Tuesday, March 18, 2008

she asked for it, so you pay the price

During our very enjoyable weekend visit with Heather, we talked about all sorts of things including movies. We ended up watching Juno together (M and me for the second time at our discount theatre and H for the first) H asked me last night if I could kindly email her a list of some of the movies M and I recommended. I started this email this morning at 9am and found myself well, going off as it were. (Wow. We watch a lot of movies. And M watches even more than me.) Some more of my thoughts and musing perhaps a little more relevant as blog material. So here you go. The first two sections were in my email to H. The last bits are for the blog. Do with this info what you will.

Dear H,
Okay, so you were looking for a list of movies and links and such of some of the things we talked about over our excellent weekend. Let me see how much I can remember...

Stuff We Talked About

Dan In Real Life - A romantic comedy starring Steve Carrell and Juilette Binoche about a widower with three teenaged girls who unwittingly falls for his brother's girlfriend while on a family trip. Sweet story, well performed. A little surprised that it got passed over as there wasn't much buzz over it.

Eagle Vs. Shark - Quirky romantic comedy starring one of your Flight of the Conchords singers (the one with the great facial expressions). Kind of a cross between Napoleon Dynamite (style) with Science of Sleep (special effects) reminiscent of 80's awkward romance sort of. Very sweet.

Away From Her - Tragic drama starring Gordon Pinsent, Julie Christie (we should all hope to look so good at her age) and Olympia Dukakis. Very sad story about an elderly couple where the wife who is facing mental deterioration from alzheimer's insists that her husband put her in a group home.

Sicko - Documentary by Michael Mann about the health care system in the U.S. I'd really be interested in hearing your thoughts about this movie after you see it. I think M would be too.

Stardust - Fantasy romantic comedy with Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro. I thought it was cute and charming. M didn't like it as much because he thought the lead was passive and everything just happened to him. And we argued about whether or not that was part of the genre then ended up talking about Star Wars and Joseph Campbell.

Stuff We Didn't Talk About, But Now That I Think Of It, These Were Good Movies So You Should Watch Them

Lars and the Real Girl - My personal favorite movie from last year. Quirky story about a young man named Lars and his love affair with a life sized doll and how the residents of his small town support him. I thought it was a very sweet story, M thought he needed to really stretch to suspend disbelief. Just go into it without any expectations or judgment and you'll enjoy a great ride.

Superbad - If you enjoyed Michael Cera's performance (and who doesn't??) in Juno (he plays Paulie Bleeker the trackstar boyfriend) rent this slightly raunchy coming of age comedy about two friends in high school who try to find love before their graduation. He is once again heartwarmingly earnest and you will laugh so hard.

Knocked Up - Another fun jaunt from producer Judd Apatow (he was responsible for The 40 Year Old Virgin and Superbad). It's a romantic comedy starring Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl about an unlikely couple who end up unexpectedly pregnant. So freaking funny. Especially the male lead's menagerie of friends.

And please go watch The 40 Year Old Virgin if you haven't yet. Pretty much anything with Steve Carrell in it, I will go see. (Disclaimer: this was however, a mistake when we watched Evan Almighty, the sequel to Bruce Almighty. Sigh. Too bad.)

Waitress - Starring Keri Russell. I didn't really watch all of this, though I wish I had. M enjoyed it. It's about a small town waitress who has mad baking skills and makes the best pies (fun visuals of her inventing new recipes to correlate to the storytelling). She is unhappily married to a violent and possessive redneck who she hopes she can escape from with grand prize earnings from a pie-baking contest.

Death At A Funeral - We just watched this and it was fun and funny. A farcical comedy about a british family who are just trying to pay their respects at a funeral of a dead patriarch with some unexpected twists and antics.

No Country for Old Men - Breathtakingly violent, featuring (arguably) a cinch in the top ten bad guy characters of all time. It's a very difficult story to film, and while beautifully done I do feel it failed to get to its point in an accessible way. Still very entertaining and worth checking out. Though, remember the warning about the violence.

Bourne Ultimatum - I'm an action movie junkie. Did you know that? I really like this series and enjoyed this installment as well. Really nice fight choreography. Hard to innovate on this these days as there are so many movies employing fight sequences whether of the traditional bad guys/good guys variety or of the kung fu inspired sort. Very entertaining film.

Once - Sweet romance/musical (technically I do believe it was a musical) starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. You know... I didn't think the story was that good or all the songs that amazing, but there's something terribly compelling about this story. Worth checking out.

Stuff I Watched Last Year That Were of Note (For Good or Bad)

Darjeeling Limited - Wes Anderson's visually beautiful film starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman about three brothers who take a train ride through India at an attempt to become closer and resolve family conflicts. More of a pretty film than anything else. The story was fine, but I didn't get a whole lot out of it. I saw The Royal Tenenbaums recently and really enjoyed that one much much more.

Gone Baby Gone - First time directorial effort for Ben Affleck. I think he did a rather nice job - perhaps his real calling? Casey Affleck is a fine actor in this story of a Boston area private investigator who is enlisted by the sister of a grieving mom to find her missing 4 year old girl. Fine acting and good storytelling by all.

Breach - Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney based on the true story about a how a director of an intelligence group at the Pentagon (CIA? I can't remember) was a Soviet mole for about 20 years. Pretty gripping. Worth checking out if you want to see a Washington drama.

Atonement - period drama starring Keira Knightly and James McEvoy about how a misunderstanding irrevocably changed the lives of three people. Beautiful costumes and beautifully filmed. Solid acting, had problems with the storytelling. It was okay.

Into The Wild - Starring Emile Hirsch (who SO got overlooked for an Oscar nom) based on a true story about a young man who leaves his post college life to pursue truth and freedom as he sees it in remote Alaska. Very compelling story, though it did make me sad in a dissatisfied kind of way.

The Savages - Starring Laura Linney and Phillip Seymour Hoffman about a brother and sister who must deal with their estranged mentally deteriorating father. It was okay. Not as funny as the trailer built it up to be and surprisingly not that good overall. Which is a little disappointing given the caliber of acting that you anticipate from a film with LL and PSH.

American Gangster - True story of a crime boss and the man who put him away as portrayed by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. It was better than I expected it to be, but that said it was about half an hour longer than it needed to be and I struggled with the story it was trying to tell. Am I supposed to feel like the crime boss is in some way heroic? Who am I rooting for here? It's tough to retell a true story as historical occurrences so rarely follow a tidy story arc.

In Bruges - chasem' shootem' up kind of story about two british hitmen (Colin Farell and Brendan Gleeson) who get sent to Bruge, Belgium to await further instruction from their boss. Funny, thoughtful. Hm. Interesting, I suppose. Not great. No need to give it high priority on your Netflix queue.

Films I Did Not Watch in the Theatres, But Will Probably End Up Doing So via Netflix

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. I don't know much about it, but am interested in seeing it.

Michael Clayton
- Starring George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson (isn't he grand?) and Tilda Swinton. I had no interest in seeing this, so M went to see it by himself and then came home and told me that I needed to see it.

There Will Be Blood - I'm trying to see all of Paul Thomas Anderson's movies. Same with Wes Anderson.

Teeth - dark indie horror/comedy about a teenaged leader of her local chapter of a chastity group who discovers that she is endowed with vagina dentata. I hear it's quite a trumpet for feminism.

The Business of Being Born
- documentary about homebirthing.

Caramel - Lebanese romantic comedy about an aesthetician and the girls in her beauty shop (the title comes from the sugary caramel they concoct to use for hair removal). I wasn't terribly interested in this movie until I heard a few reviewers speak glowingly of it. So I figure it's worth checking out.

The Band's Visit - an Egyptian police band are stranded in Isreal on their way to a gig.

Be Kind, Rewind - It's Michel Gondry. I have to watch it.

Charlie Bartlett - The director was featured on The Treatment so I feel compelled to see it.

The Counterfeiters - won best foreign film last year so we'll probably end up seeing it. Actually I do believe it is still playing at one of the local art house theatres in my neighborhood.

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