About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Oscars Pre-game Show --My Year at the Movies

Well, since it's a few hours before have to get ready for the Red Carpet, thought I'd throw out my two cent's worth on this year's films. It's been an odd year. Usually there are a couple that just captivate for one reason or another like last year's The Young Victoria or best song "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart. Not so for this year. I really don't care who wins in any category tonight, although I like--in some cases love--many of this year's films. Here you can see the ones that I cared enough to see on the big screen. The rest were fine to catch on Netflix.

So, without further ado, here's my take on the 2010-11 films:


By far the favorites in this category were the three based on Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy that's been such runaway best sellers this past year. His books and the films got me interested in other Scandinavian authors, films, and travel(in August this year).

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Stars: Michael Nyqvist as financial journalist Michael Blomkvist who is hired by a prominent Swedish businessman to solve the 40 year old case of his missing niece. Noomi Rapace plays Lisbeth Salander, the pierced and tattooed punk computer prodigy who helps Blomkvist investigate. They uncover complex family secrets, murder and financial intrigue--and, in the process, develop an unlikely friendship despite Lisbeth's unwillingness to share her troubled past and trust Blomkvist.

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The story continues with Michael Nyqvist still playing the journalist Michael Blomkvist and Noomi Rapace the fierce computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. BlomKvist decides to publish an expose on sex trafficking in Sweden that involves the highest government officials in wrong doing which results in two journalists' murders. Meanwhile, Lisbeth's troubled past draws her into this story and she is accused of the murders to shut her up. She goes into hiding to solve the crime and Michael uses his journalistic talents to clear her name.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

In the final film of the series, Lisbeth Salander is under house arrest in a hospital suffering from a bullet wound to the head. When she recovers, she will be tried for three murders. With the help of her friend Michael Blomvkist she will fight for her innocence, identify and bring to justice those in authority who failed to protect the young and vulnerable. Will she be able to get justice for herself and others who have been victimized by government officials for their own evil purposes.

The American

Stars George Clooney as an assassin who's ready to get out of the business. In summary, it's George Clooney in an Italian village interacting with the locals and falling in love with a local beauty. 'Nuf sed!

The Tourist

Stars Angelina Jolie as a crime fighting agent with a designer wardrobe who entangles Johnny Depp, an American tourist/math teacher, in the intrigue. This one was painful to watch. Angelina was little more than a clothes rack. Only saving graces for this film were Venice film location and occasional appearances of the lovely Rufus Sewell. Don't pay full price for this one!

Scenes from a Marriage --these next four films depict couples at various stages in their relationships.

Blue Valentine

Stars Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as a couple trapped in a marriage that no longer satisfies either of them. Cindy(Michelle Williams) is the preoccupied mother who struggles with her day to day life, escaping in work and sexual flirtations. Dean (Ryan Gosling) is the under-employed, but caring, husband who can't figure out how to prevent the impending breakup. He tries to be a better father and partner, but his efforts fail. He is just not enough for Cindy any more. This film is a heart breaker because Cindy no longer wants what Dean can offer.

Rabbit Hole

Nicole Kidman
and Aaron Eckhart play a couple mourning the death of a child in a freak accident. Kidman copes by trying to perfectly order her daily life whether it's planting neat rows of flowers or baking the perfect pie or getting rid of all mementos of their son. Eckhart needs to talk about their loss, watch videos of their son. and remember him. Kidman feels like she is on the edge of that "rabbit hole" and may plunge any time. Eckhart just wants to grieve with his wife and find a way back. It's not hard to feel the pain in this film.

Another Year

Stars the wonderful character actors Jim Broadbent (Tom) as a genial geologist who's happily married to Ruth Sheen (Gerri) a kindly therapist for many years. They garden, cook together and try to support their long time friends Mary (Lesley Manville) and Ken Tom's childhood friend. This quiet movie is my favorite of the year. If you're going to be married for a long time, this relationship is what you're looking for. And Lesley Manville deserves all the awards she can get for her work as the flighty, self-absorbed, alcoholic friend who goes too far for even the tolerant Gerri.

Eat Pray Love

Even Julia Roberts; scenes of Italy with bowls of pasta, India and Bali; and the lovely Javier Bardem as the possible love interest couldn't save this film. Loved Elizabeth Gilbert's book about her journey around the world to learn to live with divorce and find a new center for her life. The film was just boring, like having the book read to me on screen. Didn't live up to the hype.

"True grit" films--I've lumped these three films together because each portrays a central character who overcomes great obstacles with the help of family, friends, and unlikely allies.

Winter's Bone

Everyone in Louisville is justifiably proud of the performance Jennifer Lawrence turns in for this film. She's a local girl who has delivered an award winning role in this bleak rural crime drama. She shines as the young girl struggling to take care of her young brother and sister and depressed mother, keeping them fed, sheltered, and in school. At the same time she takes on the meth lab owners and dealers in the Missouri foothills to locate her father who is mixed up with this crowd. She endures mental and emotional strain and physical violence at the hands of family members, neighbors, and law enforcement. Yet she keeps on. Jennifer won't win Best Actress tonight, but at barely 20 year's old it's great that she's recognized.

True Grit

This re-make of the old John Wayne western was just plain fun to watch. Young Mattie Ross (played by the surprisingly young actress Hailee Steinfield) systematically enlists the reluctant help of U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn (played by Jeff Bridges) to track down the man who killed her father. She stubbornly insists on riding out with Rooster and the dandified Texas ranger (played by Matt Damon). they form an unlikely team to track down the killer. Mattie was looking for "true grit" but she had plenty to spare on her own and a sharp tongue to explain her expectations to any one she did business with.

The King's Speech

There's very little left to be said about this film. Everyone knows the story of the would-be king who had to conquer the staggering handicap of stuttering so that he could lead England in a time of great danger and war. Colin Firth delivers an Oscar worth performance as King George VI. Geoffrey Rush played the impudent but oh so confident speech therapist Lionel Logue. With the help of his queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and Logue, Bertie was able to step before the mic and deliver the words of courage to the British people on the brink of war. (Blast from the past: how many noticed that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett were back together again? This time Jennifer Ehle played Lionel Logue's tolerant wife.)

Psychological Drama

Black Swan

This is a film of contrasts. Natalie Portman plays a rising New York ballerina and repressed young woman under the control of her mother, a former ballerina as well. Nina (Portman) is replacing the lead in Swan Lake but she must prove that she can dance both the pure White Swan as well as the dark and destructive Black Swan. The film follows Nina's downward physical and psychological spiral as she tries to prove she can dance the darker role. The film is shocking for its physical and mental violence. Natalie Portman deserves the accolades she is winning for this role but this was not an enjoyable experience for this viewer who can take a lot of on screen violence.

Now I doubt that anyone gets through all this re-cap, but I just wanted to get it down. And now it's time for the Red Carpet. Let the show begin!


Sayre said...

I got through it! Mostly because I haven't seen ANY of these (except Eat, Love, Pray - which I looked on as a nice travelogue but not much story). I won't be watching the oscars either, as I don't get network TV, but I'll be seeing recaps tomorrow, I'm sure.

Jan n Jer said...

Wow Faye...like I said before..you are the best critic. Jer n I have only seen 3 of the movies up for an award...True Grit...The kings speech and Social Network. We enjoyed all of them. It should be interesting who walks away with Oscar!!

The Church Lady said...

Faye, I appreciate your reviews on each and every one! I have not seen any of these films yet. I do have Eat, Pray, Love at home to watch from Netflix, but I can't bring myself to watch it. My kids won't watch it and neither will FW, so I'm left to watch on my own and I've had it for over a month now! After reading your review, I just might return this one!

Swampwitch said...

I loved the Larrson trilogy !
The King's Speech was incredible and I'll see it again and again. So glad it won as many awards as it did.
Black Swan scared the bejeebus out of me. Glad I saw it, and think Portman did a great job, but just didn't like the story line.
Eat Pray Love was a waste of my time. I started reading it. Couldn't finish, so just saw the movie. That's 2 hours I'll never get back. Can't believe it received so much press. What a disappointment for me.
Loved True Grit but missed John Wayne.
You are so good with your critiques, just wanted to clue you in on the American Idol party at my place. Even if you don't watch it, I'm sure to can muster up some 'comments' for the commentees.

I have to sign in with my old Google account.

Debs Carr said...

Wow, thanks very much for telling us all about these. The only one I've seen is Eat Pray Love, which was okay for a rainy sunday.

I can't wait to see The King's Speech and a few of the others. I particularly like the look of Another Year and look forward to that one too.

Georgia Girls said...

Well, shoot, I need to get out more. I've only seen Eat, Pray, Love which was a disappointment after reading the book.
I wanted to see True Grit because I remember loving the original, but I heard the ending was so-so.
My library book club is reading the Tatoo girl series this year. I always prefer to read the book first.
Another blogger reviewed the Black Swan and said it was the best movie she has seen and never wants to see again. :)
(P.S. for the Fun Monday, I had to add a second link to Mr. Linky--messed it up again. Will get it right for next month tho :)

Pamela said...

forgive me for not having the energy to go see any of these films. Your reviews were enough for me to make a future decision (when I decide to)

Robert said...

Excellent job of reviewing. You should be paid for this,since you're better than half the people who are. I'm not going to throw stones here...just acknowledging how you can concisely get your point across without ramming your opinions down people's throats. It's an art, and you've got it.