Short Reviews: Letters to Juliet, A Town Called Panic

Letters to Juliet | Gary Winick, 2010

The romantic comedy sub-genre is in such a poor stage, that when a movie barely surpasses the low standards set by others of it’s kind, it feel like a breath of fresh air. That’s a shame because it gives the wrong message to the studios and filmmakers, that they should keep doing what they are doing because the money will keep coming anyways. Anyways…

Letters to Juliet has a clever concept: Sophie (Amaday Seyfried) is in Italy with her fiancé (Gael Garcia Bernal), but he is more interested in the food industry of the country since he is about to open a restaurant in New Work in a few weeks (how can you take your chef boyfriend to Italy and not expect him to be more interested in the food than sight seeing, especially on the eve of the opening of his restaurant. So, she sightsees by her self and comes across the house of Shakespeare’s Juliet’s house, where women with love problems write to Juliete, and eventually “Juliet’s secretaries” write back. So, she joins the secretaries, then finds a 50 year old letter and decides to write back. The recipient  is Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), an English woman who decides to look for her true love after reading the letter. Along for the ride is her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan), your typical romantic comedy asshole with a heart of gold. And so, Sophie joins them in looking for Claire’s true love, and along the way she may realize that her fiancé is not the one.

If you’ve seen the trailer, then you have pretty much seen the movie. I won’t spoil it here, but if you want to save some money, watch the trailer. However, there are some funny parts in the movie that you’d be missing, along with the beautiful vistas of Italy, and Redgrave’s performance. I would analyze each aspect of the movie, but it’s just not worth it. It’s not the worst romantic comedy, but it just isn’t up the standard of even some of the best of the last few years.

Panique au village | Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, 2009

Remember when you used to play with your toys when you were a kid (wether it was with plastic soldiers, action figures of your favorite movies, or Barbies) and you used to come up with the crazies scenarios, yet it all made sense in your mind? Yes, well, this movie is just that, which is why it is so good

Here we have a town where pretty much everything happens. We have a horse, a cowboy, and an indian who live it the same house. The horse is like the voice of reason, and the other two are like Terrence and Phillip from “South Park”, minus the farts. It’s Horse’s birthday, and his friends want to build him a babrque out of bricks, so they have to order 50, but instead they order 50 million. So, they make the barbeque, and then hide the rest on top of their house. So, the house is destroyed, and then they start to build it again. But since they have to rest for the night, the find out that someone is stealing their walls. The search for the culprits lead them to a cave inhabited by an angry bear, the center of the earth, the artic, with a bunch of crazy scientists, and the bottom of the ocean.

This story is told through the only medium it could have been possible: stop-motion animation. Each character does indeed look like a cheap plastic toy, their village looks like one you could build easily with some cardboard and patience, and their movements are not as refined as, say, Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or even the Ray Harry Housen movies. But that works perfectly here. It’s just such a lovely movie, that I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for you.

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