#208 / 365 – ‘Friends with Benefits’ – 109 mins
Cinema Challenge #83 / 115
Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) are young, attractive and successful. Jamie’s a New York-based headhunter. Dylan’s a graphic designer she lured from LA. They get on really well, but have both been through plenty of failed relationships and are naturally wary of getting involved. So why not just have sex? After all, they both agree that love is a fantasy promoted by Hollywood romantic comedies. There’s no reason why a physical relationship should be complicated and emotional. How could their experiment in casual, no-strings rumpy-pumpy possibly go wrong?
With its theme of sex without commitments, this raunchy romantic comedy has a lot more going for it than its premise first implies. It’s playful, very funny and the charismatic pairing of Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake who give off a natural, almost flawless chemistry as the sex buddies Dylan and Jamie, whilst squeezing lots out of the sharp, smart and witty script that explores almost every avenue of a relationship.
Friends with Benefits brims throughout with pop culture references and upbeat moments like a flash mob scene, and the running gag about songs (and it as a fantastic soundtrack) and music in a film to create mood.
Yes Friends with Benefits is clichéd in places and plays out as exactly as you expect any rom-com too. However if you factor in the fine comic timing of Timberlake and Kunis and the stellar work from a first-rate supporting cast of Patricia Clarkson as Jamie’s ditzy mother who steals every scene she appears in, Jenna Elfman as Dylan’s involving sister, Woody Harrelson who is hilarious as the blatantly gay sports editor and the ever reliable Richard Jenkins as Dylan’s Alzheimer’s stricken father, then you’ve certainty got a very likeable and fresh entry from a very stale genre of late.
#209 / 365 – ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ (1988) – 86 mins
IMDb Challenge #123 / 250 – Ranked #190 – Via Lovefilm
Two young girls, Satsuke and her younger sister Mei, move into a house in the country with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother. Satsuke and Mei discover that the nearby forest is inhabited by magical creatures called Totoros. They soon befriend these Totoros, and have several magical adventures.
With 6 entries registering on the IMDb 250, voters are loving the Japanese brilliance of Studio Ghibli and it’s easy to why. My Neighbour Totoro has a much more simplistic approach to it than that of the sprawling fantasy epics like ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’ and ‘Howls Moving Castle’ from the studio, but nonetheless affecting and is every bit as magical.
Moments that bring the most delight in the film are like when, Satsuke and Mei explore their home with genuine enthusiasm and take everything in with an unrestrained joy and glee, and then when Mei takes the greatest delight in receiving a simple, prepared lunch and then proceeds to spend the rest of the day running around the fields.
My Neighbour Totoro is a delightful family film that deals with a difficult subject of illness and the pains of growing up and outputs it in an honest, innocent and beautiful way with an easygoing flow.