Margin Call Review

My movie review of Margin Call for Brightest Young Things.

Margin Call is essentially the fiction counterpart to the scathing documentary condemnation of Wall Street hubris, Inside Job. Err, except that it is actually based on all too chillingly real story—48 hours in the life of a investment firm during the 2008 meltdown. In that sense, the tension is psychological but no less thrilling, and unlike Wall Street and Boiler Room, it does away with the aggrandization of the macho-centric “old boy network” and slicked-back-hair-swagger of the financial world. J.C. Chandor’s debut, featuring a star cast including Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, and Jeremy Irons, attempts to humanize what are essentially two-dimensional caricatures in the public consciousness—the Wall Street “fat cats” and their trader underling whiz kids. It’s a film that raises more questions than it answers, as it should be—it’s a trenchant commentary on the nebulousness of the word accountability and morality or right or wrong in the paper world of money–literally.

Zachary Quinto plays a young risk management wonk, with a Ph.D. in rocket science no less, who, after some late-night number crunching, “discovers” that the firm is leveraged beyond historical limits and that at current market volatility levels, it is looking to incur losses greater than its value. The big guns are called in, including the CEO [played with appropriate Euro-trash bluster by Jeremy Irons] who literally helicopters in to weigh in with the decision on how to offload the toxic assets pronto. Kevin Spacey turns in a spectacular performance as a world-weary trading floor boss on who falls the burden of doing the dirty job of selling worthless instruments. His character in particular is extremely interesting and nuanced—he resists management’s “sell something worth nothing” plan not from a moral high ground but from the perspective of a veteran salesman—“We are not in the business of selling. We are in the business of buying and selling. And we only sell stuff that we know people will come back for. No one will trust us again.” In his amoral, strange, yet stoically samurai-esque way, he has loyalty to the firm—not its CEOs and not the market. He is also not oblivious to the cut-throat nature of their business—after a particularly brutal lay-off of 80% of his traders, he advises the ones left behind that their co-workers are “not to be thought of again.” His exchange with Quinto’s character on whether selling the assets is “the right thing to do” really encapsulates the message of the whole film–“For whom?” “I am not sure.” “Neither am I.”

Margin Call deserves credit for shining a light on a really broad scope of the Wall Street milieu. For example, the firing of Sarah Robertson, Demi Moore’s risk management character, while her male counterpart stayed on hinted at the chauvinistic nature of the business. The dialogue between the junior staff about their being glorified computer junkies and about this being a game of “one guy wins, one guy loses,” as well as the “f*** normal people” nihilistic ethos of the business was nicely and subtly portrayed. The CEO’s assertion that it “wasn’t brains that got [him] here” were a cheeky comment on the current discourse on the Wall Street fat cats. The hookers-and-blow excess also added a realistic touch to the picture.

Considering that we are still in the midst of the economic quagmire that Margin Call alludes to, the film nicely manages to avoid running into the “too soon” category. No Ph.D. in Economics required, it aptly presents the situation for what it is—with no easy answers, while steering clear of the blatant and vapid money-worship of older financial thrillers like Wall Street. The characters are fallible and complex—some are American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman-esque, some, like Kevin Spacey’s character, are downright likable. In other words, it takes the fairly dehumanized version of the investment banker bad guy and at least attempts to explore him, even though humanization, redemption, or understanding is not exactly easy to come by either.

Fashion: District

My review of fashion: district for Brightest Young Things:

Saturday’s fashion: District was a vibrant testament to the creativity, vitality, and relevance of DC’s fashion scene. Much akin to the much-maligned, non-existent DC hip hop scene, many would not exactly conflate DC and a fashion hub. ReadySetDC have single-handedly put DC fashion on the map, showcasing designers that are not only visionaries but who put out high-caliber, professional work well-deserving of the couture label. Plainly-put, it is not every day that you find yourself feeling like you are in Pret-A-Porter or The September Issue in the middle of DC and ReadySetDC are the ones who made it happen with such panache and flair.

Ginger Root Design were a true breath of fresh air with vintage-inspired, smart and original designs. Perfecting the art of upcycling [making something new out of something already in existence], the style was equally parts London-esque, tweed-and-zipper chique and something that Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary would wear. Zooey Deschanel/Manic Pixie Girl would definitely rock Ginger Root! Their designs were funky yet not groan-inducingly, self-referentially hipsterish.The colors were bold yet the patterns were not busy and relied more on a blocks rather than smashing of patterns approach.As the only designer to use “normal-sized” models, it was apparent that while Ginger Root make high-end fashion, their clothes were designed with a more pragmatic brush stroke and with at least some concern for practicality.Their menswear collection was particularly enthralling with two of the more memorable outfits being a tweed jacket with a zipper slicing a diagonal across the front and three leather straps as a closure and gingham shirt under a vest with a three-layered tie composed of overlapping triangles. The vest had a horizontal band of gray silk on the back, making for an extremely interesting layered visual effect.

Espion presented a really unique line of high-end evening couture. Some of the dresses were a really innovative mash-up of dominatrix meets Greek-goddess evening gown elegance. If you can imagine Athena channeling Madonna during the Blonde Ambition tour, you would get a pretty accurate idea. Other dresses were extremely regal—white and made of a stretchy material for a very sophisticated look.

Hugh & Crye delivered a very trendy men’s business wear line—it was solid and respectable and more than a little style. Artaya relied heavily on black, red, and white blocky ensembles with a nod to interesting textures.

SaintCHIC’s style was street-savvy yet high-fashion.For example, a lot of the skirts and pants relied on a “mummy” technique—they were comprised of overlapping-“bandages”/swaths of fabric.Definitely very unique and clever, and maybe a bit inspired by elements in industrial-scene wear which has been using straps on men-skirts for a good while now.The tops show-cased really layered framing necklines with a vaguely graffiti-esque feel that was equally parts hip-hop-dancer-sassy and classy.

Sika’s designs screamed creativity.Some of the fabrics had traditional African prints; some were very Asian.There were daringly plunging necklines and wee little bottom pieces, with bold colors such as orange and batik-like prints.Anthropologie would have been jealous!

Durkl’s line this season was downright underwhelming, at worst, and incredibly confusing, at best, especially considering how well-established and popular their line is.I think I was not alone in my luke-warm response to the fall collection, but maybe like the Post, I just don’t get it.At times, it seemed like they were channeling men’s wear circa Gap 1980, at other times, it seemed like their colors were literally popsicle- inspired [think patterns ala those fourth of July garish blue and red ones].

Derringer Friday deserve credit for figuring out how to make men’s ties swagger-worthy [common, it’s not an easy job]. Having female models strut around only in men’s shirts and thigh-high boots to “Ain’t Nuthin’ But A G Thing” will do that. Their end-of-the-show drinking-a-beer signature gimmick was also interesting, if a little befuddling. Oh, yeah—the ties were great too.

Fashion: District was a perfect mix of flair, swagger, style, finesse, and hard work and definitely an all-around rollicking good time.

Ladytron Concert Review

My review of the Ladytron show on October 11, 2011 at the 9:30 Club for Brightest Young Things:

Liverpool-based Ladytron’s electrifying show at the 9:30 Club was exactly what one would expect from a band that literally started the electroclash movement and heavily influenced an entire generation of bands like Empire Of The Sun, Holy Ghost, Royksopp, Yelle, and Client, to name a few…and practically the entirely neo-electro movement, in truth. It would not be an exaggeration to put Ladytron’s legacy near New Order’s—you know you have longevity in the flash-in-pan electro scene when you can release a greatest hits album of ten years, like Ladytron has. While some of their contemporaries like Miss Kittin and Felix Da Housecat and the electroclash movement as a whole lost its luster in the pop-music zeitgeist, Ladytron continued their reign by consistently putting out excellent albums. A decade-long career and five stellar album releases later, Ladytron proved equally relevant and original [stodgy “forefather” label be damned] as when they first introduced their synth-driven electropop sound.
Since the days of Kraftwerk, it is no big secret that it’s pretty hard to make knob-twiddling and keyboard-button-pushing sexy or particularly thrilling live—it’s the nature of the beast when it comes to electronica. Ladytron’s live show, however, was a really interesting mix of light and well…magic. The band and a well-executed light show were the only components yet they proved more than ample. Lead vocalist Helen Marnie was channeling some sort of a Princess Leia-meet choirgirl-meet nun white get-up, while Mira Aroyo resembled a beautiful porcelain doll. The combined effect was something best described as “demure/pneumatic babydoll chique.” They weren’t going for “sexy” but it was mannequin hot nevertheless—thrilling you with chillness?
The band opened with “Ghosts,” “International Dateline” [whose refrain, “International dateline; let’s end it here” was particularly modern and apropos in its sentiment] and with a new song called “Mirage” off their September-released album, Gravity The Seducer. Helen Marnie was doing the majority of the vocals, in a Jane Birkin-esque lilt, which isn’t always the case on their albums where the two vocalist share in their efforts. It wasn’t until “True Mathematics” that Mira Aroyo stepped away from her very concerted synth-operating duties to deliver an adorably-cute Bulgarian nursery-rhyme vocal on the song. As a fellow countrywoman, there is no doubt that Mira is, by FAR, the coolest and greatest Bulgarian export, period—and no, don’t groan about how there are no other Bulgarian exports! It is especially endearing that so many of the Bulgarian lyrics she sings are all either snippets from old folk rhymes or are very haiku-esque and sparse, yet she delivers them in this brilliant stern-detached-school-marm-way that works so perfectly. No wonder the Bulgarian contingent in the audience last night chanted, “Mira, ti si super!” [Mira, you are the best!].
The energy continued to build with Ladytron’s performance of their hits—“Runaway,” “Ace Of Hz” [both off their more recent releases], “Discotraxx,” and “Seventeen.” The song’s “They only want you when you are 17, when you are 21, you are no fun,” was a cheeky commentary on the length of the pop culture attention span nowadays. They also performed “White Elephant” off the new album and “Little Black Angel” from their greatest hits album. The show ended with a raucous performance of “Destroy Everything You Touch” that was especially apropos—sonic destruction of awesomeness abounded.
The show was a testament to what has kept Ladytron going through an entire decade with such sustained success—their music might be machine-made but it has always remained organic and melodic despite its method of creation. While knob-twiddling and button-pushing has become the norm, they’ve always kept their hand on the human pulse.

Kollaboration DC: A Kaleidoscope Of Talent Shines

I covered this show for The Vinyl District.

By Toni Tileva | September 19, 2011 |

Kollaboration DC’s annual concert was a dazzling showcase of talent that transcended genre boundaries and shattered preconceptions.

Founded eleven years ago, Kollaboration is an Asian-American non-profit organization whose motto, “empowerment through entertainment” truly embodies its ethos—to present the public with positive, and more importantly, accurate images of Asian-Americans.

While community empowerment is integral to its mission, the entertainment aspect weighs equally heavily in the equation, to the benefit of anyone who has ever attended any of Kollaboration’s musical events. Saturday’s show at the University of The District of Columbia was a well-organized, rollicking affair, whose contest format did not in any sense harken of dreaded American Idol overtones or, even worse, stereotypical talent show fodder—because everyone in it was ridiculously talented.

University of Maryland’s classical Indian dance troupe Moksha delivered a Mahabharata-in-motion, thunderous, ebullient routine. It was traditional, yet it was modern. It was classical, yet it was avant-garde. It was definitely breathtaking.

There were genre-mashups galore—Phillip Chang proved equally adept at piano, singing, and b-boy moves. Alec Zhang and Emily Barnes danced an ethereal waltz. Chip Han’s beat-boxing sounded turntable-enviable. Lionz of Zion, a local break-dancing crew, which includes Geoffrey “ToyzRUs” Chang, roared forth with a stunning, gravity-be-damned routine. Local rapper Sickboi, and fellow MC Lyricks, are definitely putting Virginia hip-hop on the map.

Kollaboration DC was a true celebration of spirit and community and, ultimately, a reminder that talent grows and flourishes even in the often-described-as-stodgy Washington DC.

Asian Female Emcees Amaze At UHall

I covered this show for The Vinyl District.
July 19, 2011

Sulu DC’s Saturday showcase Miss Fortune: Spotlight on AAPI Women in Hip-Hop was a vibrant celebration of the true ethos of hip hop: community.

Funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities and presented in conjunction with a number of community partners including Kollaboration DC, it was a tightly-run, eclectic showcase of talent that shattered stereotypes and expectations. If the only Asian MC you can name is Jin, you should have been at this show because while the artists were, yes, female, and yes, Asian-American, their viewpoints and styles were illustrative of the fact that these reductionistic labels are not keys to the grand creative milieu.

As spoken word artist and the show’s MC, Kelly Tsai put it, being a feminist and listening to most hip-hop often requires “selective listening” skills. As good fortune would have it, all you needed at this show was an open mind and open ears. The show was about girl power without being about girl power [the commercial version].

Sulu DC’s event was subversive by its very nature—where else can you go nowadays to hear Queen Latifah and Monie Love played [as spun by Sulu resident DJ The Pinstriped Rebel]!? The female artists took “Asian-American” and “female” from disenfranchised to identity-affirming, and all with a positive, uplifting stroke of the pen. It was definitely a “U.N.I.T.Y.” moment if there ever was one.

Spoken-word artist Kelly Tsai opened the show with her powerful piece “Real Women I Know” and kept the festivities moving with flair and comedic panache.

Kickrocks Crew, a local dance troupe, performed a hip-hop dance medley and got the crowd amped.

The true scene stealers of the show were a violin-and-MC sister duo from Brooklyn, Misnomer(S). Their powerhouse, raucous performance turned the oh-so-familiar cultural cliché of the violin-playing Asian kid on its head and then some. Knewdles and SOS’ natural synergy was palpable and single-handedly nudged the strings-and-hip hop paradigm out of its slumber [especially if P. Diddy’s cheesetastic tunes are what you are thinking of right now].

Knewdles described the theme of Misnomer(S)’ music as “identity”—the duo opened with the thought-provoking “For What It’s Worth,” which Knewdles explained was originally a piece that won her second-place in a slam poetry contest and first got her interested in MCing. “I was a poet before I was an emcee and I studied poetry in college.” She cites fellow Brooklynite Biggie as one of her major influences. “For What It’s Worth” could well be the anthem of the dual-identity generation—as an immigrant myself, Knewdles’ frustration with constantly being asked “no, where are you *really* from” and other equally inane off-shoots as “go back to your own country” [which, in her case, is America-doh!] rings especially true. Misnomer(S)’ music is refreshingly devoid of braggadocio and focused on relatable themes: living and working. In fact, their song “Worker Bee,” is one of the cleverest takes I have heard on the drone aspect of working to live and living to work, complete with smart references to Asian exploitation and the Chinese building railroads.

Knewdles’ passionate delivery, clearly well-honed from her stint in the slam circuit, inflects their music with a creative, indelibly feminine cadence and makes the duo really stand out in the indie hip hop circuit, along with fellow New Yorkers like Cool Calm Pete. If anything, it showcases that being confrontational and in-your-face is not requisite for delivering a social message or having something of value to say.

The show closed out with headliner Rocky Rivera, a seasoned MC from the Bay Area, who rapped like she had been at this for eons—with a professional, precise delivery that most male MCs would have been envious of, especially when one considers how hard it is to sound live like one sounds on record [have you ever been to a Wu Tang concert? Yeah, about that…]. With tons of swagger and style, Rocky evoked the golden days of Lil’ Kim. Her performance of “La Madrina” and “Married To The Hustle” got the crowd properly hyped.

SuluDC have artist showcases every month—definitely support their upcoming events!

CREEP-None More Noir

My feature on CREEP at The Vinyl District Blog

Brooklyn production duo CREEP sound like the lovechild of She Wants Revenge and Poe, with some of The xx and Garbage thrown in for good measure. You can finally feel good about breaking out the dark eyeliner and gothing out without having to reassure yourself and others that you are being meta, tongue-in-cheek, or subversive about it, and you are not really a [closet] Goth. [Is there such a thing as a non-closet Goth, btw?] Well, raise the black flag, my friends, and trash that VNV Nation record because CREEP are here to meet all of your needs.

CREEP are producers/DJs Lauren Flax and Lauren Dillard. Flax is an internationally-renowned house DJ and producer—one of her bigger recent hits was “You’ve Changed” with Sia on vocals. Her experience as Fischerspooner’s tour DJ clearly lends itself well to CREEP’s creepy synth-driven sensibilities, but the group’s sound is indelibly ethereally beautiful even through the cold mechanics of a foundation.

CREEP’s spectral debut single “Days” featuring The xx’s Romy Madley-Croft came out earlier this year. The refrain of “Are you thinking the same things I do?/ I been thinking about me and you/ My nights are turning into days/ But I don’t know since everything changed” is really descriptive of the ethos of CREEP’s music. Nights turn into days, dreamscapes unfold, miasmas shimmer in and out, lost souls find and lose each other, love and loss are different sides of the same coin. There is lots of smoke and mirrors, and reality is too tenuous to look for.

The follow-up “You” is a stunning showcase of R&B superstar twins Nina Sky’s interweaving vocals. The video, under the genius direction of Thalia Mavros, could not be a more apt visual piece for the song. If there ever was a video that lives and breathes chiaroscuro, this is it. Shadows fall away and take over—what is black or white, is there even an answer… Faces fade in and out. You will probably notice some very Shining-esque shots and maybe even an homage to Asian horror. Either way—it’s hypnotic, sinister, and terribly engrossing.

DFA’s Planningtorock recently released the remix of “You.” Check it out and get the MP3 where it premiered on RCRD LBL .

Don’t let the upcoming full-length release creep up on you—the record will grab you with a vengeance.

Tokimonsta Feature

I have started writing for the Vinyl District blog! Check out my first feature–Tokimonsta.

Trip hop has long been a turntablist’s game, even if the most obvious examples you can think of are Geoff Barrow’s scratching on Portishead’s “Only You” or the seminal DJ Shadow Endtroducing. In the early 2000s, artists like DJ Krush, RJD2, Nujabes, and DJ Vadim continued to carry the torch, despite public opinion that “trip hop was dead” or relegated to Buddha Bar compilations. It is in this vein that LA-based producer TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee) makes her pastiche of beats and samples.
Tokimonsta cut her teeth on a myriad of fresh remixes with a signature sound—anything from Tweet’s “Call Me,” to Lykke Li’s “Little Bit” and Telepopmusik’s “Breathe.” She released a ton of mixtapes and toured, paying some major dues in the process. Her diminutively adorable moniker terribly apt, Tokimonsta is a Godzilla on the wheels of steel and clearly knows more than a thing or two about crate-digging, scratching, and creating really naturally flowing sample soundscapes.
The Creature Dreams EP finds Tokimonsta on an even more consistent course with her sound than her last full-length album, 2010’s Midnight Creatures. “Bright Shadows,” “Little Pleasures,” and “Darkest[Dim]“ are three of the standout tracks on the EP, and they feature singer Gavin Turek. “Day Job” is another equally beautiful track—as a whole, the album is consistent in its excellence and is very un-California-esque in that it’s late-night listening alright. It is not a dark record—it’s maybe moderately melancholy in its dusty vinyl ambiance, but it is easily one of the best and most consistently “trip hop” albums to come out in recent years. Definitely worth a spin!

DC Muslim Film Fest 2011

DC Muslim Film Fest 2011

The Muslim Film Festival held in Washington, D.C. from April 19th to 27th, 2011 and organized by the American Islamic Congress and Project Nur presents a diverse group of five films under the general rubric of Generation: Muslim. Considering the fact that an estimated 65% of the world Muslim population is under the age of 30, the films embody a youthful, vibrant ethos and offer a glimpse into a world that is quite removed from the plucked-from-the-headlines “angry young Arab man” stereotype—simply put, they show that subversive is not equal to “angry mob.” The protagonists in the films break dance, play in indie rock bands, paint graffiti, throw punk rock shows and, in general, provide quite refreshing, nuanced, and trenchant answers to the question of what it means to be a Muslim. To an audience bombarded with images of the Islamic world’s troubled relationship with Western culture, the Muslim Film Festival paints a picture of diversity and narrates how Islam fits and lives within the social fabric of Western settings.

The 2009 Cannes Film Festival Special Jury Prize selection No One Knows About Persian Cats explores the difficulties Iranian youth face in trying to produce and perform rock music—it’s a breathless expose on a cat-and-mouse game but the movie does not take on a fatalistic, cynical view of that. If anything, it shows that even under repressive regimes, there is such a strong undercurrent of creativity—case in point, Iran has metal and indie rock bands, too, and even Sufi musicians who have to record their music underground.

The Tunisian Making Of is an interesting meta-approach-taking film-within-a-film about the making of a film about the radicalization of youth. It frames in a rather innovative way the question of just how that could take place.

The 2010 Oscar Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film Un Prophete, screening on Wednesday, April 27, is a tour-de-force thriller of a young Muslim man’s experience in a French prison and his alliance with the Corsican mob.

The 2010 Sundance Film Festival selection The Taqwacores, directed by Eyad Zahra, depicts the electrifying underground subculture of Muslim punk-rockers in Buffalo, NY. Based on the Michael Muhammad Knight’s 2003 cult novel The Taqwacores, the movie does an incredible job of portraying the ultimate in-your-face punch of the mashing of two “counter-mainstream-cultural,” if you will, phenomena—being punk and being Muslim in America. Zahra’s direction is superb in showing us that the characters in the movie are not on some contrived faux-rebellion tip against society—if anything, they are simply living only as they know how and accepting in a sort of resigned, almost cynical way that simply being who they are by definition makes them subversive. As the pink-mohawked guitarist Jehangir (Dominic Rains) puts it, he is the embodiment of “mismatching of disenfranchised subcultures.”

In addition to the absolutely stunning cinematography [the movie’s cadence is really unique and true to its ’80s zine-punk aesthetic], the cast of characters is thrilling to watch—there is shy Yusef (Bobby Naderi), an engineering student, ever- angry, moral-enforcing straight-edger Umar (Nav Mann), and Rabeya (Noureen DeWulf), a burqa-wearing feminist-of-sorts, whose attire baffles even her roommates but who Jehangir simply sums up as “must be the kind of girl who reads in a burqa.” When Jehangir decides to put on a punk show, hosting Muslim punk bands from “Khalifornia,” [the soundtrack of the movie features those real bands, btw], things get ugly in a good and bad [punk] sense. The Taqwacores is also full of clever, funny dialogue such as Jehangir’s description of the chastity battle as a “jihad against my nuts.” Ultimately, the theme is that even through the rebellion and struggle, there is an ever present thread of faith and spirituality–“Allah is too big and too open for my Islam to be small and closed.”

Director Eyad Zahra commented that, “I was not certain that this film would be ‘Islamically-accepted’ but there has been no negative response to it. It has seen nothing but good.” If there is any message, he expounded, it is that “the Muslim community is wide and diverse.” The paradigm of “big tent” underscores the very pluralistic nature of Islam and the DC Muslim Film Fest’s film selections showcase both the struggles and triumphs of being Muslim in a modern context. The take-away message from the Festival was that through the struggle of defining one’s identity in a subcultural vs. mainstream sense and even with the difficulty of discrimination and repression, the “performance” of a Muslim identity takes many different forms and in the process raises a series of incredibly interesting questions.

Happythankyoumoreplease Review

Happythankyoumoreplease Review
The title of “Happythankyoumoreplease” is quite apropos — you will leave the theater grateful and wanting more of its offbeat charm. If you are already groaning at the prospect of yet another contrived indie rom-com à la “500 Days Of Summer” or the movie version of “Friends” or the millennials’ answer to “Singles,” you will find yourself pleasantly surprised.
In “Happythankyoumoreplease,” director, writer and star Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”) forgoes the hipper-and-more-clever-than-thou approach in favor of an unassuming, natural dialogue and genuinely likable characters. And if there is such a thing as a New York “vibe,” the movie captures it spot-on.
The lead character, Sam (Radnor), is an aspiring novelist on the way to a meeting with a publisher who meets a boy named Rasheen (Michael Algieri) who gets separated from his family on the train. As a plot vehicle, Rasheen and Sam’s relationship is meant to assure us of Sam’s inherent goodness despite his ne’er-do-well, seemingly rakish lifestyle, delivering some of the more heart-warming, cute lines in the movie.
For example, Sam labels his suburban angst-free childhood as hardly “Dickensian” or conducive to writing the great American novel. Or when Sam discovers Rasheen’s art talents, he laughs at Rasheen’s drawing of him as a “dashing Russian aristocrat.” These sort of exchanges abound and make the movie terribly endearing with a low cheese factor.
The other characters are equally compelling. Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend Charlie (Pablo Schreiber), who try to decide whether or not to move to Los Angeles, which Mary calls the “epicenter of all that is awful.” Sam’s best friend Annie (Malin Akerman) is bemoaning her unfortunate choice in men, (dating “29-year-old 12-year-olds”) when she meets a seemingly dorky co-worker who seems to constantly hang out on her floor at work because “philanthropic giving is the cool place to be.”
Annie tells this story of an Indian cab driver-would-be-guru who advises her that a good way to perpetuate more gratitude in the universe is to simply say, “Thank you. More please.” Albeit hokey as far as mantras go, it’s veritable enough for hippie-esque Annie, who in the end gets over her abysmal dating streak and allows herself to be wooed by the uncool Sam #2.
Then, there is Sam’s love interest, waitress and cabaret singer Mississippi (Kate Mara), whose refusal to sleep with Sam due to her New Year’s avowal to “not be a whore” leads to their impossibly-cute three-day-stand/move-in session, complete with a hand-written contract and key exchange.
The characters in “Happythankyoumoreplease” feel very realistic with no tacked-on, contrived idiosyncrasies for entertainment’s sake. It’s definitely a feel-good movie, but not in a mawkish, fake sense. In the end, the characters all end up working through their various conflicts, but the resolutions are not fanciful and unrealistic.