People prefer to remember the achy stirrings of first love rather than the protracted agonies of a deteriorating relationship. Hence, the steady stream of syrupy movies about the former. "The Break-Up" swims against the stream and spawns something refreshingly unique. Chicago couple Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) get into an argument which exposes the cracks in their fragile relationship. They break up, but neither is willing to move out of the apartment which they share. This all turns into a long, drawn-out affair in which miscommunication and missed opportunities to reconcile mount as the relationship continues its irreversible freefall. Vaughn and Aniston have a palpable chemistry, mostly due to Vaughn's charismatic turn as the mouthy, selfish yet adorable jerk. Jon Favreau is unnervingly funny as his twisted but insightful best friend, and Judy Davis is equally amusing as Brooke's boss, a stern gallery owner and artist who offers her preposterous advice about men. Director Peyton Reed, who brought us the inexcusably insipid "Down with Love," hits the mark this time around. For anyone who has fought their way through a relationship, "The Break Up" rings unnervingly true but peppers the discomfiture with a generous dose of cleverness.Â
1/2 ( Sherwin Das )
Here we go again. "The Break-Up" is another comedy that feels suspiciously like a tragedy. If your concept of gender derives from the philosophy that men are from Mars and women are from Venus then you may well enjoy "The Break-Up," which, as the title suggests, is about a couple breaking up. Gary (Vince Vaughan) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) are in love. Then they do what loving couples do: they buy a condo. Then they do what loving couples do: they start arguing. Then they do what loving couples do: they break up, which is where the film picks up with great hilarity. They bicker about who gets what. They go out on new dates. They pick over where it all went wrong. And they learn a valuable lesson about themselves in the process. The audience chuckles and laughs because it's supposedly funny. Personally, it just made me sad. Call me a prude, but I do not think the sight of two adults behaving like emotionally retarded children is an amusing spectacle. I think it's a damning indictment of what we so glibly let pass for love. I think that I can't take much more Hollywood. I think we're breaking up.
( Tim Ochser )
Until my fortuitous turn as a film critic, horror films were beneath my refined tastes. Forced to review films which I would not normally attend, I've now learned that not all horror films are junk, some are entertaining and a few even impressive. It all makes sense because horror has long been a stepping stone for countless talented artists from John Travolta and Johnny Depp to Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Jackson. Filmmakers, in particular, who are able to bring an original vision to the classic scary movie, tend to move on to bigger and better things quickly. This is precisely what Jim Sonzero has done in "Pulse," a film about a dreadful computer virus which spreads through wireless frequencies. But this particular virus doesn't just crash your system. It trashes your soul and drains you of the will to live, causing a suicide epidemic as it spreads. "Pulse" rises above its macabre premise and predictable dialogue, with a strong visual style and creepy kinetic atmosphere. It's authentically chilling to watch students search their missing friends' apartments at the beginning of the film, and grainy Web cam footage of disillusioned, suicidal teens is eerily reminiscent of many troubled kids we know exist in reality.Â
( Sherwin Das )
"Pulse" was ridiculed by most critics as an inferior remake of the Japanese horror film "Kairo" but I found it rather enjoyable in its utter silliness. When Mattie (Kristen Bell) witnesses her hacker boyfriend hang himself with a computer cable, her cosy co-ed world starts to literally fall apart. It seems that he hacked into a computer that contained some sort of ghoulish extraterrestrial species and now they're on the loose through cell phone signals and Internet frequencies. The film's basic premise is akin to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in the way it exploits contemporary fears of alienation and loss of identity, except it is far more stupid. It isn't so much a case of the ghost in the machine as the machine in the ghost. But for all its many flaws "Pulse" is still good fun, especially when people start killing themselves en mass to escape the life-draining techno-spooks and heading out to the countryside where there are no digital cables in sight. There is always something slightly gratifying about watching apocalyptic scenarios from the comfort of a cozy cinema seat. But these days the abandoned city streets are filled with loose sheets of paper blowing around rather than tumbleweed.Â
1/2( Tim Ochser )