Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Stories In Film

I got dragged kicking and screaming to Doubt. I just am not a huge fan of straight ahead dramas...I prefer genre films I guess. But...I saw a clip on a talk show from this movie where Meryl Streep and Amy Adams are talking and Adams is kind of chewing out Streep's character and a light blows out. And Streep's character says "see you blew my light out"...and I thought it was so surprisingly hilarious I decided to see the movie. It's not only a very funny movie it is operatic camp. And dead serious. It was such a good movie with such good characters I almost shit my pants. Meryl Streep is off the chain. She is an animal. I know...what a sudden burst of insight I am "look Meryl Streep is an amazing actor!". We all know that, right? I'm killing myself because it's like I just discovered Streep ha ha. I used to have a friend who hated Meryl Streep and then he saw her in Bridges/Madison and he fell in love with her and how beautiful she was in that role. As Doubt begins it's an obvious parable about invading Iraq. I immediately regretting starting the film...but all of a sudden it changes and becomes something no one even the playright expected. I went online and the author says he wrote it as a parable for invading Iraq...but then...that Streep's acting and conviction actually inspired him to alter his focus of the characters and play. Steep is an animal...did I say that already? I absolutely loved this movie and have been thinking about it non-stop since I saw it. And I believe I could build an argument about "whodunnit"...

Perhaps a lighthearted genre film might offer an ever greater view of an actors capability? I was so enamored over Streep in Doubt I decided to watch another movie I didn't think I was interested in...of all things...Mamma Mia. I don't like this kind of singing, I don't really like very many musicals...but I thought this was great gay Shakespearean fun. It really had the vibe of a Shakespeare story set by the sea, kind of like The Tempest but not at all. Some of these guys couldn't sing at all, listening to Pierce Brosnan was both funny and sad..except, he was so commited to his role he kept me interested. I really loved this and now I wished I'd seen it in the theatre with a bunch of friends. If it isn't enough that Streep can act, she can sing AND dance too. she climbs all over the place while singing and does a great job. She is charismatic, ebulient and when she did a cannon ball off a dock, my eyes welled up. What an animal. Movie 5/10 Streep and fun: 9/10.

Meryl Streep singing with Canadian band Blue Rodeo in Postcards From The Edge, 1990.

Sean Penn makes the world a better place. Why doesn't he have an Oscar for every role he's ever done? I had absolutely no idea about the real life Milk and so Stagg and I got right into this counter-culture story and learned a lot. I grew up and went to a school where two of my girlfriends would hold hands at a party. It's hard to believe so many people were grossed out by gays and lesbians back in the 60's. What a great coverage of the times, of this aspect of human rights revolution and what incredible characters these mad gay guys were. I felt like I knew them! Like saying "Streep is a good actress" I'm going to sound like an idiot again...this movie knocks your socks off. It's good to see Van Sant back at a fully rounded story arc. Score: 10/10.

Definately, Maybe is one terrific sweet chick flick. It is also a fine example of good script-writing and story telling. I was fairly tepid about the main actor, Ryan Reynolds, but he was terrific as was the delightful Abigail Breslin. So many good things are in this movie it is an example of how there are good chick flicks and bad chick flicks and what a mistake it is to dismiss a movie because it carries a love story. The plot and time references surround music and a presidential candiacy. It's quite well done how we know what is going on time-wise due to President Clinton's story arc! Ryan Reynolds plays a political campaigner and divorced parent and his daughter wants to know her history as if it's a "love mystery story". The chemistry between actors is fantastic, and the characters sincerity keeps this movie moving forward and real. Score:9/10.

We were totally taken by surprise with the quiet charming movie The Visitor. All the actors draw the viewer in and it is so wonderful to have character be the major source of suspense and entertainment in a movie. Richard Jenkins totally deserves his best actor nomination. Score: 9/10.

I love monster movies and the Alien movies are among my favourite. I saw the first Alien movie by accident. Some friends and I went to see the suspense movie Altered States at the drive in where the William Hurt movie was the feature film. The way drive-ins work is they had a mainstream big seller blockbuster movie play first, then they would pair it with a B-movie. The B-movie that night was the first Alien. I remember begging to move to the front seat I was so scared sitting alone in the back seat with my friends. When film makers create such an astounding primordial character as the Alien...they know they can always market another movie to their die-hard fans. I am one such fan. I am also a fan of the B-movie Predator. So of course, I was looking forward to seeing another sequel, this one a second feature film pitting the Alien again the uber-hunter Predator. No, I know, no self respecting "film buff" would ever admit to seeing such low brow fare...or even more shocking enjoying it! Alien versus Predator: Requiem had some of the best special effects I've ever seen in a movie. It's beena long time and very rare to watch a contemporary horror or monster film that lacks any irony or self-referential humor. I found Requiem to be refreshing in it's lack of irony. The characters are straight-ahead archetypes, two former friends, one grows up a cop, the other a criminal, returning Iraq soldier, female, alienated form her daughter, a popular girl with a geek in love with her, etc etc. These characters had no idea they were in a monster movie and I loved that for a change. (see also The Decent and Cloverfeild. Unfortunately, Stagg doesn't like horror movies so I have o watch them by myself...and this one had some scary moments. I loved the mano-a-mano between a Predator and an Alien, no armour! Acting/plot score: 6/10. Special effects score: 10/10.

The 1970's movie Caged Heat scared the living shit out me. Jonathan Demme has always been able to bring a documentary feel to his fiction films maybe because he has made some of the coolest docs around with Neil Young and Talking Heads. Demme seems to me to be that kind of director who shows strength working with women, (like George Cukor and Ridley Scott) and Rachel Getting Married is an intense, languid and penetrating story of two women, neither of them especially likablee...that is...until they like each other first. Sometimes, I was really surprised how languid and slow the handheld camera work was...how much time was spent following very mundane family activities, how the music was sometimes annoying...even one of the characters complains about the drone-like quality! But also...it is a movie that incorporates music as ambiance and plot, there are extremely tense emotional scenes. I am very close to my sister and it was painful to see a mean sister relationship. ..and I felt a claustrophobia and fear of loss in this movie like I did when I first aw Caged Heat. No one is meaner to women than other women.These two sisters are so immature, competitive and each seeking to be the center of attention craving approval, it is a painful movie. The cast is incredible with singer from TV on the Radio, Bill Irwin, Roger Corman but the most wonderful surprise cast member was the magnificent Debra Winger. I was not a really big fan of Anne Hathaway, but she won me over with her chops and her chopped haircut. Score: 8/10.

Many powerful portrayals of predators can be found in film history, but none has quite scared me, repulsed me, and compelled me as Kate Winslet in The Reader. Right when she first preys on a sick boy there is something seemingly innocent and damaged about Winslet's character and I felt oddly emotionally pulled. How clever of a true predator! One of the amazing things about this movie and about Winslet is that it challenges certainty in some ways. I am a fairly easy going person about ambiguous topics, often I enjoy approaching topics or movies and picking out a different angle. But there are a few topics in the world where I am not ambiguous, where I am absolutely uncompromising. Some of those topics are children and drugs, abuse in positions of power, and nazis. I will not compromise. Like Indiana Jones "I hate those guys". Two grandfathers signed up to fight nazi's and one of them spent the rest of his life reading action war stories about fighting nazi's. You could say, I come by it honestly. At one point during a trial scene Winslet is so naive and subtle that I almost felt like I could almost sympathize with her...and this really shocked me and is a credit to her performance. Not since Kevin Spacey playing an equally disturbed killer in Se7en have I felt this frightened and interested in a predator. We discover that this predator has a pattern of adopting sickly children...in one act as kindness, in another she is the worst kind of monster:unaware and remoresless. Finally, by the end of the movie there are two characters who are the spine of life (the prof)...I absolutely loved the woman/character of a rich Jewish New Yorker who will not accept any ambiguity about actions during her childhood. I relate to her resolve. Her lines and acting are awesome. I did not want to like this movie but Stagg and I were riveted. Score: 10/10.

Meryl Streep singing in Silkwood, 1983.

9 comments:

mister anchovy said...

infectious reviews!

The Preacherman said...

The Alien and Predator movies are a gas!!!

Alien = Sigourney Weaver in her prime in tiny knickers (ok so I'm a perv!!)...;-)

They are chill out with a beer and switch off movies.

If you want a movie to make you laugh and cry try "Run Fat Boy, Run"

Trust me. You will LOVE it.

Simon Pegg is supurb.

If you do like it go for his other movies - 'Sean Of The Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz'. They are quite simply MAGNIFICENT.

So there.

Lemme know what you think if you see 'em eh?

Janet said...

These reviews made me want to go out and see each and every one of these movies!!!

I second that Sean of the Dead is fantastic, btw :-)

Gardenia said...

Meryl Streep is just one awesome, sexy, brilliant woman - great actress I think...I loved Mama Mia and Doubt - in fact I love about anything she is in - she is so versatile, so beautiful and so elegant no matter what role she plays - ok, I'm a Meryl Streep fan. MM was not a film I would usually see either, but then I went and saw it twice, it was awesome in the theater.

* (asterisk) said...

It goes without saying I hated Mamma Mia! I mean, wow... One of the worst films I've ever seen. I think the acting was rough and the direction even rougher. In fact, I'm fairly sure the director must actually be a choreographer. Or maybe the choreographer doubled as director, with no previous experience of the latter. Utterly offensive. I wish I'd walked out, actually.

* (asterisk) said...

Here's my review, in case you didn't catch it first time around:
http://suchastheyare.blogspot.com/2008/08/mamma-mia.html

Candy Minx said...

Yes, but *, what in heck are you doing going to Mamma Mia? You aren't the target audience and of course you're going to hate it...you're a straight male!

:)

SME said...

Richard actually is not overly impressed by Meryl Streep, but I think Doubt could change his mind. It's on my to-see list. She blew me away in "The Hours".

I was also very impressed by the Jewish lady in The Reader, probably because her character was so true to life. Survivors are not the trembling, damaged creatures we imagine. They're pretty damn tough and they don't play around. A residential school survivor I know won't even use the word "survivor", even though she went through some horrendous stuff. If you call her that, she just sniffs and says, "I'm supposed to be here."

Candy Minx said...

SME, it used to be that I might avoid a movie if Streep was in it...because I figured it would be too much of a drama or sad. I cried all the wy home, in public on the Toronto subway when I saw "Sophies Choice". I've never talked about the mvie since...I have a self imposed gag order! But I've loosened up about dramas...it helps when you have a girl friend to wtch them with. I usually watch dramas with my friend Anita, she holds my hand heh heh. And we both love discussing acting.

I am still thinking about the power of that actress near the end of "The Reader" (are we the only two people who saw that?)

I don't prefer the word survivor either. I consider my horrors to be badges of honor!

The actress was the magical Lena Olin...how wonderful is she!!!!????