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the island of conclusions

I should've seen Warrior...

the island of conclusions

bright star

I should've seen Warrior...

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I had one of my boy-less weekends, and apparently what I did with it was…see movies. I’m not entirely sure it was time well spent.

Saturday night D. and I went to see The Help because…well, mostly because it seemed the thing to do. I’m not from the south, though I live here now, so I can’t speak to how well it caught the feel of things. My round-the-corner neighbors, who did grow up here, loved the movie, so that seemed reason enough to see it.

So, the first, and maybe most important thing, to say about it is that Viola Davis is fantastic. Without all that much help from the script or direction she gets you to believe in someone who has no desire to be a hero, is diffident at best about making waves, but who has such a strong personal moral code that when she’s pushed too far, she’s courageous in a quiet but extremely moving way. She’s not afraid to look clumsy or old or abject (though she’s gorgeous) and it’s all shot through with so much warmth and humor. She really carries the movie.

Otherwise, the acting is good, but and I’m all for movies that show the domestic ramifications of political upheaval, but it’s all a little pat. After a while it reminded me of nothing so much—and forgive the irreverence—as Bridesmaids does the Civil Rights Movement, except with a little less emotional nuance.

Also, long. We went to an 8:40 show and didn’t get out of the theater ‘til 11:15.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I saw Midnight in Paris with K. Which was pretty insanely amusing if you get a kick out of Hemingway and Dali impersonations. Which I do. But if you haven’t seen it, you can get the gist of it from this voice recording of Allen’s 2-minute stand-up routine on “The Lost Generation” from the sixties.

And last week, for my sins, I watched the nu!Brideshead Revisted. Remember how taken I was with Ben Whishaw in The Hour? So, then I got curious about how he’d done with Sebastian Flyte. And the answer is, imo, that he does fine, he’s a very good actor, but he’s strangely miscast. I think the thing that stands out about his performances in The Hour and Bright Star is the sheer voltage of energy coming out of a seemingly frail frame. He doesn’t do quite as well with Sebastian’s kind of passive dreaminess. That said, his last scenes, the ones in Morocco, are almost unbearably touching.

As for the rest of the movie, well, all I can say is it makes you miss Jeremy Irons like crazy. The guy playing Charles – Matthew Goode, who I know has gotten good reviews in other things – comes off as a tone-deaf lummox, and he and the Julia kind of galumph around their scenes with minimum charm and grace. Emma Watson is fabulous, but it’s depressing watching her play someone so old. Michael Gambon makes the most of the 30 seconds of screen time he has.

But really, rent the old one, or read the book, if you get the urge.

The weather was gorgeous, and I did manage to swim outside and run in my excellent new Vibram five fingers, so all was not lost to dark cinemas.

Hope you all had a good weekend!
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    • lol--The Help could actually have used more MMF fighting. Also more tattoos. And more Tom Hardy, it goes without saying.

      The new Brideshead isn't horrifically bad--and kind of an interestingly different interpretation of the book--but it might make you miss the old one, just saying.

      Yes--Warrior next time I get a chance!!
  • Ben Whishaw interests me hugely... I watched him first in Perfume, where he was amazingly scary. I have my own issues with The Hour (Journalist, it's all professional), but he was the best thing about it. But Brideshead disappointed me all around. Not just because I found the performances sub-par which I did, but because I found the entire narrative reduced to (as a friend put it) Catholic Guilt and Homosexuality (capitalization intended). The nuances of the book and the TV series were completely missing. Despite that I am interested in seeing what Whishaw does next
    • He interests me hugely too! Especially after I realized he was the same guy who was in Bright Star (it took me a good episode of The Hour to realize that *facepalm*).

      Is Perfume worth watching? I haven't read the book. And I'm a little scared to watch him be so scary, if you know what I mean...

      Have you seen Bright Star? He's really impressive--you wouldn't think someone could take the role of Dying Romantic Poet and make it engaging and plausible, but he actually does. And the pairing of him and Abbie Cornish works in much the same way as him and Romola Garai, he's seems in love with the sheer solidity and lushness of her...(which is a nice thing in an industry that usual pairs hulking guys with tiny women)

      I can see how The Hour would be annoying if you had a better sense of the world they were trying to portray--but, yeah, I agree, there was some great acting, but BW stole the show.

      And I completely agree about nu!Brideshead--especially the capitalization. It wasn't horrible, but it just seemed so ham-fisted, and completely lacking in chemistry...

      I'm not sure what BW is doing next (he's on stage in NY atm)--he's in the Cloud Atlas, which is another book I haven't read!
      • Weeell... Recommending Perfume unreservedly is very difficult because it's an unrelentingly macabre plot. But the cinematography is amazing and the cast is stellar... Rickman, Hoffman, Whishaw... And he pretty much owns the movie...

        I agree that a part of his appeal is that delicate fragile beauty combined with an almost ferocious on-screen presence, and Perfume uses that very very well. Alas, I have been unhappily unable to snag a decent copy of Julie Taymors Tempest with Helen Mirren as Prospero and Whishaw as Ariel, where again I believe he is outstanding.

        I have seen Bright Star, and I loved him in it. Keats is not Byron or Shelley, those handsome aristocrats of Regency London, that Hollywood actors would love to play. Whishaw was lovely and vulnerable and strong and sexy, and it was totally understandable why Cornish fancied him... It was equally understandable why he fancied her, she was smart, and quirky and fuuny and had the kind of lovely voluptuous perfection that would draw a man who'd battled disease his entire life. Such a good film

        I have read Cloud Atlas. Interesting, but very dense, and I'm not sure how it'll translate on screen, but Whishaw has been consistently impressive so far.
        • Perfume does sound tempting! It's not easily streamable, so involves an actual trip to the video store, but I will put it on my list.

          I'm curious about The Tempest, too. The pictures I've seen of it have been gorgeous--and doesn't he don breasts at some point?--I randomly saw a link for a dl of it today--shall I pm it to you? I hate loading whole movies onto my pc, but maybe I'll give it a try

          Oh, your description makes me want to see Bright Star again!
          • Oooh. Yes please, I would be very very grateful for a dl link. Also, would it be ok if I friend you?
            • yes, of course--we must continue to speak of these things XD

              I think I might do most of my Fassy ranting under flock for reasons of embarrassment...
  • Mine was pretty good, thank you. Birthday party for one of my kid's friends on Saturday, a very long playdate with another of his friends at my house on Sunday. When did three kids in the same house get so exhausting? Oh, yeah, since I've started having to get up at 6:30 AM on weekdays to take Jav to school... :)
    • so, wall-to-wall boys, then ;) Mine are usually like that, a kind of seething tide of kids washing through the house, eating stuff...it was nice to have a few days off!

      and yeah, I haven't adjusted to having to get up before 7 to get everyone to school either :(
      • It was actually my boy and two girls, but it hardly matters, I tell ya.

        Getting up before seven is horrible. Of course, then having to (sometimes literally!) roll my son out of bed to wake him up is even worse.
        • for the first 3-4 years of his life, my older son got up every morning at 5--and now I have to drag him out of bed at 7:30 for school. Urgh!

          There have been times in my life when I've enjoyed getting up before 7, but this is not one of them--

          *hug of sympathy*
  • Yeah, those were my feelings about The Help. I thought it was beautifully acted for the most part, though I was not as much a fan of Bryce Dallas Howard as I've been in the past. Viola Davis more than made up for it. I also had a couple of other reservations. I felt that the book and the movie weren't as strong as they might have been because neither grounded the story very concretely in the social, economic and legal apparatus used to support segregation. Many laws used to disempower household workers were clearly part and parcel of this apparatus and the anecdotes related didn't really adequately establish precisely what the maids were facing. It doesn't have to be a history lesson, but there are ways of feeding information in that might have helped.

    I do think that there's an important story to tell about civil rights era work done across color and class lines, and both works highlighted that aspect. But I think it's also equally important to tell that story very carefully as not to obscure or diminish the agency of the African-American men and women who bore the brunt of the prejudice and had the most to lose in the struggle. I rather thought that both fell flat in that respect, but it's not a simple story by any means at all.
    • And Ben Whitshaw is lovely, lovely, lovely, but I can't quite see him as Sebastian. I don't really know why, however. I should see the new version of Brideshead

      I have many thoughts about Dead Ringers, and they do weirdly intersect with other thoughts on A Dangerous Method and Shame, which I'm going to think about without having seen or without being able to see for some time. As a result, I fear I'll have to work something about Freud, Cronenberg, Erotic Degradation and Michael Fassbender into the title because who'd miss such an opportunity? Other than someone with a tad more of a life?
      • No--you're quite right about BW--he doesn't make the best Sebastian--he doesn't come off as particularly aristocratic, for one thing (which is why he makes a great Keats), and for another, either he just makes more romantic sparks with women than men (whatever the truth is about his personal life) or he doesn't have much chemistry for the somewhat leaden Matthew Goode. No real reason to see the movie except curiousity.

        something about Freud, Cronenberg, Erotic Degradation and Michael Fassbender
        Now that's something I'd like to read--whatever form it took! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
    • Yes--that's really well put, and explains why I really wanted just a little more attention played to the actual legal battles going on at the same time, no matter how much everyone in the movie seemed to be ignoring them.

      Since most of the white girlswomen were such witches, I thought the movie (I haven't read the book) came dangerously close to implying that if if the white ladies had only been nicer to their black maids everything would have been okay. When really, no matter how nice everyone was to one another, there was still institutionalized oppression and discrimination going on. urgh.

      But, yeah, as you say, it's a worthy topic, and not an easy story to tell.
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