Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Oscars: two wins and one loss

February 22nd, 2009

Perhaps it wasn’t a bold prediction, but I picked Slumdog Millionaire to win Best Picture and it did. Bravo! (Win #1) Although Sean Penn was indeed terrific in Milk, I was sad that Micky Rourke did not win Best Actor for the Wrestler. (Loss #1)

But the unexpected win for the Oscars: the new format. (Win #2) I loved having previous winners make the case for each of the nominees. The new format was much more compelling than the short clips and voice overs they had in previous years. (Although Halle Berry did make a somewhat awkward speech by talking about herself, rather than the nominee.)

A few other notes. Thank goodness Benjamin Button only won a few minor awards–what an aweful movie. Thank goodness Revelutionary Road got bageled. Loved Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Understandable but sad that Frost Nixon did not win anything, but it was a very good film too.

I’ve never watched the Awards ceremony before because I found it unwatchable. I enjoyed it this year’s ceremony, which befits one of the best crop of movies I can remember in a long while.

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona

February 10th, 2009

I think Woody Allen is back. I liked Match Point a lot, but I liked Vicky Cristina Barcelona even more. Like Revolutionary Road, this movie critically examines whether modern success has meaning or if it is just a hollow notion. But unlike Revolutionary Road, though, it explores the fundamental tradeoffs–some positive and some negative–that alternative ideas of success (i.e. leading an “interesting life”) may have. In addition, it further complicates the question by comparing two women who value things in life differently.

And it doesn’t hurt that the movie has nice comedic moments too. The acting is very good, and the plot moves at a nice pace. Penelope Cruz is fantastic as the crazy ex-wife. Not quite awards material with so much stiff competition this year, but very much worth watching!

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But how do you *feel*?

February 6th, 2009

That’s one of the questions that Leonardo DiCaprio repeatedly asks Kate Winslet in the movie Revolutionary Road. It’s pretty well done, so I guess I can see why some critics and viewers would like it. But I thought it was a bit slow for my taste. Leonardo’s character had a fair amount of depth, but Kate’s character was almost singularly sad. This movie earns no award votes from me.

And how did it make me feel? Depressed!

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Over-rated, Overdone & Totally Missable: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

January 27th, 2009

I am trying to watch all the major Oscar nominees, and so of course, I had to watch this year’s most-nominated film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The premise is weird: Benjamin is born an old man in 1918 and grows younger throughout the film. What might make a passable short story, however, is an interminable 2 hr 43 min movie. The plot is completely disjointed and the point, if there is one, is captured in Brad Pitt’s obvious, trite statement: “I was just thinking about how nothing lasts…and what a shame that is….”

Unlike Benjamin Button, you and I grow older if we waste our time watching pointless movies. So, skip this movie when there are so many other good ones currently out in theaters for your viewing pleasure.

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And the winner is…

January 21st, 2009

In the past week, I have watched three great movies: Milk, Gran Torino and Slumdog Millionaire.

From Milk, I learned a lot about San Francisco history and the gay movement. Sean Penn was fantastic as Harvey Milk. I also realized that as much as I support gay rights, I have an uncontrollable aversion to watching men kissing other men. That insight has made me more interested in seeing whether such unconscious acts of discrimination translate into more meaningful decisions, like at the ballot box or for hiring decisions.

From Gran Torino, I learned an interesting lesson about violence, life and death. Clint Eastwood is fantastic. The movie moves along slowly, which is obviously intentional but almost had me giving up before the end. But that would have been a mistake, because the ending is terrific.

But my hands down pick is Slumdog Millionaire. It’s the best movie I have seen in years. Gripping story. Incredibly cinematography. Tremendous climax. (Here’s an interesting post about the ending for people who have already seen the movie.) As I saw on someone’s Facebook status update, “Slumdog Millionaire lives up to the hype. Great movie.” And my clear favorite for Best Picture of the Year.

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