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The Films of Cameron Crowe

Say Anything...


Jerry Maguire

Almost Famous

Vanilla Sky

Elizabethtown (August 11/14)

Much maligned but surprisingly entertaining, Elizabethtown follows Orlando Bloom's Drew Baylor as he's forced to head home in the wake of a colossal work failure and the death of his father - with the movie detailing Drew's subsequent efforts to change his life. Filmmaker Cameron Crowe does a superb job of immediately capturing the viewer's interest, as Elizabethtown opens with a captivating stretch revolving around Drew's work-related meltdown and aborted suicide attempt - with the effectiveness of this first act heightened by Bloom's surprisingly personable turn as the beleaguered central character. (It's probably not a stretch to say that the actor is far more charismatic here than he's been in the past.) The movie stumbles, however, with the introduction of Kirsten Dunst's love-interest figure, Claire Colburn, as the character has been saddled with a host of aggressively quirky attributes that are, initially, rather disastrous - although it's just as obvious that Claire's eventual friendship with Bloom's Drew is unexpectedly sweet and engrossing. (There is, for example, an extremely engaging sequence in which the two protagonists stay up all night talking about anything and everything.) It's clear, then, that Elizabethtown fares best when focused on the growing bond between Drew and Claire, as the film otherwise suffers from an overlong, padded-out feel that's compounded by the inclusion of certain questionable elements. (What are we to make, for example, of a eulogy that goes on for almost 10 minutes?) The rough-cut atmosphere ultimately diminishes the effectiveness of a few key moments towards the end, and yet it's difficult not to be won over by the movie's incredibly heartfelt third act - which does, finally, cement Elizabethtown's place as a better-than-expected drama from a consistently appealing filmmaker.

out of

The Union

Pearl Jam Twenty

We Bought a Zoo

Aloha (June 22/15)

Cameron Crowe hits rock bottom with this dull and mostly incoherent romance starring Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone, with the former playing a hotshot military contractor who arrives in Hawaii on business and subsequently finds himself falling for an oddball Air Force pilot (Stone's Allison Ng). There's exceedingly little contained within Aloha that wholeheartedly works, as writer/director Crowe augments the needlessly convoluted storyline with a whole host of misguided elements - with the best and most apt example of this the romance that inevitably forms between Cooper and Stone's respective characters. It's immediately clear that there's not an ounce of chemistry between the two actors and indeed, the pairing feels more akin to a father/daughter relationship than a romantic coupling. Crowe's emphasis on the pair's artificial-sounding banter only exacerbates the less-than-convincing nature of their scenes together, which is a shame, really, given that both Cooper and Stone deliver top-notch, thoroughly charismatic performances here. And as ill-advised as the love story ultimately is, Aloha's descent into full-on disaster territory is triggered and perpetuated by a plot that couldn't possibly make less sense - with the hands-off atmosphere compounded by the ongoing introduction of almost astonishingly tedious subplots. It is, in the end, all-too-obvious that Crowe has completely lost his way, and one can only hope he finds his way back before he makes another trainwreck like Aloha.

out of

© David Nusair