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Recently Watched Romantic Comedies

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The Big Sick (2017) - Autobiographical rom-com from Amazon Studios and director Michael Showalter. Kumail Nanjiani stars as Kumail, a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian struggling for success in Chicago. He meets and falls for Emily (Zoe Kazan), who he meets at one of his stand-up gigs, but there's a problem: his traditionalist parents want him to submit to an arranged marriage to a Muslim Pakistani girl. His efforts to keep his relationship with a white American girl a secret from his parents eventually leads to discord with Emily, who is unaware of Kumail's dilemma. When Emily suddenly falls deathly ill and into a coma, Kumail must also deal with her parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano). These trying times force Kumail to reevaluate his life and make bold decisions about his future. Also featuring Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler, Vella Lovell, and David Alan Grier.

I know Nanjiani from some TV series that he's been in, as well as seeing his stand-up a few times on talk shows. While I've always liked him, I didn't expect to see him in such a well-balanced, authentic, romantic film. He co-wrote it with the real-life Emily (Emily V. Gordon), and their story is fresh, funny, and compelling. Holly Hunter has garnered a lot of praise for her role as Emily's brash mother, and she's good, if a bit showy. Romano is excellently low-key, and I was impressed by Shroff as Kumail's matchmaker mother. This was executive produced by Judd Apatow, and it has that same disregard for cinematic flourishes that all of his movies do. Most modern rom-coms are so formulaic that it's become a running joke how predictable they are. While this movie doesn't re-invent the wheel, it's a very well done look at an unconventional couple. Recommended.  (8/10)

Source: Lionsgate Blu-Ray.


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The Student Prince in Old Heidelburg (1927) - this silent film by the great Ernst Lubitsch - he is great, no doubt about it - is a gloriously giddy celebration of being away from home - the young prince (Ramon Navarro) is sent off to university, finding new male companions within that setting (Navarro is constantly surrounded by men, men, men, who seem besides themselves in celebrating the unrestricted joys of going to university) and falling into a forbidden love (a pretty barmaid, who is played by a very young Norma Shearer) that seems to know no boundaries - there is a love scene that's set in a field of wild flowers that seem as intoxicated at the lovers are).


Navarro and Shearer work well together - and their love for each other is both real and infectious.

Navarro, who had trouble in being "masculine" on screen, is very convincing here - but you do strongly sense that he and Shearer liked each other off-screen.

See Navarro in "The Flying Fleet", another silent film, in which he is entirely too "soft" to play the male lead.

Toward the end of the film, which would much rather celebrate the wonder and the mystery of being in love, the film grapples with a plot - the prince is called back home, his father is dying - and he must assume a ruler's duties and marry a princess whom his father has chosen.

It's a sour ending for a film that has been telling us that there is nothing quite as lovely as a romantic setting (all those overly expressive young men for whom life is a constant high) and the rapture of forbidden love (Shearer is very attractive - and available).

The film has a very strong homosexual subtext - but I would hestitate to push that reading onto the film.   

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life! - 


Ramon Navarro at his most movie-star glamorous - 



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