Monday, February 28, 2011

See You At The Movies

After our fourth movie in four nights, and our fourth visit to the Dutch after four movies in four nights, Jennie and I were discussing the intensity of meeting for a drink at my house, going to the movie, then going to the Dutch for a drink and to deconstruct. Jennie said, “It’s like we’re on assignment!”

Well, now it's the end of the second week and the end of eight movies. The ninth and tenth (How To Train Your Dragon and Inception) were Saturday, but I had to miss them.

And, of course, the Oscars were last night, so this is all moot. But I worked this Film Festival, dammit -- I was on assignment. And I didn't go out every night and drink all that wine for nothing. So the Academy Awards having already been awarded notwithstanding, here is my Film Festival lowdown:

The Illusionist
This was a sad, sweet movie, and the perfect beginning to the Film Festival. Because, frankly, I probably would not go to see a cartoon movie – as I so sophisticatedly call it –  in French, if it wasn’t in the Film Festival.

It was lovely. And was illustrated by Jacques Tati, which gets a lot of people excited, apparently. The movie looked beautiful, with his illustrations of Edinburgh, London and Paris. And the tall, tall Illusionist himself, with his sad eyes and droopy face, ach, he killed me.

Sigh. If only Magic existed.

Inside Job
This was the most depressing movie of the Film Festival, and possibly of all time. It’s a documentary about the 2008 financial collapse, and the men who let made it happen.

I felt like the tiniest bug on the tiniest plant after seeing this – like there is nothing – nothing – someone like me could do to make any difference in the world these guys create. Well, except pay taxes with which to bail them out. Really, it’s disgusting what these guys got away with.

And the scariest thing? This group of men move from the financial sector, to government, to the universities, and back again. They are creating the policy, and then they are writing the Economics textbooks, teaching the corruptness they create. And they’ve never been punished. It’s mind-boggling, and absolutely disheartening.

Animal Kingdom
Loved it. This movie about some baaad brothers in Australia and their terrifying mother – oh man was she scary, and awesome – was full of broad themes – innocence, loyalty, family, revenge – but focused on a tight, almost claustrophobic moment in time for one hell of a screwed up family.

We had a lot to talk about after this movie, if no other reason than the sound was too low, and it was easy to miss dialogue, which was Australian-accented and mumbly to begin with. Bill even got yelled at for eating his popcorn too loudly. At least he was restrained enough not to dump it on the sarcastic complainer’s head in front of him.

Barney’s Version
Oh, poor Barney. He sure was a lovable ol’ schmuck, even though he couldn’t get anything right. Paul Giamatti was brilliant, as always, and was in almost every scene of this movie that covers over 30 years of Barney’s life. Rosamund Pike, who played Miriam, was wonderful, too. She was the wonderfully vacuous Helen in An Education.

Loved the Montreal-Jewish background, loved Scott Speedman and Minnie Driver, and Mistah and I both loved the fact that in every scene, someone was throwing back a shot of whiskey.

The Kids Are Alright
Bill and I saw this movie together in the movie theater when it came out and I loved it. But Tuesday night I loved it even more. I loved the complicatedness of the characters – they were all flawed, all imperfect, all so human – and I loved the unusual family that's really not unusual at all: the fact that the parents are both women is not what the movie’s about; it’s just the existing reality.

The acting was phenomenal – Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo (swoon) and the two kids were just perfect. Bill found the Annette Bening character annoying. I answered, “Act-ing!”

I loved the attention to and analysis of a 20-year marriage, too, creeping up on that number myself. Well, not myself – with the full cooperation of Mistah. Lots goes on in 20 years – sometimes it's hard, but there's tons of good stuff too.

This is an excellent little movie.

Winter’s Bone
Talk about phenomenal acting. Jennifer Lawrence as Ree Dolly was brilliant. Brilliant. I’ve read the Daniel Woodrell novel – twice – so I knew exactly what to expect and the movie was just as good as that spare, almost-poetic, intense novel which cuts you like a knife. Actually, stabs you like a dagger. The lighting in the movie – white and harsh and wintery and bright – was so awesome it was almost distracting.

Bad things can happen when you live among loosely-related folks in the Ozarks and you go snooping around, but Ree Dolly – like her across-the-centuries-in-movieland-colleague-Mattie Ross – has True Grit, and a big heart, and is intrepid and tenacious and, as she said, a Dolly bread-and-buttered, and despite what a lot of those in my little movie-attending group felt, I found this movie uplifting and hopeful.

And absolutely phenomenal. My personal Film Festival favorite.

The Social Network
Meh. I’d seen this one once before too, but unlike The Kids Are Alright, I liked this one less the second time. The acting was good, sure it was, but that doesn’t mean I liked spending all that time with the characters those actors played – unlike Ree Dolly I just got tired of Mark Zuckerberg after a while. After a short while, really. The whole movie played out like a long (looong) TV show for me, and I found it more tedious than compelling. Although I really loved Eduardo.

One good thing about seeing it a second time: it’s a dialogue-rich movie, and I picked up lines the second time I’d missed the first time. Yeah, I know: lah-dee-dah.

I Am Love
Oh, love. I mean, oh, amor. I have to admit I didn’t quite know what exactly was going on at the beginning of this movie, but I didn’t care: it was so gorgeous and so beautiful, and Tilda Swinton is so alluring and so captivating, that I just wanted to watch forever. But then the story emerged, as did Tilda Swinton’s character, and it just got better and better. She kind of looks like a cross between a beautiful woman and a space alien. Which is a very cool look.

More themes of family and loyalty and survival. And sex and food and lust and Italy, too. What’s not to like?

And I really loved this Edoardo too.


So that's it. Congrats to all the winners. And to all the losers too. Because, after all, there would be no winners without losers.

And kids? We'll see you at The Movies.


Loved that Winter's Bone in PA said...

We clearly have similar tastes...and I personally felt that Jennifer Lawrence would have been a hands down winner if she didn't have to compete against the psycho-drama character that Natalie Portman portrayed in Black Swan. Timing is everything.

I so enjoyed the movies, which meant the Oscar telecast was a complete letdown...can't we give Billy Crystal a lifetime assignment to be Oscar host (and Ellen can fill in if he's sick) ?! Please!

Thanks for the review...Siskel and Ebert have nothing on you and your cohorts!

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Great post, Ellie! I really wanted to see The Kids are Alright before the Oscars, Winter's Bone was not even on my radar before, I am such a movie loser. I did make it to see The King's Speech, and caught The Social Network on the plane ride home from Chicago at Christmas time. Oh, and I saw Toy Story 3 in CT this summer and cried pretty much all the way through. I think the only way I could participate in a film festival would be if someone flew me to Cannes or Sundance, so I'm very glad to participate vicariously in this one!



Dawnie said...

Didn't we have the best time in that balcony? Snacks and wine, bloodies and beer followed by stimulating (and in my case, edifying} discussion! I really did love them all, some more than others. The notable exception was Inception which substituted special effects for the profound emotions that dominated the others. Of course, had I a clue about what Inception was really about, i.e. had I understood but a minute of it, I might give it props. But with no Eduardo to save it, naaaah. Until next year...

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Movie loser? That would be me. But Ellie, I so love this! I really appreciate all of your insight. I can't wait to add all of them to my queue. Although I am now so wary of Inside job, but sometimes you gotta watch things irregardless of the pain, right??

I watched Waiting for Superman this weekend. Pretty depressing, but worthwhile.

Great post:-)