Friday, August 20, 2010

Some Films at Summer's End . . .

How serene are these sunrises? They're all from the past week of hot sunny days. Now, it appears, we may be seeing cloudier skies for the foreseeable weather future. Given the temperatures I observed in our non-air-conditioned classrooms this past week, that's probably a good thing. September's a tough enough shock to the student body, without having to sit in a crowded, overheated classroom, and enough shock to the professorial body without having to lecture above the sound of an inefficient fan to faces made soporific by the heat!
I'm working on a post in which I expose my, erm, thoughts -- you'll see!. . . It will be revelatory and humourous with a soupçon of culture and education thrown in for good measure -- how's that for hype?
Meanwhile, I'm recommending some films you might enjoy. There would be more, but my memory's shot, and my Moleskin notebooks are so unfortunately dependent on someone remembering to write things down!
Memorable enough, though, are these three:
The Kids Are All Right. Mia Wasikowska is truly a young actor to watch! I loved her in In Treatment; she was great in Alice; and she's delightful again in Kids. And Julianne Moore and Annette Bening? Women of a certain age who choose their roles thoughtfully, who show their age naturally and beautifully, whose intelligence and commitment underline everything they do. And Mark Ruffalo? Icing on the cake! Pater asked me if women found him (Ruffalo) attractive. Um, yes. This one, anyway. . .
As for the premise, the plot, the character development, all convincing enough -- and if the situation seems specific to a very particular configuration of family -- two lesbian mothers, their teenage children discovering the identity of their sperm-donor father -- the family dynamics, the generational relationship, is familiar and relevant to all. Plus there are many, many laughs with the drama, and laughter is good, right?
Chloë, also featuring Julianne Moore, is another family drama, but of the thriller variety, offering few, if any laughs, but considerable tension. It also features Liam Neeson, whom I would have to tell Pater that women find attractive. It also features the gorgeous Amanda Seyfried (you know her from Big Love, perhaps) who I can well imagine men find attractive -- this role is easy to imagine Scarlet Johansson in, but Seyfried brings something fresher to the film, more vulnerability to her character's charm and danger. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that this is the first Atom Egoyan film I've seen, despite having had him on the list forever -- after all, he's a bit of a national treasure. I will now step up efforts to view the rest of his work: this takes a plot which could veer easily into cliché, but in Egoyan's hands and through these very talented, well-cast actors, it stays instead in uncomfortably thoughtful territory. I found it close to unbearable at a few spots, the same kind of tension I've felt in some of Woody Allen's work (although Allen, for me, allows the tension to last long past the point where it can be effective -- with such a long-delayed release, I slip into boredom).
And if you like your humour mixed with a big dollop of poignant (or is it the other way round?), you should check out the animated film, Mary and Max, with voicework by Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The premise is a correspondence between an overweight, lonely child in Australia and the awkward, overweight lonely New York bachelor she chooses randomly as a penpal in an effort to deal with her unhappiness. You'll laugh, you'll cry . . . and along the way, you'll marvel at the medium -- the animation is brilliant, the social satire clever enough without getting in the way.
So there you are: some recommendations for some weekend film viewing. Meanwhile, here at the beach, since it will probably be too cool to swim today, we're watching the mailbox and hoping the Dexter Season 4 DVD I ordered arrives today. I've steeled myself to listen to that creepy, creepy opening music again . . .
Any film or TV recommendations? or are you still outside, enjoying the summer's last gifts?

8 comments:

  1. I have to second your recommendation for Kids Are Alright. Great story, great work by all of the actors, though I thought Annette Benning especially gave a stellar performance. And Mark Ruffalo, not hard on the eyes at all. Not at all. ;-)

    I haven't seen the other two, but will keep an eye out. I'm happy to see Julianne Moore getting so much great work.

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  2. Hello Mater, I've not been around for a while - enjoying a week in Paris then a week here, all without the offspring. Today was our last full childless day - it's the Hungarian National Day, but instead of going downtown (I wasn't feeling so well), we pottered around the house and watched 2 Paris movies: 2 Days in Paris and Before Sunset, coincidentally both with Julie Delphy. Paris was great - good weather, some good shopping (including a lovely Le Tanneur wallet via BHV for my 50th from hubby) and good food. School starts on Monday and I am looking forward to fall - just got a camel hair coat from the Max Mara outlet I told you about before, for $100!! Enjoy the last free days before the semester starts again! Patricia

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  3. Great timing - I just got free tickets to see The Kids Are All Right next weekend. Sounds like it will be fun. I love Atom Egoyan, especially his early movies. As for Mark Ruffalo and Liam Neeson ... :)

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  4. Pseu: I, too, thought that Annette Benning was outstanding in this -- that banked-up impatient frustration under the veneer of pleasant authority was so convincing. And I've been astonished with Julianne Moore's range over the last several years.
    Patricia: A week in Paris sans enfants How civilized! Those were both great movies -- have you seen Before Sunrise as well?
    Bravo on the MaxMara camel coat -- you are so ready for fall, and I cannot believe that price! Score!!
    Tiffany: I'll have to compare notes with you on the early Egoyan when I finally get round to them. And free tickets? Those will make The Kids Are All Right even better!

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  5. Hmm, The Kids are Alright and Inception are the two current movies I would like to see, although neither one is likely, and I don't think my spouse would understand or enjoy either one. I'll probably be waiting for Netflix on these.

    But your recommendations sound interesting and at least a couple of them lighthearted. It seems my movie watching has been of the more thought-provoking variety lately, having just seen Children of Men and Free Zone.

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  6. Hi again Mater - yes, but we only have it on VHS (back home in storage). Must look out for the version in DVD form for the complete set. I have to tell you about another purchase from Paris - Argon oil. I have heard about it a lot on my blogs (sometimes called Moroccan oil) and it is fab. You can use it on your skin, nails, hair - I used a tiny bit on my hair before blowdrying and it is so soft and shiny. My beauty tip of the day! :0) Patricia

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  7. Those films are way way beyond Emin so will wait for the DVD's unless I can persuade Kitty, who believes Step Up 3D is the best film EVER! what chance have I?
    I am tempted with these box sets in the vain hope that one day I will get the time to watch them, I have missed a few series like Dexter because they are on way past my bed time and worse are not available via any catch up iplayers.
    I am going to write a post on how much I hate August an aged tart who promises much but delivers nothing. But I agree that for me too September is absolutely the new New Year I love the clean slate and I always make a to do list at this time of year. That water looks soooo inviting stop taunting me!

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  8. Patricia: I've heard of Argan Oil, more in France than over here. Seems to have the same wide range of miraculous applications that used to be attributed to teatree oil. I'm going to have to check it out.
    Alison: Ah, you do make me laugh! An aging tart! Poor August!
    And you know you have a standing invitation to come visit and have a swim . . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we?

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