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Saturday, February 27, 2010

More movies

Watched a bunch of videos again this weekend.

Things I Never Told You was my favorite. A gem from 1996 with Andrew McCarthy perfectly cast as a sad sack 30-something and the incomparable Lili Taylor as the object of his affection. Sharp, off-beat writing and lots of sly humor (the scene with the woman sobbing in the grocery store makes the movie worth watching). Another offering from Spanish writer-director Isabel Coixet, who made The Secret Life of Words (which is darker, but also terrific).

Good Dick (2008) has a lot in common with TINTY - a somewhat anchorless man pursuing a troubled woman, though Jason Ritter (as the man) is about 10 years younger than Andrew McCarthy. This movie is not for the faint hearted - it contains quite a bit of frank sexual content. But it's clever, brave and thought-provoking; very much worth watching. And quite a coup for the writer-director-leading actress Marianna Palka - she is someone to watch!

Northanger Abby (2007) - I've never watched a version of this Jane Austen story, thinking it was too silly to be bothered with. I found it delightful. Felicity Jones was perfect as the naive Catherine and Carey Mulligan (who recently shot to fame in last year's An Education) as the selfish Isabella is, of course, superb.

The Secret Life of Mrs Beeton (2006) is a wonderful Masterpiece Theater production, based on the true story of the author of a famous "household management" book. Don't be fooled - this is no staid costume drama - it maintains a breezy tone for the first 3/4 which I thoroughly enjoyed. The final, darker section doesn't diminish the film, but it was somewhat unexpected - she dies young (which is not a spoiler - the movie opens with this fact), so I shouldn't have been so taken aback. Bonus - Mr Beeton is played by the same excellent actor (JJ Feild) who played Henry Tilney in NA.

Bonneville (2006) is a somewhat formulaic, but still entertaining road movie with 3 incredible actresses - Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Joan Allen, with a small part for Tom Skerrit. Jessica Lange's Arvilla has been recently widowed and must return the ashes of her husband from Pocatello Idaho to Santa Barbara Calif, where his daughter (Christine Baranski) lives, in time for the funeral. Adventures ensue. Worth watching mostly because women this age rarely get featured in movies as anything other than secondary or tertiary characters. Side note - the women are Mormon, though only Joan Allen's Carol is noticably so; Pocatello is when Aaron (Latter Days) was from.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief - took Cal and a couple of his friends to see this big budget movie; quite a drastic contrast to the quiet, off beat films I watched on video. But fun and well done. I haven't read any of the books, but I really enjoyed the mythology references - reminded me of all the stuff I learned in Jr Hi school. Also, Kevin McKidd makes a terrific Greek god! I also liked the dynamic between Percy and Annabeth - very feisty and the girl doesn't just stand there looking pretty and mooning at the boy. I also found the father-son story very moving. I like to imagine that my own mother was forced by Zeus to never see me - what an empowering interpretation of abandonment. Now if I could just find that camp!



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