I Break for Movies

When I want to relax or escape reality, I watch movies. I love to tip back in my recliner with a cookie and cup of tea and immerse myself in the art.

This past week, I watched lots of movies, as a sort of a catch-up before the Oscars. Why do I feel obligated to do that every year?

When I lived in L.A., I watched the entire broadcast of the Academy Awards, from the pre-Oscar, Red Carpet parade of stars to the “Best Picture” award at the end. Do-able, because, on the West Coast, the pre-Oscar show begins at 5:00 p.m., as opposed to 8:00 in the East. The truth is, I watch it more for the couture. I love to see what the actresses are wearing.

This past week, duty-bound, I decided to watch a few of the nominated films: The Social Network, Black Swan, The King’s Speech, The Kids Are Alright (plus, I watched an older, earnest and endearing Indie, Please Give, just for fun) without leaving the privacy of my home. It seems everyone is spreading their germs lately and I’m trying to avoid places where the masses congregate — and cough their brains out. I get enough of that on the subway.

Anyway, these are the movies I watched:

The Social Network — from a Redbox-type dispenser, for a dollar. Suspenseful and intense, sharp script, funny in parts, sometimes creepy (Justin Timberlake’s character), smart performances, especially by Jesse Eisenberg. Except I didn’t like any of the characters, so, not an emotionally moving experience for me. I did admire the film, however, but I probably won’t watch it again.

Here’s a little insider info about the making-of…a friend of mine, a SAG member, told me that the characters of the twin brothers (the guys who accused Zuckerberg of stealing their idea for “The Facebook” [its original name]), were actually played by one actor.

Special Effects people digitally placed the actor’s face on the body of another actor to create his twin — because, as my friend said, it would’ve been too difficult to cast a pair of handsome hunks that looked exactly alike. I learned this tidbit after I saw the film.

Which might warrant a  re-watch.

My take on Black Swan – very watchable, though cringe-inducing, in parts – well, it was kind of like Aronofsky’s earlier film, Requiem for a Dream — in a tutu. Black Swan might be, I think, a homage to Dracula (the Bela Lugosi version, see poster, above).  If you’ve seen that horror classic (and, in my opinion, Black Swan is more of a horror film than anything else), the soundtrack features the music of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, like the Aronofsky film.

Oh, The King’s Speech. Colin Firth, well, what can I say. Have you seen A Single Man? He’s an amazing actor. So nuanced, so handsome, so talented. And Geoffrey Rush and Helene Bonham Carter? Two long time favorites. It’s a beautifully crafted film. I loved it.

The Kids Are Alright…? If you’d like to witness Hollywood patting itself on the back for releasing its version of a “daring” film, i.e., a lesbian couple as the main characters (who kiss on the mouth! who mime oral sex beneath the sheets!), then what are you waiting for? Rent it. I saw if for free on a Netflix download — oh, no wait. It was an Amazon.com download, a promotional, free download — the bottom line, I didn’t pay anything, thank God. Add stars if you like clichéd characters, situations and dialogue, and lack of follow-through — and if you don’t mind being bored to death by their boring lives.

Please Give, a wonderful comedy-drama, great cast, in particular, Rebecca Hall, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt and Amanda Peet. Please rent it:

I’ve seen Toy Story 3. I LOVED the first Toy Story. Did not see the second. 3 was good, but sort of depressing. Not what I was expecting and, I would think, a somewhat disturbing experience for small kids.

Winter’s Bone left me cold. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. The characters seemed stereotypical. I felt like I’d seen the movie before; it was familiar in an unappealing way.

What’s left to see:

The Fighter – I’d like to see it for Christian Bale’s performance. He consistently gives good performances. He puts everything he’s got into a part. Amy Adams is a big favorite of mine, too. I like Melissa Leo (have you seen the fantastic Frozen River?). But, deep down, I fear it will be just another fighter beats the odds movie (and I don’t include the masterful Raging Bull in this category).

127  Hours – I had the misfortune of hearing Terry Gross interview James Franco on Fresh Air. Misfortune, not for the always captivating Terry Gross, who is an unfailingly fantastic interviewer. No, it was the misfortune of having to listen to the unending stream of B.S. emanating from Franco. Cannot stand him — or his gums. Or his lousy short stories, a collection which, by the way, he has just had published (after, what? taking a single writers’ workshop?), and had the audacity to read from on the air.

Inception — sorry, not interested.

True Grit — may rent it later on, for Jeff Bridges’ performance. I liked Crazy Heart and like most of his work in film. I saw the original True Grit years ago, didn’t like it, and have never been a John Wayne fan. I don’t go in for revenge stories, unless there’s a haunting quality, as in Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.

Still, I hope Colin Firth wins an Oscar. He deserves it. It would be good for his career, which means we will see him more often on film — and not because I believe in the buddy system called Hollywood. Which will probably give the Oscar to Annette Bening. I still can’t believe she won the Golden Globe.

And then we’ll have to listen to all the squishy cooing she’ll do about her marriage and kids and house husband, Warren Beatty — who, basically, does nothing now except to sit squinty-eyed, tuxedoed and Botoxed, at a table way in the back. The upside is at least they’re not Scientologists.

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One Response to “I Break for Movies”

  1. Colleen Friesen Says:

    Just finished watching Please Give. You are now my official movie reviewer and guide. Loved it. Such great performances all round and it just felt so finely nuanced…everyone just struggling to figure out how to live their lives. It was quite lovely and sad and perfect. Thanks.

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