Sunday, February 28, 2010

At the movies....


Every year, some dear friends get together to watch the Oscars (or more accurately, look at all the sparkly attire and make fun of the fashion disasters.) Although I don't tend to be overly competitive, this addition of a ballot and voting has switched on my competitive OCD and I MUST watch each and every nominee even if all they only were nominated in the Best Song catagory.

So, this weekend I went to the AMC Oscar Showcase. I have been attending these since AMC started doing them and I always have a great time in spite of the hours of sitting that are required. This year, because the Oscars now have 10 nominees, AMC has split the movies between two weekends. Unfortunately, that means that my group of 10+ friends who spent the day with me last year decided not to do it again this year. Luckily a small group still joined me for week #1. Next weekend I will attend alone. (I think)

Avatar
was surprising good and in fact, I got a little teary during the tragically romantic parts. The dialog and story were clunky and could have used some work but the cinematography was out-of-this world. Even if you are not a SF geek, I suggest you try to make time to see this one. This just wouldn't be the same on a small screen and the idea that this might change the way movies are made is not as outlandish as I previously thought. This should be a shoo-in for all of the cinematography and special effects Oscar awards.

Up in the Air
was an interesting choice for an Oscar nomination. It was the polar opposite of Avatar. The movie is set primarily in airports, hotels and offices and the gray tonality of the film matched George Clooneys characters personality. It was interesting to explore the idea of losing the baggage and people from your life and reducing your life to a suitcase and a hotel room. This would be a good one to rent since this is a movie more about ideas than action and aventure. No big screen theatrics are needed to explore ideas about what makes a life worth living.

Precious was good but exceptionally grim. I had already seen this movie and thought this held up well with a second viewing. It is definitely a movie that celebrates literacy as a way out of an awful situation and made me want to go to Literacy Kansas City to sign up to be a tutor. Realistically, with the part-time job I would have very little time to spend two or three days a week tutoring but someday it will be on my ever expanding to-do wish list.

The Blind Side was not a movie I was looking forward to since I get very grumpy when I have to sit through a movie designed to play on my sympathies in overly sentimental ways but in spite of myself, I was charmed. I would love to have to the courage to take a stranger into my home and immediately treat them like family. This is worth watching for the feel good factor but in my opinion, not really a viable Oscar contender.

Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino at his best. Certainly it was bloody but it entertaining as only he can be. This rewrite of Hitler's WWII felt completely fresh and new and even if it was a work of complete fiction, it was nice to see the Jewish people fight back. Tarantino is not for everyone but if you can stand the violence, it was a spectacular movie.

Other movies I watched this week:

In the Loop - An Office-type movie in a British political setting. I should have liked this better than I did but I ended up getting distracted and wandering off a lot. Maybe it would have played better on the big screen for me.

Bright Star - Romance between poet John Keats and next door neighbor Fanny. Interesting setting and time period but I could not for the life of me see why she would fall for him other than his romantic poetical demeanor. This was directed by the same woman who directed The Piano, another movie with "romantic" elements I failed to appreciate.

The Cove
- a scathing diatribe against the dolphin entertainment industry and Japan for encouraging the fishing of dolphins. Not a balanced look, but a passionate one and for anyone who loves animals and finds dolphins appealing, this is a horrifying and radicalizing look at a practice that is deadly for dolphins and humans alike.

Paris 36
- I haven't cared much for any of the more musical offerings this year and this movie was no exception. In spite of the main character's rather sad life, apparently the driving force for the plot, I couldn't bring myself to care that much about the characters or want to know what was going to happen next. I do tend to like French movies but this one just didn't do it for me.

The White Ribbon
- my movie watching friend loathed this one but I found it to be oddly compelling. I had originally thought this would be a horror movie but instead it was a study of "man's inhumanity toward man". It was very dark and dour and very, very German. I do wonder if I would have stuck with it if I had been watching it at home on DVD however.

The Young Victoria
- I liked this one very much in spite of its rather slow pace. It made me want to find some good biographies on the the couple and find out if the movie accurately represented this rather charming love story.

3 comments:

edh said...

You are soooo diplomatic. "Jewish people fight back" indeed! Tarantino is so meta :D

Do you see me? said...

How did I miss this AMC thing when I live in KC? dang. I would definately spend two days watching Oscar nominees! Thanks for posting.

Catherine VandeVelde said...

It was good to see you on Saturday. I agree with all your Oscar notes. I am still having a hard time with Precious. It really bothered me. It makes me feel like there's more I need to be doing to help these kids.

I agree that Blind Side was much better than I expected.

I know so many women don't want to see Inglourious Basterds because of the violence, but I think it's well worth watching. Thoroughly entertaining, the acting is excellent if rather kitschy ... which is how I believe it was intended. And, it was refreshing, indeed, to see Jews kickin' some you-know-what.