awesome Ryan Gosling, who made MURDER BY NUMBERS way more tolerable than it ever had the right to be and earned stellar reviews in a movie I still haven't seen, THE BELIEVER) and Allie (the little-known Rachel McAdams, who just played the chief "plastic" in MEAN GIRLS and was the alter ego of Rob Schneider in THE HOT CHICK) who have a very real, hot-blooded romance that is eventually interrupted by Allie's parents, and other looming factors like college and World War II. Allie meets another man (James Marsden) and before a wedding takes place, thoughts of Noah resurface in a photograph. Do they get together? Is the old couple in the assisted-living home the same, is one of them there? Well, the surprises are few, but the emotional climax of the film is something I probably won't forget. Directed by Nick Cassevetes, whose main contribution as a director seems to be in performance, in which Gosling and McAdams soar, and it's doubly proven when Garner has a most incredible dramatic scene with Rowlands, a devastating one that will split you in half. Good stuff, I really don't know why it's gotten a couple of lukewarm reviews (C+ by Entertainment Weekly).

SUPER SIZE ME: Morgan Spurlock embarks on the McDonald's diet, eating 3 meals a day for 30 days at McDonald's, and surrounded by this, the cultural demons involved and a look into general health. Spurlock raids the school system, advertising, and numerous health experts to hand us the evidence we all knew but needed to have hammered in: fast food is bad for you. OK, so it's a more entertaining documentary than that. Spurlock is an endearing subject, funny, and able to be cared about as his health starts to take a dive. It's got all sorts of "shocking" (shocking is in quotes, because it's not really that shocking, but I will say that the sheer sight of all the sugar he consumed in the month, stacked in a huge bowl, is mesmerizing) evidence to drive its point home. It's a fun documentary, a light science project where you know what the answer is going to be before you do it, but you do it anyway because it's fun (Fun with volcanoes!). I thought a couple of times Spurlock was putting on a little bit of a show where his health was concerned, not to water his message down or anything, but it seemed tacked on to provide some sort of drama to the whole thing. All-in-all, a decent documentary with the ability to change or shape some way that you think, which is what I believe the point of documentaries are.


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