February 27th, 2012 – Oscar musings

This past week I managed to get to see a couple of films.  One not-so-well known the Canadian Best Foreign Film nominee Monsieur Lazhar.  The other J Edgar.  No luck seeing the Best Picture of the year.  Seems that the Director is rather chummy with his leading lady from the telecast last night.

First comments about the show last night Oscar night.   I enjoyed it.  I had a few laugh out loud moments and I thought that Billy Crystal is a fine host.  He’s funny, he does really good bits with the existing films and he pokes fun without being nasty about it.  The presentation reminded me that I need to see again Bridesmaids.  The clips made me laugh out loud every time.  It was good to see Christopher Plummer win in what was really a Lifetime Achievement Award.   I liked Jonah Hill in Moneyball but had no issue with Plummer (the Canadian) winning!    Early technical awards given to Hugo but the big prizes went to The Artist.  Guess I need to see it.  Meryl won and gave a memorable speech I thought.  17 nominations and yet only 3 wins now from the greatest living actor.  Good to see her acknowledge her husband as she says “you have brought everything WE value into our lives and made them happen” with tears.  Well done.  I also liked the acknowledgement by Plummer to his Wife about the Nobel Peace Prize.  Excellent.  In years when some spouses get forgotten, these are made to shine and Meryl said hers first!   A nice classy touch.
Back to the movies.  Friday was Lazhar at the Bell Lightbox Theatre that I have never been to.  Very nice digs, more adult.  A bar and some restaurants at street level and then theatres more like a viewing than cement bunker.  The movie, unknown to me before my law school friend suggested seeing it was set in a Montreal classroom.  During recess one Winter’s day a female teacher hangs herself and a student finds her.  There is scrambling to hide this from the rest of the class (Grade 6).  The rest of the movie introduces us to the substitute teacher who is from Algeria and seeking asylum in Canada.  There are really good performances from the students here, and couple notably.  Plenty of emotion and some parents getting upset, and then the kids’ perspective and take on the whole thing.   This is a good story, well told.  Sorry that it did not win last night, but I had heard good things about The Separation as well.
Yesterday I watched J Edgar on DVD with my brother and his girlfriend.  This of course is the tale of the head of the FBI.  Funny that my mind always jumps back to Agent Starling in Silence of the Lambs and her desire to work work for the Bureau, and her ambition.  Here is the guy who started it all.   This movie jumps around a lot from end of life, to middle to early days.  Watch Leo’s hair and make up to keep track.  There are flashbacks and forward shots sometimes in the same sequence (like going up and down and elevator or sitting at the race track).  There is background into his relationship with his Mother, the heavy handed and opinionated Mother that shaped his life.  Another strong female influence again much like Howard Hughes played earlier by Leo in The Aviator.  I think that the movie makes some excellent points about the life of this man, with both his personal life and his professional life.  Without a doubt, he is a well accomplished man creating a bureau from nothing.  But some of the foundations and how he wishes to be remembered are shaky.  There is much that lies beneath the surface and that is not shown here but hinted.  The relationship with Tolson was not a focal point.  In truth I would think that the real book about Hoover that could be written would be by his assistant, played by Naomi Watts.   She was with him for virtually his entire career.  A good movie.  I enjoyed it and even had a couple chuckles with my brother.  If you think about the FBI and investigating crimes and subversive behaviour and anti-American activities, you wonder how the assassinations of both Kennedys and MLK take place under his watch.  Violent times I suppose.   No hint here about whether the FBI knew or was involved.  Knowledge of the FBI of the extra marital affairs for sure, including wire taps in Kennedy’s suite for a tryst.
Two good films that I am glad that I saw.

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