About Me

Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Waltz with Bashir

The incongruity of an animated war movie never wears off during the 90 minutes of this Israeli film. It's no less surprising to see cartoon corpses toward the end of the movie as it is to see the hard-bitten veterans, smoking and trading war stories, at the beginning.

The movie deals in an unexpected way with memory and the tricks it plays on us -- especially after a traumatic experience, such as war. And, especially to those who have been the aggressors in war.

It's easy enough for the viewer to distance himself from the atrocities of war when they're rendered in cartoon form. But, that may be precisely the film maker's point. People will do whatever is necessary to distance themselves from a painful memory. In the case of some of the Israeli soldiers depicted in the film, that includes erasing their own memory of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

Yet, the nightmares of one character doom him to relive the hell of war night after night. When he confides in another veteran, it prompts him to seek out the truth from others involved in the massacre of innocent civilians.

Filled with indelible comic book imagery of man's inhumanity to man, Waltz with Bashir suggests that war lives on in those who have fought ... long after the battle is over. See it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's Oscar Day!

It's the most bestest day of the whole year. Each year on the Friday before the Oscars, I begin to get a little jittery and a lot excited. As if I myself am up for best actress -- or best screenplay, as is my real dream. I think about hosting an Oscar party, but then I think how rude it would be for me to shush my guests as I try to listen to all the speeches. Uninterrupted. I'm Serious about the Oscars.

Oh, I've had my Oscar moments. At one particularly fun party (the hostess wove film into her fancy floral arrangements and had each of the guests place bets on their picks), I bet my entire pile of Monopoly money that Hilary Swank would forget to thank her two-bit, made-for-TV movie husband, Chad Lowe. Even back in the day of Boys Don't Cry, I knew Hilary was destined to outgrow Rob's less-famous, less-talented younger brother.

Sure enough. She thanked her agent, the director, her mom (for living out of a car while toting Hilary to Hollywood auditions), the craft service staff, her makeup artist, literally everyone associated with the film. Everyone at the party began handing me their wads of play money, when Hilary said, "WAIT! I almost forgot to thank ..." People retracted their money, as we all awaited Hilary's teary tribute to Chad. But, she said, " ... Brandon Teena, the real-life character I played in the movie."

My BFF, Todd, hooted, "Oh my God, she thanked a DEAD PERSON! She left her husband out and thanked a dead person!" The money and the glory were mine.

I live for Oscar moments like this.

And I fear Oscar moments like this: Helen Hunt's win for As Good as it Gets. What a dreadful movie and what a lame, ought-to-be-limited-to-Lifetime-movies actress she is. Her performance, where she used a bad Brooklyn accent in exactly three scenes, was atrocious. I'm still mad, just thinking about her inexplicable win.

Let's hope there's no mistake of Helen Hunt proportions tonight. And, let's hope there's a brief, shining moment where someone forgets to thank his/her spouse and I get to collect a bunch of money because of it.

If you decided to read my blog today, I imagine it's because you're wondering what my picks are. So, here they are, for the biggies:

Best Picture
If I had my way: The Visitor (Alas, it will not win, since it is not nominated. My second choice is Milk.)
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire

Best Actor
If I had my way: Sean Penn (Milk)
Prediction: Sean Penn

Best Actress
If I had my way: Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
Prediction: Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Best Supporting Actor
If I had my way: Robert Downey, Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Prediction: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

Best Supporting Actress
If I had my way: Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Prediction: Viola Davis (Doubt)

Best Director
If I had my way: Gus Van Sant (Milk)
Prediction: Danny Boyle (Slumdog)

Enjoy the show!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Last Chance Harvey

I am predisposed to enjoy any movie set in London, so Last Chance Harvey already had that going for it. But, it is especially refreshing to see a love story concerning people of a certain age.

Dustin Hoffman (Harvey) is at his sad sack-y best as a lonely, divorced American -- past his prime in business and every other way -- whose only daughter is getting married in London. Emma Thompson (Kate) is just as lonely, but she hasn't managed to alienate nearly everyone around her, as has Harvey. We know from their very first brief scene together (when Harvey rudely brushes off a question from Kate) where this story is headed, but that doesn't make the trip any less enjoyable. Sweet and expertly acted, if a little predictable. See it.