Tuesday, January 5, 2010

500 Days of Christmas

This Christmas break, I took the opportunity to vegetate aplenty on comfy couches in front of oversize displays of all sorts. My holiday watched-list includes Sherlock Holmes (entertaining, though disparaging to the actual Holmes mythos), the Princess and the Frog (classic style, though ultimately unambitious), 500 Days of Summer (to be further discussed), and the first four episodes of V (well produced, though thoroughly typical).

While seeking viewership of Sherlock Holmes to celebrate Brutus' birthday, we discovered a wonderful thing - Telus Tuesdays. Yes friends, cheap movie Tuesdays have returned... and at the whopping deal of half price. $5.19 for a theatre movie in this economy? Excellent.

I still have to take issue with the ticket-buying interface. For instance, even though it was Telus Tuesday, we still have the option to purchase full-price tickets. The first three options on the ticket kiosk were Telus General (14-64), Telus Child, and Telus Senior. All three of these options were the same price ($10.50). If we're all getting charged the same price, why stratify the age categories? Probably to push the discounted prices further down the list. Options 4, 5, and 6 were Telus Tuesday General, Child, and Senior - again, all at the same price ($5.19). But sneaky shenanigans aside, $5.19 for a brand spanking new film in a Cineplex theatre is a great deal.

I have to contrast this with my quest to watch 500 Days of Summer with Sandlot. After scouring two Blockbuster Videos for 21 rented out copies of the movie, I ended up "renting" the film off of Rogers on Demand. RoD is a pay-per-view digital cable service that beams recent movies and television shows direct to your TV. I picked out an HD version of the movie to grace my television screen for a whopping $7.99. Now, I don't mean to complain (who am I kidding?), but having a movie rental cost more than seeing a movie in theatres is a little bit wrong. I know HD is great and all, but I doubt it qualifies as being worth more than the theatre experience. Apparently, convenience comes at a premium.


Let's not take my economic complaints to indicate that I didn't enjoy 500 Days of Summer, however. I did, and it was worth my $7.99.

The movie begins with a warning: This is not a love story. Sandlot took this to mean that I wouldn't enjoy it - myself being a champion of cheesy mush, relational sanctity, "true love and other associated crap." But while 500 Days of Summer was not a love story, it was a story about love - a quietly understated film that was chronologically confusing but thematically easy to relate to.

It reminds us that love is a product of two people, and that not everything goes as planned. It teaches us that even our unsuccessful endeavours are part of the story that is our life. And in the end, it whispers that love is something unpredictable, elegant, and beautiful.

[warning! spoilers ahead...]

If I had any beef with this film, it was that such a tangibly authentic and complex narrative ended so simplistically. Summer (of the eponymous 500 Days, get it?) leaps into marriage after her breakup with Tom, despite being a jaded and complicated individual who doesn't really seem to buy into this whole "love" thing. How did this happen? It's not impossible, but the viewer is left to guess at what has changed. In some ways, we can brush this aside as empathizing with Tom. After all, 500 Days of Summer is really a story about Tom. Sure, we don't really understand Summer, but neither does Tom. We're standing in Tom's shoes, feeling what Tom feels. Fair.

But then there is Tom, who finally getting his life in order bumps into his presumably next love interest. The one? She's far less ordinary looking than him and, oh yes, she's been watching him. Her name is, conveniently (sorry, it's not convenience, it's fate), Autumn. While I certainly appreciated the silver lining, pot of gold at the end of the rainbow approach, the entire affair seemed too rushed and too simple - as though an entire film was built on deconstructing Tom and Summer's relationship and then the shattered pieces were brushed away with one careless stroke. Too easy.

Nonetheless, I quite liked 500 Days - its narrative, its style, its themes, and the fact that I watched it huddled beside most remarkable person ever... in the middle of winter.

P.S. Tom's last name is Hansen. In case you were confused, people's bosses don't usually address them as "handsome."


shirls said...

Saw 500 Days of Summer with Alex on my birthday and again with a group of guys. Good film.

Word verification: beledisc

Jerry said...

It's too bad you hadn't talked to me beforehand, and asked me for the BluRay Rip of 500 Days of Summer which I could have given to you for FREE :D