Sunday, January 18, 2009

Movie Talk

A couple of quick bits on recent movies:

I seem to be the only person to not like Slumdog Millionaire. I mean, it's OK. It's not a bad movie. But I felt like it was all premise. There's limited real character development, which is made up for by lots of cheap emotionalism (oh, look at those poor kids! oh, how could do they do that to the poor woman!), and a breezy good time. I know Sarah loved it, as does everyone else, but I was left thinking I had seen a fine movie but one that was eminently forgettable. It's like the Shine of the late 2000s. Everyone loved the story immediately after they saw it and then forgot about it 15 minutes later. Has anyone actually watched that movie in the last 5 years? Anyone on the face of the earth? I feel that by 2010, that will be the public reaction to Slumdog.

I did like Synecdoche, New York a good bit. I wonder if you can interpret the movie as basically a bad dream. Here's Philip Seymour Hoffman, a hypochondriac, struggling through a bad marriage, and with a lot of anxiety about his art. He goes to bed and dreams about what we all dream about--nightmarish futures for our relationships, sickness and death, exaggerated problems with our future lives (in his case his theater productions). Just a thought. Also, it's great to see so many fantastic women in this movie. Why don't we see Jennifer Jason Leigh more? Why isn't Emily Watson in every movie that comes out? Catherine Keener basically is in every movie and thank god for it. I can't agree with Trend that it is as good as Eternal Sunshine. However, it does comparably favorably with that film because Kauffman moved away from the gimmick and just let his weird story ride without artifice or explanation. Still, whereas Eternal Sunshine is a masterpiece, Synecdoche is just very good.

I also liked Rachel Getting Married, even if it felt like an updated version of Interiors with better music and hand-held camera. Speaking of forgotten actresses, it sure was good to see Debra Winger again. I'm pretty mixed on the addict genre, but I thought Jonathan Demme handled the whole film with a steady hand and coaxed a good performance out of Anne Hathaway that I didn't think she had in her. Sometimes, the depression got laid on a little thick and some of the scenes dragged a bit, but these are minor complaints. And this movie seriously had the best music of any fictional film I'd seen in a very long time. I think all films should have cameos from Fab Five Freddy.

I am excited to see The Wrestler and Gran Torino next, and might see Let the Right One In too, even though I'm not big on the horror movies. Compared to last year's bonanza of awesome movies, 2008 kind of sucked, but I'm finally seeing enough movies to put together my yearly top 10 list that will come out on Oscar Sunday.