Sunday 20 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Comedy · Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks

In this appealing indie rom-com, a novelist’s girl of his dreams springs from the page to a real person.

Rod Lott August 15th, 2012

In Ruby Sparks, wunderkind author Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood) has a few problems — one being that he is dateless, another that his male dog pees like a girl. More pressing is that he lacks the inspiration to follow up the Great American Novel that landed the high-school dropout on The New York Times best-seller list when he was all of 19.

This changes when, at the urging of his shrink (Elliott Gould), Calvin writes about the young woman who wanders in and out of his slumber. The girl of his dreams literally becomes the girl of his dreams when she appears in his waking life, in his kitchen, as if they’re already a devoted couple.

Her name is Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan, Revolutionary Road), and she’s cut from the cloth pattern labeled Adorable Hipster Girlfriend. Having his ideal partner available to him 24/7 inspires an adrenaline rush of prose in Calvin, and he finds that whatever he types about her on the page comes true with the living, breathing version.

It’s as if Weird Science fell in love with Adaptation, and they each went in halfsies on a subscription to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.

The best thing about Ruby Sparks, which opens Friday at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W. Memorial, is Ruby herself: both the character and her creator, as Kazan wrote the screenplay for her and Dano, her real-life boyfriend. The clever script is in good hands with married directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who finally work again after their Oscar-winning sleeper hit of 2006, Little Miss Sunshine.

The two films share similarities — quirky but well-tempered characters, an effective score, posters of people running toward the right (see Exhibit A, at right) — but Sparks emits less energy, only some by design.

A section of the film in which Calvin and Ruby visit his mother and stepfather (Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas) is comically out of tone, and Dano fails to rise to the climax’s dark demands, relying on an open mouth to emote while Kazan commands the screen and runs circles around him.

Hers is a performance that traverses many layers, emotions and even languages, and the ultimate reason to see Ruby Sparks. While it may be a sidestep for Dayton and Faris, the film marks a huge leap forward for Kazan.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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