Dysfunction is the name of the game in David O. Russell’s most recent Oscar nominated film Silver Linings Playbook. While the dysfunction is obvious in some characters, it takes some characters longer to prove how “crazy” they really are. Nominated for eight Oscars, including a nomination in every one of the big seven categories, Silver Linings Playbook is a darkly comedic masterpiece.
Opening in a mental hospital, the film shows glimpses of main character Pat Solitano’s (Bradley Cooper) final days just before his release. Picked up by his mother Dolores Solitano (Jacki Weaver) Pat is taken home to live with his parents in Philadelphia. Greeted by his father Pat Solitano Sr. (Robert De Niro) it becomes clear that Pat and his father have a strained relationship. It appears to be due to Pat and his problems but as the film progresses we come to realize that his father, an obsessive compulsive book maker, has problems of his own. Released from the hospital with a bipolar disorder and anger issues, Pat becomes dead set on seeing his wife which is impossible. After the tragic incident that landed Pat in the hospital, his wife took a restraining order out against him. Pat desperately tries to contact his wife through his friend Ronnie (John Ortiz) and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles) who are friends with Pat’s wife. It is with them that he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).
A young woman who is just as damaged as Pat, the two strike up an odd friendship. After being widowed at an extremely young ate, Tiffany becomes a depressed, non-trusting sarcastic person. Coping with her lose by sleeping with strangers, Tiffany starts down a bad path with a number of men treating her as an object. When Tiffany and Pat first meet, their relationship grows out of necessity. Pat is hoping that Tiffany will bring a note to his wife while Tiffany needs a dance partner in an upcoming competition. The two spend time together, eventually realizing that they are not only good for one another mentally but that they care about each other.
Brilliantly written and directed by David O. Russell, this film highlighted the struggles of living with a mental illness. We watch family and friends that clearly love each other very much struggle to express themselves and understand each other. Tiffany and Pat once reference matching each other’s crazy, an odd way of saying that they are starting to understand each other. In a stroke of pure brilliance, O. Russell uses the camera to try and get the audience to understand what the characters are going through. It’s as if he made the camera bipolar. Mirroring the mood swings of the characters, the camera jumps from manic to depressed. Sometimes it can’t focus on just one thing, panning around a room while a character is talking rather than focusing on the speaker. At other times there is chaos but the camera can only focus on one thing, be it anything from a person’s face to a building. The camera stays tight on that one thing in a POV close-up. The camera, like the main characters, has mood swings and some times has trouble focusing on what’s important. Normally this would not work but for this film it was a brilliantly creative move.
Earlier I mentioned that the film was nominated for the big seven Oscar categories which are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro) and Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver). Cooper and Lawrence both deserve their nominations and possibly both deserve to win. Cooper will have a harder time than Lawrence, who won the Golden Globe for her performance, going up against heavy hitters like Daniel Day Lewis and Denzel Washington. De Niro also deserves his nomination for the whole film but specifically for a tear-jerking speech he gives to Pat. As of right now I would give David O. Russell the Oscar for Best Director and don’t see me changing my mind in the near future. I give this film a 10 out of 10. It certainly has the stuff to win Best Picture but in a year of amazing films, Silver Linings Playbook will have to fight for its win.
During the Fall, Winter and Spring television seasons, NBC fills its Thursday night line up with four of its comedy television shows. Every week there was an evening of comedic television for comedy fans to look forward too, leaving a hole when NBC comedy night ended in the spring. Last night, Thursday June 28th, FX attempted to fill that hole with their own comedy night by premiering two new comedy shows and returning two shows for their second and third season.
• 8:00 Anger Management: I was not overly excited for Charlie Sheen’s return to television and I was right not to get my hopes up. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Two and a Half Men when Charlie Sheen was on it, I found it to be corny and crude. Anger Management is a very similar show. Sheen stars as psychologist, which allows the writers to introduce a cast of crazy characters, that is divorced and has a no nonsense daughter. Beyond that, Sheen’s character seemed to be taken directly from Two and a Half Men. He is a womanizer, a chauvinist and is obsessed with sex. I believe the show tried to make him less of a pig by giving him a family but ultimately, we are watching the same man make the same jokes in the same situations.
• 9:00 Wilfred: The Wilfred season premiere aired last week and last night was the second season’s second episode. I love this show. I think it’s hilarious and brilliant and the first two episodes this season have proven that this show is not afraid to be different. The season premiere picked up where the season 1 finale left off, Elijah Wood attempting to determine if he is crazy. Though there weren’t many laughs last week, I appreciate what direction the show took for the episode. This week however, Wilfred and Ryan were reunited and hilarity ensued. With his mind poisoned by Drew (Chris Klein), Jenna’s boyfriend, Wilfred no longer wants to be best friends with the selfish Ryan. As Ryan spends the episode trying to get back into Wilfred’s good graces, the two slowly restart their relationship. The end shot of the show, with Wilfred and Ryan smoking pot and making jokes, suggests that next week’s episode will return to the norm the show established in their first season. I liked to see a comedy show go out on a limb and do something different with their story and their characters. Wilfred has been strong so far this season and I look forward to the rest of Season 2.
• 9:30 Louie: It took me a while to get into this show but now that I have given it a real shot, I believe it may be the funniest comedy on television. Season 3 started with a hilariously awkward bang. The mind of Louie C.K. is so brilliant it is almost difficult to believe. With his show and his standup, Louie has been able to cultivate a style of comedy that is unique which is rare for a new show. Most new shows now seem to emulate or model themselves off of a previous show but Louie is unique. If you don’t like or understand sarcasm, I cannot stress enough that this show is not for you. Louie uses sarcasm without shame or limits throughout his career, creating an endless number of awkwardly hilarious scenes. The sarcasm combined with a barrage of ever changing facial expressions mix together to create a half an hour of brilliant television. My only complaint about the season premiere is that there weren’t enough cut scenes to Louie’s standup comedy. In previous seasons, they would cut to a stand up routine at least twice an episode but in the premiere, they only had one stand up scene. Other than that I have no complaints, it was perfect.
• 10:00 Brand X: I was really excited for Russell Brand’s new late night show and ended up being horribly disappointed. I have seen Brands standup comedy before and thought it was hilarious so I just assumed that the comedy would transfer to his late night show. What I got was a number of incoherent rants and disjointed jokes that barely even got me to crack a smile. I don’t know if maybe I didn’t understand the topics Brand was talking about or if I’m just completely ignorant but the show did not work for me. I did expect the show to be amazing but it let me down, it let me down hard. I found Brand X to be the weakest comedy of the evening and don’t even know if I’m going to give it a second chance.