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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Better than 50/50

The older I get the more difficulty I have hitting the town on a Friday night.  The work week proves to be more exhausting after each passing day.  When Friday comes around the lure of an easy chair and 8pm bedtime is not altogether unattractive.   What to do when your only child has a Friday evening sleepover party???  

Man the eff up that's what.

Big fancy dinner at one of our  favorite places, Il Mondo Vecchio (  followed by a screening of the Seth Rogen/Joseph Gordon- Levitt vehicle 50/50 (  When you have a built in babysitter for the price of a birthday gift you MUST take advantage.  

Overall, a very rewarding evening.  The film may be the biggest surprise of all.  A few weeks after it's release I had a pretty good sense of what to expect.  Many critics had a problem with the title more than the content itself.  I admit, the title has issues.  I understand why "I'm with Cancer" (the working title) might offend and/or alienate viewers.  Problem is there are teams of employees who's job it is to attract viewers.  They spends thousands of dollars marketing and pre-screening.  They listen to focus groups and gauge viewer feedback.  

50/50 fails to convey the film's message.  And if that is the only real issue I have with the movie, I think all is good.

Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a 27 year old public radio worker diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  Rogen is Kyle, his goofy but loyal friend.  Based loosely on Rogen's own experience with a friend suffering the same affliction, 50/50 charming, funny and heart warming.

Rogen and Gordon-Levitt have a nice rapport on screen.  The ubiquitous hair shaving scene is particularly effective.  As a whole there is a deft handling of the battles that are waged with the heinous disease.  

What if the young patient does not drive?  How now can he or she get back and forth to treatment?

What to do of your over-protective mother (an incredible Anjelica Houston)?  

How about the very new relationship you are having with an overwhelmed girl? (a superb and beautiful Bryce Dallas Howard...  Opie's daughter is downright sexy and an incredible force on screen.)  This can't end well can it?  

Throw in a relationship with your dissertation writing therapist (Anna Kendrick) for some more drama.  Also, we sneak into the relationships built with fellow chemo patients (the always terrific Philip Baker Hall and Max Headroom himself, Matt Frewer.)

Finally, the buddy film that acts as the films' nervous system.  Does you best friend really care about you?  Does he understand the magnitude of the situation?  Is he using you for his own selfish reasons???

Most of these themes present themselves to a 20 something anyway.  What will my future hold?  Will I have deep, meaningful relationships?  What is it all about?

And, as we all struggle to think "half-full" and remain optimistic, life continues to throw us off-speed sliders in the dirt.  Occasionally we are brushed back with a high fastball.  Each day a new and different challenge awaits.  Our objective is to face the fear and ultimately conquer.

50/50 understands these challenges and gets us to laugh about it.   Will Reiser (writer) and Jonathan Levine (director) deserve much credit for keeping things moving very well and wasting little time.  In a year where editors seem to have moved to "Occupy Wall St" rather than editing films it was refreshing to see a 90 minute movie.   Special credit to music supervisor Jim Black too.  Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Bee-Gee's and a wonderful track by Liars "The Other Side of Mt Heart Attack"  

I could take some issue with Kendrick (her performance is WAY too similar to her own performance in Up in the Air.)  That may have as much to do with how good Howard is.  Bryce made Emma Stone look awful in The Help and once again upstages the other actress.  There are also some issues with a developing romance.  Neither of those minor problems take away from a strong and funny weekend movie excursion.  

Other note:

The band I have been touting all year, Caveman (, are playing several free shows around NYC next week.  It is showcase week and their debut album, CoCo Beware, is out for hard copy release next month.  Again, I urge you to download if you can.  Better yet, should you be in and around NYC next week please try and catch their 45 minute set.  More info can be found here:   

I am shooting for Wednesday and Saturday.  

Thursday, the 20th, there are still tickets available for a nice triple bill at Terminal 5 in NYC.  Alberta Cross, Givers and Porutgal, the Man will be performing.  My tickets are secured and I am most certain this will be a very nice night of music.  For more info:   By no means my favorite venue but the bands are more than worthy.

Finally, Wednesday I am shooting for an "Occupy Wall St" visit.  Anybody have any questions for the protestors?  Anyone want to join?  

Glorious day in the Northeast and more evidence why autumn is the best of seasons!!  Hope you all enjoy.

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