Sunday, March 07, 2010

Movie Update

This week I finished up every currently available movie that has any kind of Oscar nomination (including best song). As always, there was plenty I didn't get to see but I managed to cover a lot of ground this year.

I made a run to Blockbusters earlier in the week and picked up Food, Inc. and Coco Before Chanel. Since I have been reading so heavily in the area of the environment and the impact large industrial farms are having on communities none of the information in Food, Inc. was particularly new. For those who have not been investigating this issue, the movie may have a profound impact on the way you purchase your food. Every piece of evidence points to the need to support local farmers, especially those who use more traditional farming methods, organic processes and minimal shipping. The major problem with this approach is that buying organic and locally grown is still a luxury for those who have money, not something that everyone can afford. Someday, I hope documentaries like this will change the system enough so that everyone can have equal access to the most healthy foods.

Coco Before Chanel was not a particularly in-depth treatment of Coco Chanel's life during her teens and early twenties but I did like it. Since I didn't know anything about her, I enjoyed the biographical details and the slice-of-life depictions of France during that time period.

I took time off this week to watch some movies only showing during the day and managed to catch the last four still in the theaters. Invictus is the story of how Nelson Mandela used rugby to try to take the first steps to uniting South Africa after the fall of apartheid. The elements of a good underdog sports story are all there and done well but for me, the most fascinating parts of the movie are those that showed Nelson Mandela's struggles as president. Besides, I could watch Morgan Freeman eat soup and still be charmed and entertained. Also, Matt Damon was the character to such an extent that for a good part of the movie I thought he was a South African actor who just happened to look like Matt.

I recruited a friend and her daughter to go with me to The Princess and the Frog which turned out to be a typical Disney and I have to admit I was a little disappointed with this effort. The most fun part of the movie was watching my friends daughter dance around to the admittedly catchy musical offerings.

The Last Station is about the last days of the life of Tolstoy and I love the details about the Tolstoyan movement and how it changed in good and bad ways with the addition of zealots. The dynamics between Tolstoy and his wife felt a little overacted but overall it was an interesting movie.

Jeff Bridges has a lot of guts acting in a movie that made him look like a broken down alcoholic country singer and he did a outstanding job with this role. Crazy Heart was very good, which is saying a lot considering my aversion to country music.

On Saturday I finished up the part 2 of the AMC Oscar Showcase.

Up is my choice for best animated feature of the year. It was touching but not overly sentimental, it had great humor and enough action to keep you interested throughout the movie. Pixar did an outstanding job with this movie.

A Serious Man was an odd movie. It started off pretty well portraying a man whose life is falling apart around him but at about the halfway mark it started to drag and by the end, it had completely derailed. Added to that, it never really explained the opening snippet about the dybbuk and what it had to do with the rest of the movie. Any thoughts on that?

The Hurt Locker is my choice to win the Oscar. It is a strong realistic portrayal of what Iraq is really like and what our soldiers are going through over there. I liked that it presented the story in a relatively unbiased way, telling a story and not beating us overhead with a message. I do think it was an elegantly constructed, finely wrought movie.

An Education is a difficult one for me to assess. I disliked the main character immensely and could not get past the fact that he was, for all intents and purposes, a pedophile. It made it very difficult for me to appreciate the technical aspects of the movie. Having said that, it was a fairly typical British movie.

I saw District 9 on DVD so did not stay to see it on the big screen. For the most part, I enjoyed this but I do feel that a little more work and editing would have turned this into one of the great SF classics. It was good but didn't quite reach the outstanding mark. As a side note, it is a bit distressing to realize how universal the theme of humans destroying anything different or profitable to them is in the movie making business.

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