Monday, January 15, 2007

Golden Globes Day!

Sorry I've had nary a moment to post. I've been pretty out of e-touch for the last couple weeks, just signing on here and there to check in and cover the basics. Besides, as everyone knows, I was very busy watching movies and so on. Surely that takes precedence over regular blogging? I was on a quest, after all! I called it "21 Days, 21 Movies"...

Upon further consideration, I'm wondering if I shouldn't have called it something else. I mean, I flew into Phoenix on Christmas Day, arriving at 5 p.m. and then being whisked away to Christmas presents and dinner with the family. The next day was given over to more Christmasing with other family. And January 14 I flew out of Phoenix as noon, arriving on Long Island circa 9 p.m., so that really didn't count as a moviegoing day either. In the end, what I did do was see 19 movies in 17 days. And here's my report (in, I think I've got it exactly, the order I saw them).

(Prologue: I had seen Thank You for Smoking already; I watched it this past summer in Somerville. I loved it. I thought it was hilarious, plus it packed a political punch and skewered hypocrits on all sides. I was thrilled that it got two Golden Globe nominations. But having been woefully out of the cinematic loop the last few months due to this pesky little thing known as the first semester of law school, I had seen exactly no other nominees! Hence, the winter break quest. How would the others stack up?)

Blood Diamond: I eagerly approached this one, loving all things international -human-rights-do-gooder as I do, and I was not disappointed. It called out everyone, even the crusading journalist, on how little we do to help the situation. Normally Jennifer Connelly gets on my nerves, but I liked her in this role. Djimon Hounsou is fantastic and should get an Oscar nomination. And Leo! Wow! In one of the two roles for which he's nominated for a best actor GG, he blew me away. Absolutely blew me away. There's a scene where rebels cut off villagers' hands (not graphically rendered, more like almost-but-just-off-screen cringe-rendered). Later someone in the film comments that Americans would not continue to buy diamonds if they knew it cost some other human being his hand. I thought, 'Ahh, but they would continue to shop at Wal-Mart, despite any cost to people around the globe.' Perhaps we should just bring some "every day low price" violently acquired diamonds into the W-mart and have it all done in one fell swoop?

The Pursuit of Happyness:: Will Smith and his son, both grand. I laughed, I cried. More so on the crying. Exquisite, and I highly recommend it. A lot of people have never in their lives had to wonder where they'll sleep that night. Those people are lucky, indeed. And no, I won't tell you why "Happyness" is spelled with a 'y' -- you'll just have to go see it for yourself.

Babel: This one was just astonishing. There are so many intertwined themes and issues, and a slew of remarkable performances. It is possibly my most highly recommended because it is just so significant, while also being such phenomenal filmmaking. Adriana Barraza was excellent and I wish she would win the supporting actress award, for which she was nominated, even though she will likely lose to Jennifer Hudson and even though Barraza's was clearly a lead role (about which I rant elsewhere). It was disturbing and brilliant. It is all about the enormity of our mistakes, and also the potential for humankind's redemption.

Dreamgirls: This one was OK. Idly I wonder what I would have thought of Jennifer Hudson's performance had I not endured the onslaught of hype about it for two weeks prior to seeing it. It wasn't bad, though. The thespian in me loved it more than the moviewatcher did.

Cars: Watched this one on DVD at my sister's. Here is where having a three-year-old nephew comes in handy! A free Golden Globe-nominated movie! I'd heard from other friends with children how great and popular this one is and I must say I was impressed. It was all Arizona-Route-66-like! Good message. Some hilarious voice performances, such as George Carlin as the hippie and whatnot.

The Departed:Another victim of uber-hype. It was fun to reminisce about Boston. Leo was astouding again. I can see why he was nominated twice. I thought Martin Sheen was really good, too, actually. Alas, he is not nominated. Lots of violence, lots of undercover action. Whatever. It was what it was. At least it held my interest and I didn't start text messaging as in some others (Dreamgirls, Apocalypto...)

Apocalypto: Yeah, OK, whatEVer! Seriously. Note to Mel: Get over yourself. Note to moviegoers everwyhere: Get over Mel. Violence, slow motion, warriors, running through the jungle, blah blah blah. And, the slow-mo falling drop of The Passion of the Christ was back. UGH. There were points when the audience even laughed out loud, and it wasn't at some witty comment, I'll tell you that. UGH UGH UGH. Furthermore, ugh. I was so irritated after watching it that I stood outside the theatre in the big circular courtyard of the AMC 30 thinking, 'I need to see something else. Right now. Something totally the opposite of that crap Ridiculypto.' Plus it was a Wednesday, so free popcorn for AMC Moviewatchers day, why not catch another? And so I watched the movie starting five minutes later...

The Holiday:...which was BRILLIANT!!! I loved it so much. SO, so much. It was not a GG nominee, so it wasn't really on my to-do list, but I am overjoyed that I watched it. It was funny, charming, splendid, smart, full of good performances by Kate, Jack, Cameron, and Jude...just delightful. It involved heartbreak, travel, art, and love. All the cheaters were shown to be the jerks they are. It made the appropriate fun of Hollywood la-la land while still paying homage to film's greatness. I wanted to stand up and cheer! Also, there was a whole thing going on with the books and I totally commend the set decorator for the brilliant job done there, but I was particularly interested to see on "Jude Law's" shelf The Majic Bus! For those that don't know, that's the book that is pretty much responsible for my being at Hofstra...but in a good way! I'll tell that story later, but Kim D., and others, you know what I'm talking about! Everyone go see The Holiday! I love it, I love it, I love it.

Volver:I loved this one, too. It is my favorite Almodovar. Here's the thing about me and Almodovar: I'm not entirely sure I "get" him in the way most of my film-loving friends do, especially the film-snob friends. They all rave endlessly about him and every time I watch a flick of his, I'm like, "OK." The thing is, I recognize his creative talent and innovation, but it just doesn't do it for me, usually. This time, however, I was enthralled. Particularly by Yohana Cobo, who plays Penelope Cruz' daughter. Cruz was the only one nominated, though. It's up for best foreign-language film, but I doubt it will win. I think either Letters from Iwo Jima or The Lives of Others, neither of which I've seen yet, will win. I would be happy if Volver did win, though. If Acrapalypto wins that category I will throw things.

Notes on a Scandal: This one was good. Cate and Judi going at it. I thought the screenplay was fantastic, and it is nominated for screenplay. I really, really hope it wins, even though it will beat Babel. I loved Babel, but Notes... should win screenplay. How creepy was Judi Dench, seriously? And Cate, too, a little bit. That's the thing. Well done, all.

I was now halfway though my time in Arizona, and rather enjoying my life of leisure watching movies every day. In addition to hitting the theaters, I had my Netflix coming in that I might watch some of the ones already out on DVD. And it was thus I discovered the next film, which may in fact be my favorite favorite of the nominees.

Kinky Boots: SO GOOD. This is really, I think, my favorite "type" of film, if I have a type. (I could never figure out my "type" of person either.) Quirky. Dramatic, yet funny, but witty funny. A moral. Understated performances. Decidedly not an action flick. A good time seems to be had by all as they were making it, and there's a climactic scene that brings tears. I really think sometimes that a movie will not make it into my favorites list if it doesn't make me cry. I am not a comedy/action/blockbuster girl. I'm just not. I LOVED THIS MOVIE. You probably haven't heard much about it. England, traditional shoe factory, working class people, hard times, the chance to make some boots for a drag queen...oh, it's just brilliant. Seek it out. You won't regret it. It's that whole life-can-suck-but-then-there's humankind's-chance-at-redemption thing again. I just adore it.

The Queen:They say it's "Helen Mirren's year." And it well might be. For those still sleeping under a rock, by that I of course mean "Helen Mirren's year to win an Oscar for best actress," in this case for playing the queen of England as Tony Blair the modernizer becomes prime minister, Princess Diana dies, and the royals have to grapple with what all of that means and where they fit in. It was so incredibly well done, and I'm rather sad that there weren't more nominations besides Ms. "It's Her Year." For example, the guy who played Tony Blair. Um...Michael Sheen. I loved the hunting allegory. Jolly good.

Little Miss Sunshine: If something was going to compete with Kinky Boots for my personal best picture award, this just might be it. I knew it would be from the minute I saw the preview last summer, but I just hadn't got around to seeing it. For this one, I borrowed my mom's car on a Sunday and drove to Tempe to see it at the only theater in the Valley at which it still played. I laughed out loud. I loved Abigail Breslin; who wouldn't? I loved the "#1 Proust scholar." I loved them all. I had been warned by a friend who once resided in New Mexico that the geography was a little screwy, and she was right, and that was irritating. Where could you possibly be in Arizona that's 700 miles from Albuquerque, two hours from Redondo Beach, and within an evening's roundtrip to Scottsdale on a motor scooter? Right. Nowhere. But then I thought maybe they weren't really supposed to know what they were talking about, since the family are all a little crazy. But wonderful. So, you suspend your disbelief about that part and then it's pure genius. Just go rent it now, because everyone has told you it's great and everyone is exactly right.

Borat: More uber-hype. I'm sick of hype, and I'm also sick of hyped movies. But I had to see it. And frankly, it was not the astounding! creative! oh my GOD the funniest thing EVER! that everyone made it out to be. Also, everyone seems to be really, really caught up in this Blair Witch-esque fantasy that all those encounters and things that happened to him are real. Um, hello. Not so much. On the other hand, parts of it were funny. Overall, I could do without it. It offered me nothing life-altering. I'm big on the life-altering. Oh, well. One of my law school classmates said his dad said they're speaking Armenian, not Kazakh or even Russian. At the time he told me that a few weeks ago, I said that was further evidence of Sacha Baron Cohen's "the joke is on everybody" cleverness. (This analysis of mine was of course met by blank stares from my classmates.) As I watched it, though, I picked up a few bits of what sounded remarkably like Polish. Now, I do know that a lot of Polish is similar to a lot of Russian, but I distinctly heard some Polish words that I thought were different in Russian (like "thank you.") So, maybe those Polish words are the same as Kazakh...or Armenian...or maybe he mixed in a bunch of Slavic languages, which I would then say is even further futher evidence of "the joke is on everybody" cleverness. And that, my friends, is the strength of this movie. The joke is indeed on all.

Little Children: I wasn't really paying attention to who was responsible for this one, because I was more focused on the Tom Perotta-ness of it and trying to decide whether to bother reading the book first. Glad I didn't waste my time. It was only after watching it I realized that this is the work of Todd Field, who was also responsible for In the Bedroom. Those of you who were around in my life during the In the Bedroom year will surely recall how eagerly I anticipated it and how quickly I was SO OVER it. Talk about your UGHs. Perhaps much like Mel and his ancient languages, Todd Field is going to rear his head every few years with a movie about families facing troubling choices, and everyone will go all loopy about it during awards season, and....blah blah blah. I yawned, and then started text messaging. There was some good acting, though. But, just in general, ugh.

Children of Men:More "children" in the title. More bleak portraits of humanity. This one was much better though. I only wish there hadn't been five big-haired middle-aged dips in the row behind me talking and laughing and "oh my god what's he going to do"-ing. Michael Caine was ALL THAT. Julianne Moore was gone before I knew it, so it's hard to comment on her performance. Clive Owen went a long way toward redeeming himself in my eyes for the ridiculous nightmare of pretentious crap that was Closer (2004's version of In the Bedroom). As did, interestingly, screenwriter Patrick Marber this year. He was responsible for Closer, but this year he churned out Notes on a Scandal. Which just goes to show that humankind can be redeemed! Life imitating art? Anyway, back to Children of Men. Um, it's hard to know what to say about it. But it would make good coffee-talk discussion. If only those five bimbos who also turned up behind me in Starbucks immediately after the film weren't still laughing and cavorting about how WEIRD it was, oh my GOD! I doubt they'd know a philosophical issue if it bit them on the nose. Ugh.

The Devil Wears Prada: So funny! Yea! I love Meryl! She's done it again. Emily Blunt was quite good, too, so yea for her supporting actress nomination. Good times! Another book I didn't bother to read. And another good message. Plus New York and Paris! Arguably two of the world's greatest cities.

The Ron Clark Story: This was a made-for-TV movie. I got it from Netflix. Matthew Perry was nominated for playing the teacher who goes to Harlem and changes some kids' lives, kids whose potential noone had previously bothered to recognize. Nothing earth-shattering in the story, but interesting. He's the "essential 55" guy. Who knew? (Yet ANOTHER book I never bothered to read. But I think he was on Oprah. So he must be inspiring, right?)

Happy Feet: Last but definitely not least. I LOVE PENGUINS. And I loved these penguins. And I loved that it did not kowtow to all the traditional plot devices. And I loved the little gang of penguins he falls in with, and the aquarium scene, and the dancing, and the message! I love Happy Feet so much! I believe it's up there with Kinky Boots. How appropriate.

Now that I'm out of middle America (as it were) and back in New York where all the good movies play, I will be able to eventually see others I've missed such as Bobby and Venus and so on. I'm short on time, so I'll just give a few predictions here for tonight's awards....best pictures will be Babel and Little Miss Sunshine (I hope not Dreamgirls). Actors....Helen and Forest (for sure Leo will split his vote, competing against himself) and then Meryl and I'm thinking maybe Sacha? Maybe! Supporting will be Jennifer and either Jack or Brad. OK, I've got to run. Happy Golden Globing, everyone!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

IN BORAT, AZMAT SPEAKS WESTERN ARMENIAN. BORAT REPEATS WHAT AZMAT IS SAYING BUT MOSTLY BORAT USES A MIXTURE OF HEBREW AND GIBBERISH

Anonymous said...

Linda, you're kind of a fucking idiot, aren't you?

linda said...

I'm not sure what this means. Aren't we all "kind of fucking idiots," in the end? Oh well, such are the joys of anonymous comments. Maybe I'll discontinue anonymous comments for a while. Then again, I like anonymous #1, who helpfully informed me about Borat, which shows that there are good and bad anonymouses...anonymi...