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Catching up on movies...

Sometimes I'm motivated to post and other times... bleargh.

Anyway - short comments (sometimes shorter than the movies deserve) on Capturing the Friedmans, Supersize Me, The Human Stain, Ginger Snaps, Intolerable Cruelty, The Producers, Cold Mountain and Nicholas Nickleby.

Capturing the Friedmans

This documentary really deserves an extended discussion. But it's now been over a week since I've seen it and a lot of the details have blurred. Suffice to say, it's fascinating on a number of levels.

The "surface" story about the dysfunctional (damn... promised myself I wouldn't use the word dysfunctional in my review) family with the father, and possibly the son, guilty of pedophelia is engrossing enough. For instance, there's considerable doubt about the son, but father was definitely a pedophile... but not necessarily with the children he was accused and convicted of.

But the deeper meditation on how people perceive, interpret and remember events in totally different, often contradictory ways, is even more interesting.

Definitely one I'll have to re-watch and go through the extras.

Supersize me

If anything is going to motivate me to lay off the junk food, this documentary is it. But seeing I'm typing this after devouring 3/4 of a family sized pizza... :-(

The Human Stain

I read in a number of reviews that there was a big twist in the movie that made the casting of Anthony Hopkins unbelievable.

I spotted the twist in the movie's opening minutes, but for a while thought it was going to be something else (ie that Nicole Kidman was Hopkins' daughter). But when the twist came, I didn't share the reviewers' opinions. In other words: I had no problem with Hopkins playing a Jew.

Watching this movie or Cold Mountain made me realise how versatile Nicole Kidman is. She picks her movies for their variety I'm sure. From the OTT stylings of Moulin Rouge to the repressed British despair in The Hours, to the tough-talking blue collar worker in The Human Stain to the southern preacher's daughter in Cold Mountain to comic turns like The Stepford Wives (which I haven't seen) or Too Die For (which I have - her best early performance); from fairly commercial fare like The Others to avant garde indies like Dogsville (another one I haven't seen). She's not always brilliant, but often interesting. One of these days I'll have to seek out BMX Bandits!

Intolerable Cruelty

The Cohen Brothers are hit and miss film makers. The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou are great. But generally their darker works - The Big Lebowski, Barton Finch for instance - I just can't relate to. (Or was the problem with Lebowski that it was dark? I can't remember the movie all that well, except that I did not relate to any of the characters. At all.)

Intolerable Cruelty is one of their lighter movies (so mainstream that they weren't sure it was for them according to one of the DVD extras) and while I don't think it was a great movie (some of the plot twists, eg the one involving Billy Bob Thornton, are transparent) it did make me laugh out loud several times. And seeing it was a comedy, I guess that makes it a successful one.

The Producers

One of the acknowledged great comedies. But it just didn't click for me. Sure there were some amusing bits - the Busby Berkely swastika shot for instance - but Wilder's and Mostel's way, way, waaaaay over the top acting just wasn't effective for the screen. Ironically enough, "theatrical" is an apt description of their styles and as such I would expect the story to work better on stage. I guess I'll find out when I eventually get to see the musical.

Cold Mountain

I thought this movie was very haphazard till I realised it was actually a road movie. Jude Law wanders all over the place and meets interesting folk. Nicole Kidmans stays back on the farm and interesting folk wander to meet her. Jude Law is left for dead so often in the movie that you just know he's going to buy it at the end... especially when the story doesn't finish when they're reunited (the recurring bad guy is conspicuously not disposed off before then). Moderately entertaining if predictable... but then I spotted the "twist" in The English Patient in the first frame too.

Ginger Snaps

Heard good things about this at Wordforge and it was indeed worth watching. Dark, angsty, intense, very black humoured.

Nicholas Nickleby

In contrast to The Producers, here is a cast giving very theatrical performances but which worked for me. Everyone in the high powered ensemble is stylised, but finely so... with the exception of the guy playing the main character, who just doesn't have the acting chops of his supporting players. But then, Nicholas is such a prissy dogooder that it must take an actor of rare skill to give him dimension. Props especially to Juliet Stevenson, Jim Broadbent and Christopher Plummer. It's taken me a while to cotton on to how great an actor Plummer is. (I got an inkling in Star Trek VI.) Sound of Music has a lot to answer for!

Seeing a 100 minute film knowing that the RSC (and STC) did an 11 hour version from the book made me really regret having missed the theatrical epic.

Oh, and I haven't seen such overt male-to-male longing in a movie since Lord of the Rings! Surely Smike (aka Tobias Ragg) only fell for Kate because it was the only socially acceptable way he could express his feelings for Nicholas!

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