Monday, February 01, 2010

532 - You Aught to Know - 30-31

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Judd Apatow, 2005, 22 points

The 40-Year-Old Virgin renewed my faith in film comedy. For years I'd laugh longer and louder at the small screen, usually courtesy of Jerry, George and the rest of the Seinfeld gang. But film comedy remained a sore spot for me. And even when a film made me laugh I had to settle for a whimper of an ending, a 20 minute finale which wrapped up the story elements but neglected to maintain the humor.

Virgin changed all that. Writer/director Judd Apatow perfected the coarse but morally clean comedy formula, stuffing his first feature with a dizzying array of talent.

Steve Carell anchored the film and made this Virgin both believable and sweet. But let's not forget Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jane Lynch. Elizabeth Banks. Jonah Hill and Leslie Mann - all bona fide comic players woven expertly into the story. The only actor who should be a star by now, but isn't, Romany Malco, will probably break through soon enough.

Virgin works because you can watch it over and again and laugh at new scenes, new throwaway lines you somehow missed the first half dozen times. And rather than deliver a pedestrian finale, the film finds humor in a romantic chase sequence bringing the two lovers together at last.

But what cinches Virgin as the comedy of the decade is the film's final moments, a go for broke musical number from "Hair" which leaves us on a sugar-style high that lasts for hours.

The film also deserves credit for launching the Judd Apatow Machine, which gave us Superbad and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, two standout comedies that would rank among the decade's best if not for Virgin and another comic tale of a crazed reporter from Kazakhstan. - Christian Toto

The New World, Terrence Malick, 2005, 22 points

So many films have treated the natural segue from youthful idealism to the long-haul pragmatism of adulthood as a tragedy that it’s sort of amazing to see a movie that treats it as a simple fact of life. The marvel of The New World is twofold- that master director Terrence Malick sets this transition in the life of Pocahontas (played wonderfully by Q’Orianka Kilcher) against the backdrop of a land about to make the same leap, and that it does so without ever once insisting upon the point. Yet there’s so much more to love about The New World- the completeness with which its world is imagined (Jack Fisk’s magnificently hewn sets are breathtaking), the breathtaking cinematography (courtesy of Emmanuel Lubezki), and above all, the directorial command that Malick brings to the tale. And to think he’s already got another film on the way! - Paul Clark

Previously on You Aught to Know: Christian Toto

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