Friday, August 20, 2010

What I've been watching:

Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill
Originally made in 1975 and presented on PBS Jennie is the story of Winston Churchill’s mother. The production qualities of the DVD seem a bit like a filmed theater set with the sound diminished when the actors’ back is turned. In spite of this, the film presents a remarkable story winning many awards in its time for both the film and for Lee Remicks performance.

Clint Eastwood is a great director and you can always count on his films to be good. This was no exception. I was impressed that both Freeman and Damon disappeared into their characters. This was a film about a great man and an important event—it was not a star vehicle. Bravo Clint!

I hadn’t heard of this film before and I don’t know why. It was truly an exciting, edge of your seat film. It was also a film that makes you think and leads to a great discussion. Just what was unthinkable in this film? Let me know what you think.

Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School
At the request of a dying man, a widower attends a dance class. Here he not only learns to dance but also gains the confidence to overcome his loss and to become a participant in life again. This was a somewhat sad but mostly charming little movie.

Hot Tub Time Machine
Four guys take a trip to their old 1986 hangout/ski lodge. They get in the hot tub, get drunk, spill some kind of weird liquid into the hot tub motor and find themselves back in 1986 where they have to re-live this eventful night or they will not be able to return to the present. Sounds familiar…have I seen this before? Kind of reminds me of Back to the Future. Anyway…this film also reminded me just how old I am which is too old to appreciate gross humor. I love John Cusack but projectile vomiting on a poor little squirrel just isn’t funny. Even Cusack looked a little uncomfortable in this film. I know it’s a funny film and it has a nice ending but it doesn’t make any of my best of… lists.

North Face
In 1936 Germany wanted to impress the world by being the first country to reach the peak of Mt. Eiger in Switzerland. Two young men, experienced climbers both, set out—not for the glory of their country, but as a challenge to themselves. This was an extremely exciting, well-made movie. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen!

Greenberg, Ben Stiller, gets out of a psychiatric hospital and has a hard time connecting with people. And….? I’m not sure what the fuss was about this movie. I thought it was a little film about not much of anything. Yes, I found Greta Gerwig’s Florence to be an endearing character but so what? I need a story to grab onto and I couldn’t find one in this film.

A Prophet
I wasn’t sure I wanted to see this film—I mean who wants to see yet another prison film? But I found that once I started watching I couldn’t stop. The story is about a young Arabic man in prison. He is trapped by the “head” prisoner, the leader of the Corsican gang, and forced to work for him, both as a servant and doing dangerous jobs including killing another prisoner. As time passes he becomes more important to the Corsican leader, doing more and more dangerous jobs, and because he is smart, he figures out all the angles to become the “head” prisoner himself. The cinematography was sensational! He did some interesting things with the visual look of the film including presenting the visions, or dreams, sometimes in a sepia tone, half screen, slowed down fast motion (?). I really can’t describe it but it was really cool! I found the film mesmerizing.

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