It's generally been a lousy year for movies, but in the last couple weeks Sue and I have seen several that we really enjoyed. I'm listing them here in order of preference (best first), but all three were good. Read about them; go see them, if you can.
If you pay any attention to contemporary movies, you probably know that the new film Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig, was released this week to rave reviews (see, for example, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal). Sue and I went to see it last night. We laughed through the whole thing, as did the other members of the audience in the packed theater. It's the funniest film we've seen in a long, long time. ★★★★★
Oh, my. Go see "Rabbit Hole," the new film starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, and Diane Wiest. The acting by all three is terrific, especially Kidman. The story is not light. It follows a young couple dealing with the tragic death of their son. But everything about the film is perfect -- acting, dialogue, direction, screenplay, and cinematography. It's a sublime cinematic treat.
The best movie of the year, in my opinion, is "The King's Speech," starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter. Firth and Rush are so good that they should be shoo-ins for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. Be sure to see this fabulous film.
Competition to Firth for Best Actor would come from Jeff Bridges, who is wonderful as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit."
I haven't read Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir, Eat Pray Love. Memoirs are not my favorite literary form. But Sue and I enjoy films of all sorts. So, when the movie version of Gilbert's book was released yesterday to generally enthusiastic reviews (see the New York Times review here, the Boston Globe review here, and the Wall Street Journal's round-up of reviews here), we headed over to Harvard Square to see it.
Yes, it's part chick-flick, part romantic comedy. And yes, 80 percent of the audience was female. But it was enjoyable. Julia Roberts is very good in this film, and we don't see much of her these days; Richard Jenkins is also good, as are many of the actors in smaller roles. But to me, the real star of the film is the scenery, especially in Italy and Bali -- both places lush and resplendent, lovingly presented by cinematographer Robert Richardson.
New movies show up at cinemas today. Great reviews in all the newspapers today for "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" and "Eat Pray Love" (in which actor Richard Jenkins apparently steals the film from Julia Roberts).
But if you haven't seen "Get Low," which opened last week (I think), go see that first. Starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek, "Get Low" is the story of a Tennessee hermit (Duvall) in the 1930s who decides to throw his own funeral party while he's still alive, enlisting the local funeral-parlor owner (Murray) in his plan. It turns out that the hermit has a secret he's harbored for forty years, which explains his isolation. This film reaffirms Robert Duvall's place in the pantheon of Hollywood greats. It's as splendid an acting job as you will see anywhere, and it will be a crime if he does not receive a best-actor nomination for this role. See for yourself.
We saw two films this weekend that we thought were great. Excellence is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and these movies may not be to your liking. But we enjoyed each of them enormously, even though they were very different from one another.
The Kids Are All Rightfeatures Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple with two teenaged children. The kids are intent on finding out who their father is -- that is, who was the donor of the sperm each of their mothers used in conceiving. Mark Ruffalo turns out to be that guy. He's a bohemian restaurateur, who unleashes a tornado of emotions in the family of four who find him. The feelings and emotions in this movie are about as real and raw as you will find anywhere. Very moving.
Saltis at the opposite end of the spectrum -- a shoot-'em-up, non-stop action thriller, featuring Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent who is identified (correctly? wrongly?) as a Russian mole, long-ago planted in the U.S. with the ultimate goal of sparking a world war by killing both the Russian president and the U.S. president. So: is she or isn't she? We don't know, until the end (which is just the beginning, I suspect, of countless sequels). Evelyn Salt is one hell of an action figure -- a lean, mean, fighting machine. Just as film makers of old pitted Godzilla against King Kong, we should hope somebody will soon pit Evelyn Salt against Lisbeth Salander of the "Girl Who . . ." series. Mmmmmmmm.
Don't miss either of these movies. Each film offers its own wondrous pleasures.
Ah, summer at the cinema: cool air and entertainment. What better? This weekend, Sue and I saw two really fine films. On Saturday night, we went to see the fabulous Tilda Swinton (photo at left) in "I am Love" (original title: lo sono l'amore), an Italian film by Luca Guadagnino. Then, late yesterday afternoon, we went to see "The Secret in Their Eyes" (original title: El secreto de sus ojos), the Argentinian film by Juan José Campanella that won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. Each of these films was marvelous -- visually sumptuous and deeply gratifying. Try not to miss either of these, especially "Secret," which we were late in seeing but which is still in a few theaters here and there, and which will linger in your mind.