Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Wherein I drone on and on about movies

Also known as "Wherein my husband waits for the next post - surely to be about his children again."

The Oscar party is a mere 5 days away and once again, I've made it. Even though they threw a wrench in it by doubling the playing field, I've been able to catch all TEN Best Picture nominations. And here are my scattered thoughts on them:

Sometimes it's hard being completely unbiased about a movie and to just judge it on its own merit. This is one of those movies for me. For one thing, I don't like James Cameron. I can't completely put my finger on why but I don't. I think some of it is his cockiness. I think deep down he thinks he's King of the World when it comes to movie-making and he's just not. For another thing, this is not my genre. Not even one little bit. And for a third thing, I'm not the biggest fan of 3D. Give me a good story with character development rather than 3D or special effects. And so I'm a little bit stuck giving this movie a fair review but I'll try. When it comes to being lost in another world this movie rates quite high. When it comes to special effects this movie also rates quite high. When it comes to movies that stay with me for a long period of time this one rates quite low. I think I'd already begotten to forget about it by the time we reached our car. The storyline is sub-par at best.

The Hurt Locker
Another one that is tricky to rate entirely on its own merit. A lot of things come in to play when rating this movie. 1. It's directed by a female. That has got me enraptured - a female directing a GOOD war movie? Wow. A female that was able to bring across the testosterone filled army boys' personalities? Good for you. 2. This was the last movie on our Movie Day extravaganza. I was tired and my back was sore from sitting all day. And yet, it caught my attention. That's something in my mind. The main reason this movie would be in my Top 5 of 2009 though is that it stuck with me LONG after leaving the theatre. There are a few scenes in particular that have stayed with me for nearly 2 months after my initial viewing. The other reason this one rates so highly with me? It was a war movie. In particular a war movie based in the middle east. And YET it was NOT a movie that in any way editorialized wars. You were not leaving the theatre thinking "ra, ra, ra, let's kill those jerks" or alternately "let's never go to war again!". That was not the point of the movie and good for Kathryn for being able to pull that off.

Inglorious Basterds
Theme of this review, hey? Biases for and against directors. I've grown a bit weary of Quentin Tarantino. I used to love his work. Pulp Fiction is up there as one of my favorite movies. It was smart and funny and intense and interesting. But then came Kill Bill. Sigh. I swear, he's keeping some fake blood manufacturer in business. Which, during these financial hard times I suppose should make me feel warm and fuzzy towards him. But, not so much. So, I went into IB with a cynical/skeptical eye. I NEVER would have seen this movie except for my longstanding tradition of seeing all the best picture nominations. And yet, I'm pleased to admit, it surprised me. I honestly felt that he'd moved a bit away from gratuitous violence. There were moments but they were only that, moments. The storyline was intriguing and the characters interesting. And then came one of the final scenes. For those of you who have seen it, you know exactly the scene I'm referring to. Oh Quentin. We get your point. A whole bunch of people die and a bunch of blood is sprayed in various locales. Ooooh, you've NEVER done that before (she says, sarcastically) have you? Pre that scene this movie likely would have rated 7.5/10. Post that scene? Probably about 5.5/10.

Pros: Quite good acting on behalf of the leads in this movie. Cons: Goodness, gracious! I thought this was a true story as I was watching it and I was thinking to myself "what a horrible life this girl has had!". Know what? It's not a true story!! (Yes, that warrants a double exclamation mark that I so abhor.) Which then just makes it a horribly miserable creation out of some author's mind with little to no redeeming value whatsoever. There wasn't even some grace or hope or redemption at the end. Nope, it was just like someone set out to write a story about the very worst life that a young girl could have.

Up in the Air
Pros: I thought this was a smart movie. I found the storyline interesting. I liked that it did not feel it necessary to wrap everything in a nice little bow that is common of Hollywood. Cons: The "What's in Your Backpack?" storyline? Odd. Anna Kendrick an Oscar nomination? Are you kidding me? Her crying scene was painful to watch - and not in a good way. All in all, I MUCH preferred Jason Reitman's previous film Thank You For Smoking.

My favorite part of this story without question was the relationship between the old man and his wife. It delights me still. My least favorite bit? The creepy dogs. This movie was one of my favorite movies from 2009 even though I watched it with an antsy three year-old. That being said, it is neither worthy of a best picture nomination let alone a win.

District 9
Another one of my favorite movies of the past year. There are 2 science fiction movies in the best picture nominations. This one deserves to be there. The special effects were still most impressive and yet the movie cost a whole lot less than Avatar. I was completely intrigued by this movie. I never would have seen it (as I said earlier, sci-fi is not my genre) had it not been nominated for a best picture. And yet I'm just so very glad I did. It is a completely fascinating storyline. The character development? Outstanding but understated. It's completely culturally relevant and yet it doesn't spend its time beating you to death with how you should feel about the aliens and the racism that they experience. Really the only negative thing I can think to say about this movie is that I think it should be mandatory viewing in a junior high or high school classroom as the discussions it could ensue would be timely and interesting. Problem is? It's too violent and there is too much swearing for this to work.

An Education
I loved this movie. I thought Carey Mulligan was outstanding and Alfred Molino and Peter Sarsgaard and Rosamund Pike were also very good. That's really all I have to say about that. I don't think it was the best movie of the year. I don't think it deserves a best picture nomination but I liked it nonetheless. I think in any other year (ie. when there are higher calibre movies and not 10 of them nominated) it would never be in this category. Writing and acting? Yes, possibly. But not best picture.

The Blind Side
Heh? WHATEVER is this movie doing in the best picture category? This movie was not even MENTIONED in any critic's Best Movies of 2009 list. I'm not saying it's a bad movie. No, it's not. In fact, it's the perfect movie to take your mother to on a Saturday afternoon. Even if your mother is a Mennonite lady in her 70s who has never said a curse word in her life. But, it embarrasses me that it now has a best picture nomination and of the movies noted here it is by far and away the most average/most forgettable of the bunch.

A Serious Man
I really have no review of this movie. I really have little to say. I didn't get it and in not getting it I feel rather stupid and embarrassed as it made multiple Top 10 lists of 2009. I wonder, though, if those who rated it in the Top 10 had as much trouble being unbiased as I do. Perhaps they saw that Joel and Ethan Coen made it (they of No Country for Old Men and The Big Lebowski) and automatically put it in the list.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't sure this post would ever end. Please blog about our kids from now on. Thank you.


6:56 AM  
Blogger corrie said...

Well, *I* enjoyed this post immensely (but do appreciate the smile you brought to my face, J-L).

And I'd better go start planning my part for the party!

10:14 AM  
Blogger pamero said...

I'm WAY too lazy to comment and still have 2 movies to watch with only one day left!! But YAY oscars!

And, here's a little poem for JL:
Don't worry, Oscars come but once a year
364 days left to blog about kiddies dear.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pam, I have a poem for you:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Shut it!


4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abby: "Dad, you said 'shut it'. That's not very nice."

4:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home