Saturday, October 31, 2009

Keepin' It Really Reel Award - October '09

Man, it’s been almost a month since we last posted (sorry loyal R3 fans), but now we’re back. And what better way to return to the grand stage than the same way we left – with a Keepin’ It Really Reel Award! Sorry, I get really pumped for these things. So here you have it, October’s Keepin’ It Really Reel Award goes to……drum roll…… anyone associated with, the entire cast and crew of, and the movie itself – as far as a movie can keep it real – Away We Go.

When this movie came out Terry and I wanted to see it, but we just felt it wasn’t right for the podcast at the time and what we were trying to do with all the summer blockbusters. So I waited until Netflix decided to give me a little red envelope on a much needed Friday night spent locked indoors. As I said I was excited to see this film and here are some reasons:
Sam Mendes: I’m a huge fan of the movies he’s done. American Beauty was great, but my favorite Mendes direction came in the form of Road to Perdition (I’m a sucker for movies like that). Now, Away We Go has crept up to the top of that list. This is, in a very unassuming, retrieved way, one of Sam Mendes’ best works.
Dave Eggers: he co-wrote this script. Where the Wild Things Are was chronologically the first script he wrote, but Away We Go was his first to be released to the masses. I am a fan of Eggers in both his fiction and non-fiction works and I have come to admire what he does with various foundations and in his editorial roles.
Green Filmmaking: Let’s face it everything about the moviemaking process is wasteful. From the energy needed to get actors to a set to shoot a simple scene, to all the garbage and waste from the beginning of a shoot to the amount of waste viewers create when we watch them in theatres. Away We Go is a green film in which the producers, entire cast and crew, and various supporters made conscious efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. If making a full length film with a “green mind” isn’t enough to convince us all that we’re capable of making large change with very small steps then I don’t know what is. The way we currently treat our environment is not only detrimental to our future, but it’s just laughable how easy it is to change it and instead we do nothing.
Alexi Murdoch: most people are unaware that they are aware of Alexi Murdoch. His most notable and recognizable tune is “Orange Sky” made famous by that Honda Element commercial from a few years back. His Four Songs EP was a great tease of exceptional folk music and was finally followed up by the debut LP Time Without Consequence. Many of the songs featured in the film come from that album and they couldn’t fit more perfectly with the mood and tone of the film as Sam Mendes himself admitted.

Away We Go Trailer - More amazing videos are a click away
When a loving couple, Burt Farlander (John Krasinski) and Verona De Tessant (Maya Rudolph), find out they’re pregnant they are forced to examine where and how they will raise their new child. By mixing their search for friends/a support system with a search for a new home, Burt and Verona embark on an impromptu journey home. The journey, however, is less about where home is, but what home is…

I’ve said it in the podcast many times and I’ll write it again here: we can talk about directors, actors, DP’s, and all the other snobby stuff we like to say when it comes to movies, but at the end of the day it’s about emotions; movies – good ones anyway- make us feel…something. While we watch our characters go on their journey, whether they are road trips; personal battles; or championship games, we as the audience go on our own emotional journey. And Away We Go takes us there. It is a film that is wonderfully and perfectly over-the-top in terms of its comedic characters and circumstances, but also a film that manages to stay very human and sincere at its core. And this is most true in one of the more remarkable scenes I have seen this year. It takes place in some Canadian Karaoke/Variety performance venue on an Amateur night. A delightful couple – college friends of Burt and Verona – share with them their views on family and child rearing while also exposing the tragedies in their own life. They’re a great pair of scenes that are juxtaposed with their surroundings in a way that only Mendes and this cast could pull off.

And the cast is very good. The supporting cast is strong, carrying out just a bit more than what is expected and needed from them. But the true delights are Krasinski and Rudolph. A lot of movie critics like to talk about relationship movies by pointing out chemistry, or lack thereof between the leading man and woman. For years I had no idea what they were talking about; how do you quantify chemistry? Sure, some casting pairs are disastrous, but it’s mainly due a bad story in the first place. But if there is to be a gold standard in on-screen chemistry, then Away We Go is that standard.

Krasinski and Rudolph are a great pair and we’re totally in their corner throughout the movie. Krasinski is on point with his comedic timing, but is different than his normal role of “smart guy surrounded by people dumber than him” (The Office, License to Wed). Loyal Krasinski fans will not be disappointed, and he certainly will gain some new ones after viewing this. Rudolph is just mind blowing; both her acting talent and beauty were kept secret for too long on Saturday Night Live. Burt and Verona are clearly partners in everything they do, but Verona is the glue, and the same is true for Maya Rudolph’s performance. She is our lady, our driving force, and the brightest light in the movie.

There you have it. October’s Keepin’ it Really Reel Award recipient and the first film I’ve reviewed that will receive the coveted Fifth Reel. Away We Go -- 5 Reels out of 5