Archive for February, 2011

23rd February
2011
written by Mad Cow

Black Swan

Aside from the cinematography this movie could have been done 70 years ago. Men (like boxers, for example) who work hard and achieve acclaim in their fields, triumph amid tears and laughter. Women, on the other hand, must be punished. Natalie Portman’s acting is wonderful even if the story is completely exasperating and the horror-movie jerky camera very annoying. Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder are good too, but all the woman-hating is too much.

Nobody told me that this movie includes an amazingly explicit lesbian sex scene! It’s really something and was about time such a scene appeared in a major motion picture. Who knew? I get why it’s part of this film, but Aronofsky really should have gifted it to The Kids are All Right, which needed it badly. But we have to take what we can get, don’t we? For a full review, go to:  black-swan

The Fighter

The ironic thing about this movie is that the fighter, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) isn’t really a fighter. He is a wimp, led around by his mother and then attaching himself to his outspoken girlfriend (Amy Adams). I dislike fight films, not only for the violence, but for those boring requisite scenes in any fighter movie, all that working out in the gym. Punch, punch, punch. Jump around. Show your muscles. You know the drill. We also could have done without his seven sisters, all of whom look the same age and none of whom seems to have any personality. They sit hip-to-hip on the couch in the middle of the afternoon doing nothing but observe their mother arguing with their brothers.

Dicky (Christian Bale) is Micky’s drug addict fight trainer. Bale has been nominated for best supporting actor, as are most actors who play out-of-the-ordinary people, particularly addicts and those with certifiable mental health issues. He does a good job, but he’s a bit over the top, not half as good as Andre Royo who played Bubbles in The Wire. I really don’t care that this is based on a true story. Not all true stories are interesting and even if they are, many just don’t make for good movies.

The incredible standout here is Melissa Leo (Frozen River) who does a fantastic job as Micky’s mother, a woman awash with drive and denial. She’s a working class woman who has clearly fought for everything she has and is determined to keep on fighting, all the while refusing to face the realities in front of her nose. Leo is riveting and gets my pick for best actress. Forget the rest. It’s a good movie but not above the competition.

Inception

This is a really good movie, and reason for the Academy to categorize types of films as does the Golden Globes, minus the TV shows. It is science fiction of the cleverest sort, but requires very different things from the actors. Christopher Nolan may give David Seidler (The King’s Speech) some competition for original screenplay. But otherwise, I don’t see it in the running. See my full review: inception

The Kids are Alright

Wow. Four nominations! (Best picture, supporting actor, actress, original screenplay). I didn’t see it coming. It was a good picture but really. The people of color in it are trashed or set aside. It’s sort of funny but not laugh-out-loud funny. It’s OK. My only joy would be seeing out-lesbian filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko pick up the award for best picture, secretly wondering how she got it. But that’s not going to happen. For a full review, go to: the-kids-are-all-right

The King’s Speech

This movie is going to walk away with almost everything, and for good reason. Its only real rival, IMHO, is The Social Network. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush are superb. Helen Bonham-Carter, as Elizabeth is very good but I question whether her performance rises to best supporting actress. See: the-kings-speech

127 Hours

This movie is wonderful and hard. James Franco’s performance is sterling, especially since he really can’t rely on a supporting casts. Furthermore, he has to maintain a steady character undergoing enormous change. It’s close, but I would choose Firth over him. See: 127-hours

The Social Network

Give the Oscar to Aron Sorkin for screenplay based on published material. This is the best dialogue I’ve heard since The West Wing, which he also wrote, and When Harry Met Sally, Nora Ephron’s masterpiece. It’s up against 127 Hours, but I’d choose this one for the prize. See: the-social-network

Toy Story 3

Does anyone really think that this picture deserves to be awarded best picture of the year? Are they nuts? This is a perfect reason to go back, running, to the nomination of just 5 films for best picture. It’s been nominated for best animated feature and that’s where it belongs. It does not hold a candle, either, to 127 Hours or The Social Network for best screenplay based on material previously published. The movie is good, although a bit frenetic, with some amusing scenes. Against its animated competitors, I admit I don’t know how it holds up to The Illusionist and How to Train Your Dragon.

True Grit

The Coen brothers sure are smart. This remake is crafted to be a conventional western, a tongue-in-cheek ride, and a regular movie all at the same time. Their work is always interesting. The photography is quite good, with many wooded scenes missing from most wilder and further west movies. Violence, of course, goes with the territory of a Coen movie, but we are spared the carnage of No Country for Old Men. Unfortunately, we are not spared Jeff Bridges, who has found a niche in playing the same role he did in Crazy Heart, only he has a gun and is an amazing drunken sharpshooter. Matt Damon fares better as does Hailee Steinfeld, but her performance comes through as nothing very special. Pick: It’s a big enough honor that they were nominated. No need to give the cigar.

Winter’s Bone

Ok, then. Here is another movie that can be considered “good,” but why it’s on the nomination list for best picture is beyond me. There are some great performances, but, well, I haven’t changed my mind: See  winters-bone

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