I Love You, Man (John Hamburg, 2009). I’m not entirely sure what makes one of these bromances better than another, and the entire concept seems to be going downhill at a rapid pace. But this is actually pretty good. The gross-out humor is gentler than usual, and it’s balanced by other funny parts, so the comedy is well-rounded. Jason Segel does a terrific job as The Guy … he’s a recognizable stereotype, but Segel makes the concept human, so you can see why other men would like him. Paul Rudd’s character is at times so embarrassing we squirm as we watch him, but unlike something like The Office, where the squirminess emanates from characters acting like jerks, Rudd makes us squirm because we want him to succeed (and he’s really bad at most of what he attempts). There isn’t much depth to the rest of the characters, but Rashida Jones passes the Blu-ray test … her total gorgeousness works just fine under the Blu-ray microscope, right down to the freckles on her nose.
The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder). Hanna Schygulla is so entrancing, I fell under her spell just as many of the men in the film do. I barely noticed that Maria was something less than a “good guy.” Of course, she always explains herself to her mostly willing “victims,” and they seem to get more good than bad out of their relationships with her. But Schygulla creates such a convincing portrayal of a woman who does what she thinks is necessary, and manages to enjoy it, that I failed to realize she wasn’t actually enjoying it as much as I thought. When she has lunch with the man with whom she is having an affair, and they admit to each other that they are unhappy, she makes their unhappiness seem appropriate, as if being unhappy made her happy. She also gets off my favorite line in the film, when she says to the man after he asks her why they stay together, “Because you're well brought up and I pretend I am.” #457 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time.