Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recommended new movies!

I've seen some really great movies at the theater recently....which is unusual. It seems like I go through each year with nothing appealing enough to compel me to leave the house and go to the theater and then in the last few weeks of the year there are suddenly a bunch of great movies to go to. The majority of the year, nothing but bullshit testosterone movies made for teenage boys. Silly isn't it? (Well, they did have two brilliant films that were released earlier this year: Julie & Julia and Cheri).

So, here's my thoughts about some of the GREAT movies that I've just seen (and my ratings: 1 to 5 star, 5 star is the best):

UP IN THE AIR 5stars

This is an unusual movie. It is a serious comedy. Not really a black comedy, although it is that in a sense as it accurately reflects the rather bleak economic world we live in today. What I think makes this movie unique is that it has a perfectly blended balance of both humor and serious, upsetting material.

UP IN THE AIR is about a man who works for a company that specializes in termination of employees. The firm, unlike the rest of the world, is enjoying a is thriving thanks to the rampant economic disaster which is rampaging through the world at the moment. Staff downsizings and layoffs are big business at the moment and this firm is riding the wave, doing the dirty work for companies who are facing bleak economic realities. Clooney is a professional "terminator" so to speak.

The movie is brilliant primarily because of the script. A script which crackles with humor and intelligence and a defiance of traditional choices that would have made most filmmakers turn this into a formulaic feel good movie with just a happy ending.

The movie is also brilliant because of the director, Jason Reitman (who also wrote the script).

But, finally, perhaps the most important ingredient in the alchemy which makes this a perfect film, are the actors. I must say that I've always thought George Clooney was an interesting, easy-on-the-eyes celebrity. But I never thought that he was necessarily a great actor. Until now. His performance is genius in its restraint and nuance. In fact, I really am not sure what other actor could have taken this role and created such a remarkable and gorgeous performance.

Vera Farmiga is absolutely stunning in a role that is in my mind an historical first in modern movies. She plays Clooney's equally ambitious sexual partner. As she says in the film to Clooney: "Think of me as you with a vagina." I won't say anything because I don't want to spoil the films dénouement .....but she is so gorgeous and sensual and her character so appealing and then, in its sheer originality, the script gives us a most unusual, nontraditional diversion. This actress deserves a nod from the Academy. A brilliant performance. And a brilliantly realized character by both the Reitman and Farmiga.

Anna Kendrick, who plays the naive young woman who Clooney is assigned to teach the ropes of his industry, is absolutely spot on with her interpretation of this young upwardly professional, just out of college, who begins to learn that life is not the idealistic perfection we all are raised in the US to expect.

Oh, and did I say that Clooney, in addition, to Farmiga is as delicious to look at as could be.

This is a perfect movie. Give it the Academy Award.


This film has I believe been rather panned by reviewers. Some of the criticisms are that it is a schmaltzy story about a rich white family who "adopt" a young black man. But it seems rather foolish to criticize a film for being "formulaic" if the film is based upon a very true story. I doubt the Tuohys and Michael Lewis (the movie is based upon Lewis' book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game) lived their lives to tailor make a perfect Hollywood script for a future movie. The story is what it is. It happened. And it is a wonderful, uplifting story, saccharine though it may be. I perhaps could support criticism of the script if it was not based upon a true story, as it would seem blatantly formulaic. A movie to make rich white people feel happy about their Christianity and their good fortune. A movie that would make most rich white Republicans affirm just how good their white-bread world really is (most of these audience members would probably never have done what the Tuohy's did). But this story really happened, just as it is depicted in this film.

But the thing that makes this movie a great movie, is Sandra Bullock's tour-de-force performance, which I think is the best of her career. The same can be said about Quinton Aaron's portrayal of the film's protaganist, Michael Oher.

Bullock portrays a Southern socialite with absolute precision. The vocal cadence is absolutely spot on.
I do hope these two actors receive a nomination for an academy award nod despite the academy's usual snootiness when it comes to films of this genre.

Kathy Bates is just another great reason to see this film.

I must admit this movie made me feel wonderful, which I could have judged as being formulaic, contrived, gratuitous, and manipulative, if it wasn't a beautiful true story with two brilliantly beautiful performances by Bullock and Aaron.

MOON 4 stars

Okay, so I'm a HUGE fan of the Stephanie Meyers book series. LOVED every single book. Which is what I like about the associated film series, New Moon the most recent addition. The films are so true to the original stories and the casting so absolutely true to the original book characters that you cannot HELP but love these films. But, the reason I love the movies all the more is because his HOTNESS, Robert Pattinson, who plays the vampire Edward Cullen.

This actor is so beautiful....and his co-star, Kristin Stewart, who plays the book's protaganist, Bella, is equally as compelling.

I loved this film. Can't wait for the next two.

And, as much as I LOVE Johnny Depp, Robert Pattinson SHOULD have been People's Sexiest Man Alive this year. Forget the just post-pubescent Taylor Lautner. Pattinson is sexiest.....first of all he is well-beyond the legal age. But also, I'd prefer to have the life sucked out of me by a vampire rather being chewed up by a smelly old werewolf.

COCO 5star
This is quite simply a stunning film. Audrey Tautou gives an incredibly nuanced and brilliant performance of Coco Chanel. But it is her two male love interests in the movie that I thought made the film unique. Benoît Poelvoorde (Étienne Balsan) and Alessandro Nivola (Boy Capel) play her older and younger lovers, respectively, and each of these men are absolutely delicious to look at. But this movie does something unusual: it imbues the male characters with vulnerabilities which make them all the more erotic and if anything only intensifies their virility. Coco and UP IN THE AIR both share a "pioneering" spirit in film in that they portray women who are equal in strength as men. I wish we could see more movies that represent the world as it is, not the cardboard one-dimensional portrayals of men and women right out of a Republican Party members' Bible.

But ultimately this movie is brilliant because of Audrey Tautou. She must receive a nomination for Best Actress.

If you follow this blog, you know that one of my fascinations is with courtesans in history. Coco was a courtesan of sorts and the film gives an interesting portrayal of courtesans in France.

And by the way, tell me if you don't swoon every time that hotness Alessandro Nivola is onscreen.

This is a wonderful movie. The true brilliance is in the "Wild Thing" characters. They are so perfectly brought to life.

This film is such an incredible journey because of the sets and the costumes as well (and the soundtrack).

This film also has the always brilliant Catherine Keener cast as the mother.

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