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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 49
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Love & Other Drugs a prescription worth filling
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

Love & Other Drugs
Now Playing


Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) is wandering through life. His younger brother Josh (Josh Gad) is a multi-millionaire with a sexy wife thanks to his internet startup company, while his doctor parents James (George Segal) and Nancy (Jill Clayburgh) and his M.D. sister Helen (Natalie Gold) can't fathom why he dropped out of medical school. He's aimless and searching, using his cocksure personality to get by while looking for a plum opportunity, knowing that when it comes along he'll have the good sense to grab it.

Soon, Jamie is working in the upstart industry of pharmaceutical sales. Partnered with seasoned salesman Bruce Winston (Oliver Platt), the charming young man soon ingratiates himself with physicians all across town, including Dr. Stan Knight (Hank Azaria), a professional womanizer who's more well-meaning and good at his chosen profession than he would care to admit.

It's through him that Mark meets Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway), a sexy and vivacious free spirit who hides a painful secret. She doesn't want people (mainly men) to get close to her, but for whatever reason, she allows the salesman to breach her defenses. But what starts out as sex quickly transforms into friendship, a friendship that even more suddenly blossoms into love. Now Mark must face Maggie's illness head-on while she must decide whether or not she wants to allow him to. The pair has to come to grips with the fact that a life together might be more trying than either of them is prepared to endure.

Love & Other Drugs is not an easy film to encapsulate. It defies genre categorization, jumping from romantic comedy to pure drama willy-nilly. It has tons on its mind, but isn't always sure of the best way to flesh those ideas out. It is a convoluted picture  sometimes pointlessly so  but it is also quite marvelous and emotionally intoxicating at the same time. Director and co-writer Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond, Glory) crafts with an elegant beauty I thoroughly enjoyed.

Loosely based on Jamie Reidy's nonfiction Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, the movie is the most unusual blend of comedy, romance, and drama since Zwick's thirtysomething left the airwaves in 1991. It jumps genres, continually keeping me on my toes and forcing me to remain focused on Jamie and Maggie. It is refreshingly frank, reveling in its innate sexuality while at the same time keeping things honest and real. While the world it exists in is very much a 1990s-era construct, the things it is talking about are timeless, and while the central love affair has roadblocks somewhat difficult to comprehend, the relationship truths it speaks to are universal.

Sometimes the film's sudden shifts in tone can be annoying, as thing jump from slapstick to medical melodrama at the drop of a hat. Additionally, the insertion of Josh as a part of Jamie's emotional maturation early on (he's having marital troubles and decides to sleep on big brother's couch) quickly annoys, as his character is a pointless one whose mannerisms and tics drove me nuts. I also found the final sequences to be a bit hackneyed and overblown  the only thing separating it from being a total Cameron Crowe cliché was someone uttering 'You complete me' or 'You had me at hello.'

And yet, Love & Other Drugs is so well-acted, so bracingly honest in its depiction of early onset Parkinson's Disease, so refreshingly frank when it comes to its characters foibles and insecurities, I almost couldn't help but slowly come to adore it. Zwick keeps things grounded and never lets events fly too far off the handle. Better, there are moments of cutting insight that had me flabbergasted  for example, a journey to a Parkinson's support group meeting was so skillfully realized I couldn't help but shed a few tears.

Then there is Hathaway. She is every bit as extraordinary as Maggie as she ever was as Kym in Rachel's Getting Married. She throws herself into this thing body and soul, and yet her performance never seems forced or false. Every beat she hits  no matter how schmaltzy or tawdry it might appear on paper  ends up feeling genuine. I was with her from the first moment she came upon the screen, and Hathaway again proves she is one of the most gifted and talented actresses of her generation.

The movie isn't perfect. Zwick relies a bit too strongly on his pop and rock soundtrack to get him from points A to B to C, and some of the switches in tone don't transition as well as I'd have liked them to. But I believed in Jamie and Maggie's relationship and wanted to see them make it out of the wilderness intact. Love & Other Drugs is a refreshingly adult love story full of pitfalls and hiccups that kept me watching no matter which direction it decided to go in. It worked for me, and by the time it was over the happiness I was feeling was something no psychotropic prescription could ever hope to duplicate.


The Tourist free movie pass giveaway at Purr
by Albert Rodriguez SGN A&E Writer Two big stars, two breathtaking cities, one dramatic plot. Academy Award nominee Johnny Depp and Oscar winner Angelina Jolie meet haphazardly - or do they? - on the streets of Paris and Venice in The Tourist, the holiday season nailbiter hitting multiplexes in the coming weeks. Seattle Gay News will be giving away free passes to an advance screening of the film at Purr (1518 11th Avenue) on Monday, December 6 during happy hour, starting at 4 p.m. A great movie for travel buffs, Europhiles, and fans of Depp or Jolie, you can view the official trailer for The Tourist at www.thetourist-movie.com before picking up your pass at Purr.




Where It's At: 'Deck the Hall Ball' rings joyfully with two Bells
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

'Deck the Hall Ball' w/ Broken Bells, Jimmy Eat World, Cake, Sleigh Bells, The Black Keys, Temper Trap
December 8
WaMu Theater


The holiday season in Seattle wouldn't be the same without the merry-go-round at Westlake Center (it spins too fast, in my opinion), or without Nordstrom's massive photo shop encroaching their storefront sidewalk, or without those infectiously flavored beverages Starbucks elves seem to stir up (gingerbread latte? Yes please!). Another reminder of the giving season is the long list of cheery live entertainment, from The Nutcracker to Dina Martina to The End's annual 'Deck the Hall Ball,' which this year packs a mighty blow with six alternative music acts that separately would be worth seeing.

Among the bands taking part in the radio station's bash on Wednesday are two kinds of bells - allow me to differentiate them for you. Broken Bells is the collaborative team of Danger Mouse and James Mercer (of The Shins, formerly based in Seattle), while Sleigh Bells is an established duo comprised of Derek E. Miller and Alexis Krauss. Both produce some form of electronic music, Broken Bells combing it through light rock songs like 'The High Road' and 'The Ghost Inside,' Sleigh Bells pounding it onto punk-heavy tracks like 'Crown on the Ground' and 'Tell 'Em.' Their albums are two of the most critically acclaimed in 2010, Broken Bells' self-titled release and Sleigh Bells' Treats.

Now that we have our bells in order, the rest of the lineup includes The Black Keys, Jimmy Eat World, Cake, and Temper Trap. Each of these groups can or has sold out venues as big as The Showbox SoDo, and thus uniting them - with the aforementioned acts - under one roof on the same night is a helluva stocking stuffer. The only drawback to a show with multiple performers is the crunched set times, reminding me of how disappointed I was last year when Phoenix was on and off the stage in less time than it took me to get to WaMu Theater. On the plus side, DTHB usually attracts the chill alternative crowd, the dot commers, the tattooed baristas, the wispy girls wearing skirts and boots, the hoodie-wearers, and all those city folk that wouldn't otherwise escape into their introverted worlds; somehow they converge at events like this - a mini-Sasquatch without the long drive.

Doors open at 4 p.m. with the first band hitting the stage at 4:30 p.m. Light rail is the best transportation for getting to/from the venue; the Stadium station is what you want. And drinks are pricey at the venue, so you've been warned. For more details, visit www.1077theend.com.


SMC shines with Holiday Glee
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HOMO for the Holidays burlesque cabaret no ordinary holiday party
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PNB celebrates 27th year of Sendak/Stowell's glorious Nutcracker
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Jackie Beat returns to Seattle for one-night-only holiday show
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Definitely a HAIR do!
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A perfect case of Sherlock Scrooge
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Red Ranger Came Calling a holiday treat
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A Dyke About Town: Greta Matassa and friends launch Christmas in a jazzy way
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Love & Other Drugs a prescription worth filling
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The Tourist free movie pass giveaway at Purr
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Where It's At: 'Deck the Hall Ball' rings joyfully with two Bells
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Eminem triumphs over GaGa, Antebellum ?with 10 Grammy nods
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Northwest News
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Letters
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The 2010 Earshot Jazz festival
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Ralph Lemon performance piece long and unremarkable
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Passion Pit brought the party to the Moore
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