Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday movie triple feature

A friend and I decided to catch up on movies, which is a difficult task now that there is no movie theater in downtown New Orleans. It is also difficult given the extra-long running time of most holiday films. So our triple feature was spread out over 24 hours. We began Sunday night with "It's Complicated" at the Prytania uptown. I wasn't expecting much--Nancy Myers seems to be the kind of writer-director who goes for big concepts rather than finding any real nuance or character. But the Prytania is a great, single screen theater with digital projection, so I'd go see almost anything there. The surprise was...I actually liked the movie. It made me laugh, and strangest of all, Alec Baldwin was terrific (although playing a creep). I went home and dreamt that Meryl Streep had to sign off on my dissertation.

Day 2 begain in the burbs at 3:05 for "Up in the Air." We were at the Elmwood AMC, and the place was packed with people trying to get into the IMAX screening of "Avatar," which made me cross that film from my list. I had high hopes for "Up in the Air" but it left me kind of flat. George Clooney was great. Vera Farmiga was even better. And there are some funny scenes. But the premise seemed foggy and unconvincing. There were scenes and plot twists that would only make sense to someone trying to self-consciously construct a meaningful narrative. I didn't buy it. And worse, what was there to buy? The lesson seemed to be: "Don't ever consider becoming sincere and entering the real world; anyone who seems real to you is actually faking it." I thought I was a cynic, but I guess I like if I'm going for cynicism I'll take in a less frothy form than "Up in the Air."

Technical problems (Elmwood is always having technical problems) delayed the start of "Up in the Air" by fifteen minutes, so we had to run out on the credits and take our seats at "The Young Victoria" which had already begun. This was a movie I really didn't expect much from, although it had some great reviews. And the first scenes were stiff and costume-y. UGH, why had I thought I wanted to see this? But then, scene by scene, it came to life. I've never been a big fan of Emily Blunt, but she's terrific. And the supporting cast has actors I either haven't seen in a while (Miranda Richardson) or never at all (Rupert Friend). By the end I found myself completely identifying with Queen Victoria--and that's pretty strange, but in a good way.

So now I'm looking this over seeing that I've allowed myself to break all of my own rules for criticism, including the annoying overuse of the first person. Maybe I'll come back later and correct that. Maybe while I'm at it I'll italicize the titles rather than putting them, incorrectly, in quotes. On the other hand, maybe not.

1 comment:

NYCKitten said...

Saw 2 of your 3 as well. I loved It's Complicated - Alec Baldwin was fantastic. I thought they didn't make much use of Steve Martin tho.

Up in the Air was just too depressing. My theory on the great reviews? People are so used to the asexual political parts George Clooney plays that because he actually shows some emotion and interacts with a woman his character cares for, he gets acclaim. The movie itself...same sentiments re: cynicism.

Was meant to see Young Victoria but caught Crazy Heart instead. Run and see it! The music, Jeff Bridges, the story, surprise place this movie goes - breath taking.

And now back to mulling over tonight's euthanasia list in NYC... UGH!