Tag: amanda peet

Please Give

Please Give (2010)
★★★ / ★★★★

A married couple (Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt) living in New York City bought the apartment next door in hopes of expanding their home. All they had to do was to await the death of their elderly neighbor (Ann Morgan Guilbert) so they could move in and make the necessary changes. But the old woman, helped by her two granddaughters (Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet), did not seem to show any sign of passing away any time soon. “Please Give,” written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, was an effective comedy, which at times made me feel uneasy, because it showcased unlikable people doing and saying things that were, in the least, inappropriate. In others words, it captured real life. Even though it made me feel uncomfortable, I constantly laughed because I could imagine myself making the same decisions as the characters did here. Many scenes were familiar. For instance, while at a restaurant or a diner, we could hear banal conversations of others from a few tables away. There were also scenes where the characters expressed, without holding back, their anger toward their grandparents without regard for people, mostly strangers, who just happened to be there. I liked its honesty despite how painful certain truths were. I also enjoyed how I wasn’t quite sure whether the director was being emotionally sincere or poking fun at the characters as it moved from one scene to another. When Keener decided to volunteer for mentally challenged kids, on one hand, I was touched because I was reminded of the time when I used to volunteer at an Alzheimer’s facility. On some level, I felt like she was serious about wanting to commit and make a difference on those children’s lives. On the other hand, I thought it was very amusing because Keener’s character was such an insecure person but was not even aware of it. She felt like helping the world (she found giving money to homeless people rewarding) but she had important unresolved issues such as her guilt regarding her job and her increasingly difficult relationship with her pimply-faced teenage daughter (Sarah Steele). When the material became emotionally complex, I thought it was at its best. “Please Give” focused on people’s insecurities and their inability to deal with the way they saw themselves compared to how they thought the world perceived them. Best of all, in order to remain honest with the material, the ending gave a sufficient sense of closure to its characters without being melodramatic or heavy-handed. It felt just right because, while not every problem was solved, I felt like the characters would continue to be a work in progress.


2012 (2009)
★★ / ★★★★

Written and directed by a disaster movie aficionado Roland Emmerich (“The Day After Tomorrow,” “Godzilla,” “Independence Day”), “2012” was about a writer (John Cusack) who stumbled upon information about government operatives preparing for the end of the world and decided to take his wife (Amanda Peet) and children (Liam James, Morgan Lily) to safety. Meanwhile, scientists, humanitarians and politicians all over the world (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Danny Glover) scramble to plan on what to do when the major disasters finally strike while at the same time try to contain the information from the public. I thought “2012” was not as bad as critics claimed to be. I was entertained from beginning to end because when I decide to watch a disaster flick, I’m not concerned so much about the story and character development. I’m more focused with the special and visual effects of destruction and mayhem. On that level, I think “2012” delivered. Unfortunately, I felt like this picture had too many characters and it essentially had trouble juggling each of them. In addition, I felt like the storyline regarding Cusack and Peet’s characters have been done before: how the man and the woman of the family rediscover their passion for each other after years of disagreements and workaholism. In fact, there were times when I thought it tried to inject too much story when it really did not need to. After all, when disasters happen, finding refuge should be a good enough incentive to work together. Reigniting any sort of passion should be left in the back burner. It quickly became repetitive and I constantly wondered how many more minutes until the next natural disaster. I did like some of the supporting actors in this film because they provided a nice breather from the typicality of it all: Thandie Newton as the daughter of the president of the United States and Johann Urb as the Russian pilot. Granted, they did not get to do much but I was actually interested in their back stories. I definitely wondered how the movie would have been different if the focus was on them instead of the family. Personally, as far as disaster features go, I prefer “The Day After Tomorrow” because I thought it was a little more intimate and it was not as all over the place. But I can see why a lot of people, such as my mom who doesn’t really care about the story as long as there are explosions, think this one is very enjoyable because of the many intense action sequences. My advice is too see it for the fluff, not for its emotional core.