Friday, February 20, 2009

Nine Days, Nine Movies

Conversation overheard at The Tavern last week:

Peter: Hey, Bill, where’s Ellie?
Bill: She dumped me for Jennie.
Peter: Well, can you blame her?
Bill: No.

It’s been quite a run with my friend Sweet Jennie. We had ourselves a time at the Film Festival. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do tonight, without my backpack full of wine, pita chips and baba ghanoush, waiting for the red Honda F-I-T Fit to come pick me up . . .
Now that it's over, let's have a look back at what we saw, shall we?

The Duchess
Here's what I said about The Duchess last week, when we'd seen only one movie:

It was an odd little movie, strangely devoid of affectation. But Keira Knightley was adorable, as per. Great face. And her co-star Hayley Atwell, who the entire time I thought was Kate Beckinsale from Laurel Canyon, which I loved, was good, too.

Having seen the great slate of other movies since then, though, I'd say that was the weakest one of the bunch.

Rachel Getting Married
This movie was filled with comfortingly flawed characters. Kym was a flawed, flawed person, and Anne Hathaway nailed her. Rosemarie DeWitt was great as Rachel, too, and Debra Winger played a mother I can’t stop thinking about. Good movie that sticks with you, and just a fabulous rendition of the Neil Young tune Unknown Legend. Oh! And one rocking wedding.

The Dark Knight
Hated it. Hated the violence. Hated the people shooting eachother and cars crashing into eachother and buildings exploding. Hated that is was about 6 hours long. Hated that it was the country’s top-grossing movie and what people think of when then think of American filmmaking. Hated The Batman and hated his voice.

I did, though, like that Batman is now called The Batman. Nice touch. I’m thinking about adding a “The” to my name. “The Ellie”. I think it works.

I also like that, unlike what I feared, I was unaffected by Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. Thankfully, he will continue to always be my poor gay cowpoke boyfriend, Ennis Del Mar.
And Jennie? Sweet Jennie my wee little vegan all-god’s-furry-creatures-loving pacifist friend? Jennie loved the movie. Jennie loved The Batman, and Jennie loved The Joker. Jennie wants to take The Joker home and nurture him. Jennie thinks The Joker just needs some Sweet Jennie Love to snap him out of his nihilism.
Vicky Christina Barcelona
Tragically, I missed this one. I had no choice: my rat friend Matt came down for a long-planned visit. And I really do want to see it. Not least because I love Barcelona. I spent 5 or 6 days there on a business trip the week before I got married. I love that city. And I love those Spanish hot potatoes Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. Jennie made it to the movie. How many movies did Jennie miss? Jennie missed zero movies.

The Changeling
Pretty good one. The first half was good, as was the last quarter. The third quarter slowed down too much, with a non-compelling courtroom scene. Angelina Jolie was good, and she had great dresses and hats – Jennie and I loved her lids – but there were about 17 too many of the exact same close-up of her lips face. I liked the movie, though, and I was really happy to miss The Drama of The Bed.

The Visitor
The Visitor. Jennie and I thought it was going to be a happy, drumming movie, and it was much more somber and serious, but it was really good. I loved Richard Jenkins, and I loved Hiam Abbass, and I loved my smiley smiley beautiful boyfriend Haaz Sleiman. Lots of themes to think about like entitlement and loyalty and loneliness. Kind of heart-breaking, really, but I never ever wanted it to end.

Frozen River
I think this was my favorite one. I love a movie that lifts me out of the moment, and this one did . . . This movie was good. Melissa Leo – she of the academy award nomination – was awesome, as was her co-star, Misty Upham. As were the kids. I loved the connection between the two women, and the bleak New York State atmosphere, and the tight, compelling story. Just a brilliant little fil-um. Ellie Jury Prize Winner.

I’ve Loved You So Long
We had a lot to talk about after this movie. Interesting one. They all were, really. Which is why we chose to film fest in the first place, if I may use that as a verb. Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein, who played her sister, both had white, white skin and green, green eyes, and square jaws. (Neither Jennie nor I have a square jaw.) You couldn't take your eyes off either one. But there was one crucial plot assumption that didn't work at all, which is strange, and too bad, because it really hurt the movie. But I still liked it, and I loved the French. Oh. And the girl who played the daughter – named P'tit Lys (isn’t that excellent?) – was almost unbearably, adorably brilliant.
Ach. Poppy. I miss Poppy. I love Poppy. I use the word love a lot, I know. But I do love the movies. And I do love the specifically character-driven movies on the back side of the Film Fest. Walter, Ray, Juliette, and Poppy – our four heroes this week. And each one had a side kick (Mouna, Lila, Lea and Zoe, if you must know).
I don't know where I got my expectations, but I had this silly expectation that Poppy was annoyingly optimistic and a do-gooder. She was, in fact, optimistic, but also sarcastic and fun. We heard that our friends Dave and Jill walked out of the movie. They hated it. Which I find curious, because, well, I loved it. I wanted to bring Poppy right home with me. Not like Jennie and her creepy Joker, but just because Poppy seems like great fun to have around. When she's not trying to save the world.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And that's it. The New London 2009 Winter Film Festival has drawn to a close. Now I can get back to my book and my lonely husband. It was a fabulous stretch of movies, I had a great time with my girl Jennie, and it was about the very best way to while away part of a cold February in Connecticut.
And now, I've got to check the papers. What's playing this weekend?


peaceableimperatrix said...

Glad to get your feedback on some of these movies, that I have seen in my local rental store (that Drumming one, for instance).

I too was surprised at the violence in Batman, but I LOVED Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker. Oh my god, it was so raw, and ... perfect. Made me sad that he had to go and overdose -- what great stuff he would have done with a longer career.

Rita.the.bookworm said...

Wow! That was a great series of reviews. I want to see all of them, except Batman, which I've seen (the first half of) and hated. I am a big fan of the The Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher series, with Batman and Robin (George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone) as my favorite. I never saw Batman Begins because I saw no reason for another Batman series so soon after the other. I didn't like what I saw in the first half of Dark Knight though. Why did what's-his-face growl like that when he was Batman? And why the hell couldn't anyone speak up? I can't hear, dammit, too many years of loud music. I felt like my grandma, constantly asking, "What did he say?"

I do love Heath Ledger though. He was an extremely talented man.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Nicely done, The Ellie!

The film festival does sound like an excellent way to forget the long, bleak, cold, gray days of a New England winter. (At least until you exit the teater.)

Jennie and the Joker, now that does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?


Me, You, or Ellie said...

That would be THEATER, my teeth were chattering thinking about that blast of cold air when I wrote the first comment....


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, how I loved every word of this post. It's so timely right before Oscar weekend! One of the theaters here is offering a viewing of all best picture noms for $20. That is a hearty investment of time, though.

I really want to see Happy All the Time and Rachel Getting Married. No Batman, superfluous articles be damned.

The Jacquie

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Which reminds me. I think that, tragically, I'm not going to get to see the Oscars. No one's invited us. Don't people have Oscar parties anymore?

And Jacquie, it's called Happy-Go-Lucky, but I'm really liking Happy All The Time, too. And Rachel is great.


Captain Dumbass said...

I am jealous, The Ellie, of all the movies you were able to see. All the movies without singing animals.

Lola said...

It sounds like you have my kind of taste in movies. What a cool experience!