My movie watching goes in ebbs and flows–sometimes I’m totally on my game and am up with the latest theatre releases and other times… well, it’s nice to catch them on DVD/TV too.
Thanks to the long and lazy holiday weekend, I was able to round out a lot of the movies still waiting on my “to watch” list while (and I think, for the first time in a looong while), I’ve actually seen most of the movies attracting early Oscar buzz.
Below are my humble opinions on the films we watched, in no particular order aside from the one in which I saw them.
Black Swan– I’ve already reviewed this here, so I won’t go on about it too much. If you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to read spoilers, just know that I kind of hated it while I watched it, but appreciated it more when it was over/after I had thought about it some more.
The Social Network- Blame it on the mega-hype, or my own prejudice against historically based dramas that revolve around someone’s who’s still alive (let alone not yet 30), but I wasn’t as impressed with this film as a lot of other people I’ve talked to about it. Overall, it was well-done–I thought the acting was decent and the plot pushed along well enough, but I didn’t really feel gripped by the film. And the ending was a bit lackluster for me: essentially it played out like a modern-day Aesop’s fable: You can have it all, and in the end, it’s not worth a damn if you don’t have the people you love in your life.
Despicable Me- I was initially hesitant about this one. I love Steve Carrell and love animated films, but now that celebrity voice overs in cameos is the “in” thing to do, these can often be hit (The Toy Story franchise) or miss (Shark’s Tale). I didn’t have much desire to see it when it was in theatres, but as time passed, my curiosity piqued. We finally watched it last week, and I’m happy we did. It was the right mix of sweet, funny, and adult- and kid-appropriate. It’s definitely one I would be happy to watch again…
The King’s Speech- I went into this one knowing I would like it and I did. This isn’t to say it totally blew me away, but it had all the elements to make it enjoyable: interesting historical dramatization, well-selected cast, a good mix of historical accuracy/whimsical editoralization, and of course, Colin Firth. I was really impressed with the way he was able to mimic a speech impediment and his portrayal of the king as a sympathetic but strong man. I also thought that Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush gave solid performances in their respective roles (Rush should definitely be nominated for, if not win, an Oscar for his portrayal of cheeky, eccentric, and rather brilliant Lionel Logue and Carter should be commended for once again playing a role where she’s not a total creep show).
The Winter’s Bone- Of all the Oscar-bait movies we watched, this by far was the one I thought the best. The story was gripping, honest, and raw. I was particularly impressed with newcomer Jennifer Lawrence as Ree, the 17-year old girl trying to save her Ozark home and what’s left of her family when her father disappears after he puts their property up for his bail bond. John Hawkes also shines as Teardrop, the gruff and somewhat formidable figure who also proves to still have a tender side (in his own way…). I would be surprised if they both didn’t receive Oscar nods, along with one for Best Picture.
Exit Through the Giftshop- A pretty interesting/quirky documentary that essentially (well, to me) begs the age-old question: What is art and how can you tell what’s *real* art? Not only was it awesome to get a more in-depth look into the world of street art/graffiti, it was awesome to see how one man was pretty much able to infiltrate this scene as a “poser,” mainly due to the ego of the artists who enjoyed his attention/the thought of being filmed for a break-through documentary, and then subsequently shit on him for being a hack/crazy because he inevitably became more successful than them (Don’t get me wrong; they certainly have valid points–but they still sound like bitter buffaloes about it).
Temple Gardin- This has been on the “to watch” list for awhile, basically ever since the hype about it during the last round of award season winners were announced. In the spirit of the weekend, we watched this one, too. And once again, I thought it was a decent movie, but did not live up to the hype. The book has been sitting on my shelf for some time and I’m more interested to try reading it again now after seeing the movie to see how much artistic liberty they took within the film. It just felt like the story played out a little too cinematically–like they really wanted to drive home the idea of living the American dream, no matter what your handicap: Pick yourself up by the bootstrings, get ready to face the world and walk through that door, because every door opens to a new opportunity! Now don’t get me wrong, these are all sentiments I agree with and appreciate, but there hits a point in the movie where it almost felt like a parody–also, I thought Claire Danes bordered on sounding like a muppet. I haven’t looked up what the actual Temple Gardin sounds like because I don’t want to feel bad about this observation if her impersonation was spot-on.
All that being said, it was interesting to her about the work Gardin has done with slaughterhouses to make them more humane, and from my save-the-anipals standpoint, I thought it poignant that this woman with autism, who finds it impossible to connect on a deep emotional level with the people around her, still understands the necessity of treating animals with compassion and dignity. For that, along with the impossible odds she did overcome, Gardin earns my respect and admiration, even if the movie based on her life was a little cheesy…
MegaMind- Another celebrity voice-over kids’ flick. This one was also cute, but I still liked Despicable Me better.
The Fighter- D loved this one while I once again felt underwhelmed. Once again, the story was well-told and once again, the cast had a solid showing (holla at ya, C-Bale!), but there was nothing that stood out to make this stand apart from other such every-underdog-gets-their-day movie that becomes an Oscar contender. I appreciated that they didn’t try to tie everything at the end nicely into a perfectly wrapped Hollywood package; however, I still didn’t feel any sort of major emotion when the movie was over. It was nice to watch; it was fairly predictable. The dynamics of the family were certainly interesting/humorous/a bit disturbing, but I felt like we only got to scratch the surface with all of the characters: I didn’t really feel a major connection to them as people: Each one seemed to fit the persona necessary to tell the tale. In some ways I can understand and appreciate that: this was a big Irish family from the suburbs of Boston–they weren’t sitting around having deep expositions about life as they knew it: you did what you had to do, you expressed how you felt in the moment, and you moved on. So, I think the movie was trying to be true to the real-life characters, but I still would have liked something to make them more three-dimensional.
So that’s it. If you, dear reader, have seen any of these flicks, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts (especially if they’re in line with mine :))