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Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's been awhile since I posted anything on this blog. As they say "Not much to write home about." The last film I saw in the theaters was A Single Man. A trip to the Brainard Rd. cinemas was well worth the drive. This is one of my favorite theaters where you can always find a great film. I noticed A Single Man is showing locally this week and it is well worth the price of a ticket. Not for everyone, A Single Man the movie is based on A Single Man the book by Christopher Isherwood. The book is considered his tour de force and seminal novel about the modern gay movement. The film is beautifully crafted and impeccably staged. Colin Firth is outstanding as he works his way through the devastating loss of his companion of 17 years. The loss is so devastating that on this one day, he sees suicide as his only relief. Set in Los Angeles in 1962, the story is told in part through flashbacks sprinkled with moments of wit and fun. Normal moments in life are contrasted vividly with profound moments of loss. It's about love and loss in a world that will not allow his grief to be acknowledged. Hope is seen in the end but only for a moment. Colin Firth deserves his Oscar nomination.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

As we get closer and closer to Oscar night I've been trying to work through the list of nominees. Jeff Bridges' performance as Bad Blake in Crazy Heart is a must see. Although I had trouble with the story missing some critical parts, his performance is definitely Oscar worthy. He brought to life this lost country singer as he slips further and further into a world consumed by alcohol. The film is all about him, a country music musican and song writer pushed aside by his younger collaborator who finds himself unable to write and record. Left to singing in dives, he exists on drink, smoke, fast food and faster women. He's endearing, he's vulnerable, he's lost and we all love a character who saves himself and reaches his full potential. Jeff Bridges is the one to beat. See it! Oh what wonderful music, too.

Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer deserve the Oscar nominations for best actress and best supporting actor. The film The Last Station examines the last years of Tolstoy's life as his wife Sofya vies for control of his literary output against his Tolstoyan confident Vladimir Chertkov. The Last Station is based on the 1990 biographical novel by Jay Parini. Mirren displays her considerable talent playing Sofya, a sharp, well-educated, strong-minded, passionate and sensual woman deeply in love with her husband struggling to keep him while struggling to keep control of all his copyrights. Their marriage was filled with great passion at first and equally great rejection at the end. Fighting constantly over Chertkov's influence, the Tolstoyans adoration and Tolstoy's will, their marriage finally crumbles. Seeking peace and solace in order to write, Tolstoy, with a small entourage, creeps away in the dead of night fearing another of Sofya's emotional outbursts. Ill with pneumonia, he dies in a train station in Astapova Russia. The film captures the Russian wealthy, the Tolstoyan life and the paparazzi of 1910. See it. It's very well done.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Academy Award announcements this week were no surprise, but in a year of very few extraordinary films, why did the Academy decide to extend the best film category to 10? I have not see all the films yet but I am chipping away at the list. When I think of Best Picture films, I think the film must be the best example of American film making in any given year. It has to have the best story, the best acting, the best cinematography, the best editing, just the best in every category, not just the best hyped film. I do have my current favorites An Education, Inglourious Basterds and Up in the Air. Of these three, my vote goes to Inglourious Basterds. I liked the other two very much, but Inglourious Basterds is by far the most compelling. Tarantino is not my favorite director but this film was right on...compelling characters, compelling story, and compelling actors all lending their incredible talents to create an incredible story infused with palpable fear and riveting images. Christopher Waltz certainly deserves the accolades. It is a film that will stay with you for days. Don't miss it. It is really a big screen picture but a DVD will do the trick too.

I'm waiting to see The Hurt Locker on DVD. I missed it in the theaters. Films dealing with the current conflict in Iraq are not my favorite, so I let it slip by. The buzz has been incredible but Avatar seems to be stealing its thunder now. Of these two, my vote goes to The Hurt Locker, after all, if it gets the Best Picture award, it will be the first film directed by a woman to win. Kathryn Bigelow, once married to James Cameron from 1989 to 1991, has paid her dues with films like: Mission Zero, K-19: the Widowmaker, The Weight of Water. Her first full-length film was in 1982 and her films are all know for their kinetic action and technical dazzle. Get on the reserve list if you have seen it yet.