I was really sick last week. Chest cold. Fever. Headache. I went down early Wednesday afternoon and didn’t surface until Friday morning. Had not been feeling well for about a week prior. Continued to feel poorly even after getting around. This morning is kind of the first morning that I feel like I can accomplish something in the day. I woke at 5:55. I’ve been having trouble sleeping through the night because of my sinus problems. Maybe I have a deviated septum. I’m snoring so loud I wake myself up. Sometimes I wake up because I can’t breathe, choking on mucus. It kinda sucks. Will a neti pot help sort this out? Will I ever be “normal” again?
So in the lead up to Oscar, and having been feeling poorly and listless, I’ve been watching movies like a person getting paid to watch movies. I need to see Michael Clayton and Sweeney Todd still in order to accomplish my goal of seeing all the big Oscar buzz films before the awards night. But I haven’t just been watching nominated pictures, I’ve been watching a little bit of everything. Recently I’ve watched:
30 Days of Night – Yes, I crush on Josh Hartnett, which makes me a little bias, and though the vampires are a whole lot less sexy than the ones I normally enjoy, I liked this movie. The concept of vampires descending upon an Alaskan town when they’re in their month without sunshine is simple and brilliant. Why didn’t anyone think of that before? Why didn’t I think of that?! Yes, the vampires are butt ugly and the look of the film is necessarily dark and dull given that it takes place without sun in winter in Alaska and the story is predictable in that whole “Night of the Living Dead” kind of way, but nevertheless I enjoyed watching this. I think if you like vampire movies in general, you’ll like this one.
Feast of Love – I love Greg Kinnear! I mean I really love him. Who would have thunk back in the days of TalkSoup that the man could act? He’s so good at being the completely oblivious self-absorbed average everyday Joe. I didn’t have high expectations going into this movie, maybe that helps, I dunno, but it touched me, and got me thinking about life and love and family, and I cried toward the end. But don’t movies with Morgan Freeman always make you cry a bit? Make time to see this one.
In the Valley of Elah – Paul Haggis’ contribution this year didn’t get him an Academy nod but Tommy Lee Jones is up for Best Actor. Impressive cast in this one, including Susan Sarandon, Charlize Theron, Josh Brolin, Jason Patric, and James Franco. It’s based upon a true story of a soldier who disappeared after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. I’m at a bit of a loss for what to say about this one. Paul Haggis has this subtle way of delving into complex human issues that isn’t over the top and in your face but yet you can’t help but see it for what it is. He lays facts bare without adding judgment. This isn’t an anti-war film, but it will get you thinking about war in a way that maybe you haven’t before. If you enjoyed Crash, then you’ll want to see this one, if you didn’t then maybe this one isn’t for you either.
Redacted – Brian De Palma’s take on the war in Iraq is another kettle of fish all together. Controversial to say the least, this will definitely not be for everyone. The film is put together like a documentary montage of footage shot by soldiers and various news media. Lots of hand held scenes, security video footage, etc. The story is about American soldiers raping and killing a 14-year-old Iraqi girl. It’s very real and disturbing. I think it’s courageous and necessary.
Rendition – Ok, so it seems like I’m watching nothing but war movies, but hey, maybe there are just a whole lot more war movies out there these days. And this one is not really about the war, but more about terrorism. I kinda wanted to see this one just to see if Reese and Jake had any obvious chemistry. But unfortunately they don’t share a single scene together so who knows how they even managed to meet during the filming of this. I don’t know why, but I had absolutely zero expectation for this movie. But it’s really a good movie, surprisingly. Meryl Streep is an absolutely bone-chilling bitch in this one. Worth watching just to see her performance. I haven’t been a big Jake Gyllenhaal fan up til now, but he kind of won me over in this one. And I love Reese Witherspoon no matter what she does. In this movie she’s married to an Egyptian man who gets on a flight from North Africa to come home to his family after a business trip and never arrives at the gate. It’s engaging and there are some plot twists I didn’t see coming. It’s another one that leaves you thinking about the state of the world right now. Kinda heavy. But I thought it was definitely worth seeing.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – I’ve wanted to see this one for a long time now. Brad Pitt as Jesse James, can there be any better fit?! Nah! But when Oscar nods came down and Casey Affleck was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, I admit I was a bit . . . skeptical and stunned. Casey Affleck? C’mon! You’ve got to be kidding! I mean big brother Ben has moments of brilliance but I’ve not seen anything in Casey to indicate anything other than a kid getting a free ride on his sibling’s coat tails . . . until now! Oh my freaking God! The Best Supporting Actor category is tough this year, but Casey Affleck totally deserves the nod from the Academy. See this movie! I think he’s brilliant. Now if you’re into the western genre and looking for a shoot-em-up outlaw type flick, this one’s not gonna do it for you. I didn’t know much about how Jesse James came to meet his final demise, and that’s what this story’s about. It’s interesting. It’s sad. It’s the kind of movie that propels me immediately into action as soon as the final credits roll, Googling everything I can find on the James Gang and Robert Ford. If you like those kinds of movies, then you’ll love this one.
The Heartbreak Kid – So after all that drama a girl needs to chill and have a laugh, so who does she turn to? The Farrelly Brothers of course! I don’t know that they’ll ever be able to top There’s Something About Mary, but they never seem to blow it completely for me, so watching one of their movies isn’t much of a risk. I pretty much know going in what I’m going to get and this one was no exception. Ben Stiller is a guy afraid to commit who goes a little freaky after attending the wedding of his ex on Valentine’s Day and pretty much marries the first single girl he meets. I enjoy Ben Stiller! And real life dad, Jerry, plays his father in the movie, which is like a double whammy for me. I enjoy Jerry Stiller! I don’t know if this was one of those movies where you saw all the funny parts in the previews or not, because I don’t watch much traditional tv with commercials, so I hadn’t seen any of the funny parts. And there were some funny parts. This is a great movie to watch when you just want to kick back with a glass of wine and giggle without having to think.
Rambo – Yes, I voluntarily subjected myself to this movie. Not only that, but I sought it out, I chose it over an endless quantity of movies I could have watched instead. You see, back in the days of First Blood I was a big fan of the John Rambo franchise. I had the Rambo video game and spent entire months of my lifetime being John Rambo and trying to free POWs. So when Sly said he was making another one, I was so on board with that! Rambo is still the strong silent cool guy. He’s too old for the girl, which kind of surprised me but at the same time props to Sly for that. The plot is . . . well, you know, the same plot as all the others–Rambo goes behind enemy lines to perform a daring rescue as only he can do. There’s a lot of action in this one. A lot! I very much would like to see the earlier ones now to see if they relied so heavily on action scenes or if there was more going on. So it wasn’t great, I wasn’t as pleasantly surprised as I was by the most recent John McClane excursion, but by the end I was satisfied that Rambo had moved on and now so could I.
10 MPH – By accident I stumbled onto this documentary film about two guys who quit corporate America to live their dream of becoming film-makers and decide to experience the USA unlike anyone else before by crossing the country on a Segway riding from Seattle to Boston. What a neat little movie! It’s so inspiring to see how strangers welcome and help them. The road is not easy. They max out their credit cards, cash in all their retirement savings, it takes everything they have in order to complete the journey. They sacrifice everything to realize their dream. Able only to go 10 mph, they cross the country on roads not normally traversed by coast to coast travellers. They pass through towns that are normally by-passed by the interstate highways. They ride through some of the roughest neighborhoods America’s cities have to offer. And they find that people are people no matter where they live. I have no idea whether you can see this movie anywhere but online, but if it pops up on the Independent Film Channel or in a theatre near you or if you watch things online like I do, then give this one a look. It’s all about slowing down and doing what’s important to you. And that’s a message I can’t hear enough.
Meet Market – This is one of those direct-to-dvd releases I think. If not, it probably should be. The plot centres around lonely LA singles hooking up in their local grocery store. Well, I’ll say this for it, it’s not Cameron Crowe’s Singles, which I love, love, love! No, this one is nothing like that one. Why not just skip this one all together and instead once again bask in the brilliance that is Cameron Crowe. “Meet Market” is worth watching if you catch it as the late, late show on a Sunday night when you’re in the grips of insomnia and you know you have to get up early for a Monday breakfast meeting. Yep, it’ll help you get to sleep!
Cold Heart Canyon – Wow! I don’t even know how I started watching this and why I continued watching through the end. I was sick. I was weak. It took more effort to get off the couch and turn it off than it did to lie and watch it. This is a terrible movie. I think it suffers from an identity crises. The movie wasn’t sure whether it wanted to be a Harlequin Presents featurette, a psycho-thriller, or a porno. And there are all these flashback moments and extended scenes that have absolutely no bearing on the movie, you gotta wonder what’s going on. For some reason the film maker needed to add time to the movie? I dunno. If you stumble across this one in a discount bin, do not pick it up, stumble right on past.
Things We Lost in the Fire – David Duchoveny, Halle Berry, and Benicio Del Toro. Need I say more. That’s pretty much all the ingredients I need for a recipe of movie I will enjoy. Halle is the recent widow of David who invites the former heroin addict best friend Benicio to move in with her and her two kids. To be completely honest, I haven’t watched the whole thing yet. Not because I’m not drawn into the story, but because I experienced technical difficulties. I watched about 3/4 of the movie though and I liked it. Unless the ending screws up the whole thing for me, which I can’t conceive that it will, I give this one the thumbs up. It’s another that gives me pause and makes me think. What if?
Lars and the Real Girl – And in the tradition of saving the best for last, I’ve saved the best for last. Run, don’t walk, and see this movie! I cannot imagine why this movie was only nominated for one Oscar (Best Original Screenplay). Robbed!! This was one of the most unique and entertaining movies I’ve seen in a very long time. Ryan Gosling is absolutely brilliant and I think should have been nominated for Best Actor as Lars, a delusional young man who buys a sex doll on the Internet and brings her home as his girlfriend. I laughed out loud. I edged closer to the screen. And yes, I even shed tears, as I watched this. It’s quirky, yet realistic, and it’s got a lot of heart. This is one of the best movies of 2007. Hands down. If you haven’t seen it, you’re gonna love it!
Wow! I sure can watch a lot of movies in a couple of days when I decide to spend all my time doing nothing but watching movies. Huh? And as for me and the real boy, we’ll have to wait and see.
Listening To: electrical appliance humming