The Bucket List was on Friday night and I watched 90% of it (missing the first 10%). I did not take anything out of it really. Then two nights ago WIT was on with Emma Thompson as a professor who is stricken with ovarian cancer (which took a law school friend of mine a number of years ago). If you want to see a movie about a cancer survivor, with months to live then the more realistic movie is Wit, and you also get more out of it. That was Ebert’s point on the Bucket List. Heck Terms of Endearment deals with it more realistically too, and is a better vehicle for Nicholson. So it is with eager anticipation that I look forward to a night out at the movies. Another movie to add to the list to see will be the new Winslet/DiCaprio film (Revolutionary Road). I did watch Mamma Mia the other night too. It was decent. I had seen the play. Pierce Brosnan should stay away from singing anything ever again. Streep I guess because she is who she is (one of the greatest living actresses) gets this role, but I think that there are better singers available here. The scenery is excellent and is a nice travel brochure for Greece. This movie (and play for that matter) turns on the song “The Winner Takes It All” and Streep handles it effectively. The stage version was even better I felt.
So this week was one of those rare occasions that I actually had a chance to go out and see a REAL movie at a REAL movie theatre. The movie: Changeling. The Theatre: Colossus. It was a fairly busy night on Saturday to see the 7:10 show, yes, although I am an adult I still have a 4 yo who needs to get to his bed after a long day. Ex-wife had really wanted to see this one, and it turns out her sister and her husband saw the same movie at a different theatre on Saturday. I enjoyed this movie and the performances. As an actor I think it would be hard to take on the Jolie role here as you are constantly being asked to get emotional and tear up. It would be a difficult shoot for her. As a storyline, I liked the arc and where it went. I was surprised at a couple of the turns. It is more disturbing to see that this is a true story, and that there was an continues to be tremendous powers in the police force. Unfortunately all of the bad stories seem to come out of the LAPD. But I have little doubt other such stories exist elsewhere at the same time. I had a couple of questions for this film however, like how does a single woman with a child manage to get a mortgage for a house in 1928? I saw no family to speak of to help her out or co-sign for the mortgage. Presumably if your child disappeared, you would have parents and others for support. I further noted the one gaff in the print where it was evident that Angelina’s tattoo (one of many) on her back was clearly visible. I will not go further into this story than to say that I think that Clint Eastwood in his latter years is putting together an impressive body of work. Jolie has a very good performance here and could likely garner some Academy support for it. I would not be disappointed if she did. This story incidentally brings forth a notion that I have always maintained in that there have always been freaks and ‘bad people’ but in older times we were not so aware of them. Yet again, southern California has been home to a number of them. By sheer population increase alone (California has as many people as in all of Canada), we would have more of these freaks, but it is not to say that our children are in any more danger or any safer than before. Missing children and the attitude surrounding them has undergone some change with Amber alerts and the like, but there is still that feeling in police departments I suspect that searching for a young child is not a top priority. As a parent, this is disconcerting.
Atonement: Saw this movie last night. I had no sympathy for the young girl whatsoever, and thought her simply to be a precocious bitch who thought she knew more than the rest of them. Without any sympathy (and frankly I didn’t like her at all, and would rather give her a spanking than anything else) this movie falls apart in the end. Yes, you can understand where it goes, but you’re not really satisfied with the result. This movie jumps around a lot as well. I really had no idea what buddy was doing in WWII, where he was (yes he was in France, but what was this pull out?) I might have my dates wrong and he was there at the beginning of the war when the Germans took over without firing a shot, as opposed to DDay and the return. Even so, how did he get injured? Was there NO medical attention? To me, there was no atoning for what was done, in the least, and simply writing about it isn’t nearly enough. I would like it if movie directors would get back to telling stories in a linear fashion rather than bouncing around between times and places. This movie with all the other nominated films again showed me that this was indeed a weak year. A movie like Saving Private Ryan or Chinatown that lost out on an Oscar for Best Picture would have won this year in a landslide.
As for movies, I saw Enchanted on the plane on the way back home and it was okay. A fun story that my 10yo daughter would enjoy. I liked Stardust better, but maybe that was because I like Claire Danes a little better than Amy Adams. I am not really a Dempsey fan. I also finished watching Gone Baby Gone on the flight over. When I got back home I watched Knocked Up, which was not really very funny. There were a couple of decent laughs but nothing that made me roll on the floor. The scene were she tells him that she is pregnant – now THAT was funny with his reaction! However, NOT in this lifetime would Seth EVER get to be in bed with Heigl here. It just doesn’t happen except in movies and TV. Ugly fat dudes who are unshaven and act like children get to date Roseann Barr and not supermodels.
So I had a chance to catch a couple flicks over the long weekend. I saw Rendition which to me was only average. Not much of a stretch performance for Reese Witherspoon, and it seemed everyone involved had little ‘skin in the game’ to help out the poor sap who was taken away and imprisoned for questioning. I find it interesting that they hint that there is always a US observer for the interrogation sessions involving nasty torture. These are (sometimes) their own people getting tortured like this. This has a good cast (Meryl Streep too) but it does not show you the end result and whether this practice has stopped. I suspect somehow that it continues. Where’s the due process? Where is the trial amongst peers and being able to face your accuser? The “home of the free” takes another beating in the guise of national security. I hardly think of the Jake character as a hero, who simply has his job on the line that he really can’t seem to stomach anyway.
Last night it was No Country for Old Men. A disappointment to put a word on it. There was a build up here for a really good battle between the headstrong dude (Brolin) looking to keep his ill-gotten booty, and the mindless automaton (terminator-like killer) looking to exact some revenge, but then it all fizzles out. Harrelson dies limply. Brolin who looked to be ready and preparing himself for a kick ass battle just ends up dead, and you have a closing speech by Jones as the retired cop, and Spanish buddy (Javier Bardem) walking away with a broken arm from a senseless crash in his car. I had expected more. Is this really the Best Picture of the year?! Sad to say that if it is, then it was indeed a lean year. Funnily, no sooner had Tommy Lee Jones’ faces gone black off the screen did my ex-Wife jump out of her chair and say “Is that it?!” It pissed her off to no end, and she claimed this is why she doesn’t like the Oscars. Because of the above, I tend to agree with her on this one. And Spanish buddy (Bardem) wins a Best Supporting role here. For what?! How many lines did he actually deliver? Is the little discussion with the Texas native in the gas station enough to make that happen? I don’t know but it is disappointing. So I cannot agree on this being a great film. I will accept all arguments to the contrary.
Watched Disturbia last night which was terrible. Basically it’s Rear Window, with some other elements attached like Silence of the Lambs with David Morse playing the bad guy (do bad guys always have mullets?) Carrie Ann Moss was not looking her best. Every suspense cliché going was used here….
I watched American Gangster last night and it was decent, however it was a bit too long, and borrowed a little too heavily from other movies of the genre (notably the Godfather). The ending is a disappointment, as I can’t imagine Vito Corleone or Tony Soprano for that matter ever turning informant on the people around him, especially cops. It just wouldn’t happen in the Italian community I don’t think. There seemed to be a number of threads left open here (like Cuba Gooding and what happened to him). I liked the idea of the most grandly dressed guy being the most insecure and least powerful. In the pre-Serpico days in 1968, I understood how a cop ‘not on the take’ would be an outcast amongst his peers (ex-wife was confused by that). There were some real moral dilemmas that the Crowe character handled probably a little too easily and quickly. Scary too see that 2/3 of the force in narcotics was dirty. I would have liked to have seen some more details on how Lucas manages to get the 2000 keys into coffins and shipped out by the military. The reality is that the military knowingly (or not) contributed significantly to the drug trade. Amazing too that he received only 15 years for his sentence and is back on the street again. You wonder what he is doing other than getting money from his own story in a movie. He seemed like a good business man with all his talk of branding and infringement of his own brand – he should work for Proctor and Gamble.