Sunday, February 28, 2010

Best Picture Showcase--Part One

The AMC theater chain is doing this all over the country. Five of the Best Picture nominees yesterday, five next weekend. We'd never seen any of them. It was great--we want to do it every year, and go to more film festivals in general from now on.

Yesterday, we saw "Avatar", "Up in the Air", "Precious", "The Blind Side", and "Inglourious Basterds". My thoughts--the abridged version:

AVATAR: Visually, very interesting to look at. Plot sucked, and the movie was too long. The denouement fight sequence was like a root canal without nitrous and seemed to last forever. Not "Best Picture" material, IMO. Borrowed liberally from other movies and ideas, and technology shouldn't win Best Picture on its own. Special Effects, Visual Effects, cinematography, editing, sound, but not Best Picture.

Up in the Air: Liked this one a lot. Snappy dialogue. Ran out of gas a little in the last half or third, but I appreciated that it wasn't pat, it kept moving, and that it portrayed human frailty very effectively, though it didn't seem like much of a stretch for its fine actors. Second runner-up for my favorite of the day.

Precious: Absolutely amazing. Courageous. Has my vote for Best Picture so far (and Mr. Salted's!). It's far from comfortable, but these things happen to all kinds of people every day and these stories need to be told--and seen--for exactly those reasons, BECAUSE THEY MATTER. The acting was fabulous. I read the book when it came out in the '90s and wondered if a movie could do it justice. For once, it has. Mr. Salted summed it up perfectly: "A sucker-punch in the complacency." (It made me so proud that he is my husband.)

The Blind Side: good entertainment, way better than average, but still an "uplifting" (and from what I've read, rather sanitized-bordering-on-Hallmark-card) adaptation of a true story. I read an editorial that pointed out part of the value of "Precious" is that the movie presents Precious is worth saving simply because she is a human being, where "The Blind Side" presents Michael as worth saving because he is an exceptional athlete. While this does an injustice to the motives of the family portrayed in the "The Blind Side"--whose motives I believe were positive--the writer's point is well taken. "Precious" is a far better film. "The Blind Side" is definitely worth seeing, and Sandra Bullock (and everyone else) was great, but I don't think it was Best Actress--or Best Picture--material, as heartwarming as it was and as much as I loved all the characters.

Inglourious Basterds: we gave it 45 minutes and walked out. More masturbatory torture porn from Tarantino.

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