Thursday, January 22, 2009

New movies: Valkyrie, Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, Gran Torino

Lately I’ve made it to a few of the films that have been making everyone’s top ten list but were only recently released. I saw Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise as a Nazi party member plotting to kill Hitler. I was completely unimpressed by the film: it was missing all of the suspense that I expect to see in a film of this sort. It told the story but failed to get me involved. Then I saw Slumdog Millionaire which rightly deserves all of the praise it has received. It was a tremendous film with a lot of heart. I particularly loved the dancing at the end. Next I saw Milk starring Sean Penn as gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. Having seen the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk I wondered why Gus Van Sant felt he needed to make the film because the story was told so well in the documentary. But, it’s 2009 and no one is likely to go back and look at a film from 1984. Plus, Sean Penn’s a big draw. And it’s an important story that deserves to be told to younger generations. And in the end, it was very well done. Sean Penn was great. It made me proud to be of that generation even though I was not involved in that particular battle.
Finally, I saw Gran Torino. I was expecting a violent film. What I got was a funny film with a lot of heart. Of course, the humor was all completely politically incorrect but it was mostly tongue-in-cheek. After having seen these films, I’d throw out Valkyrie but I would definitely add the other 3 films to my top ten list bringing my total to 12 best films of the year. There are still a bunch of movies in town I want to see so if I actually make it to any of them maybe my top ten list will grow even more. Maybe Roger Ebert is correct that it was a great year for films but I still object to having all the great films released in December and January.

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