Thursday Morning Music & Movie Combo!

This week, I’ve seen two movies in their opening runs (well, at least in this backwater), which is about as rare as a full lunar eclipse on winter solstice. The first was True Grit, the Coen Brothers’ darker remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic. I can add nothing to Roy Edroso’s review here, which is spot on [SPOILERS AT LINK!].

Okay, I can add one thing: a link to Doughy Pantload’s thoughts on the same movie. It illustrates the vast chasm between the two reviewers’ states of evolution as effectively as the ape and space scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. (SPOILER: Pantload is the ape!)

So, onto the second film: The King’s Speech. Despite being an American and thoroughly devoted to the principles of egalitarianism, I’m sheepishly fascinated by the British royals. Well, up to the present Queen, anyway—the younger ones are so thoroughly celebritized that I don’t find them very interesting.

The modern leap into celebrity is at the core of the film, when King George VI, who was afflicted by a severe stammer, must overcome it as best he can to present himself well in the celebrity vehicle of the day: live radio.

It’s wonderfully acted: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter—what’s not to like? Also, it closes with what is, in my opinion, the most sublime piece of music ever produced by a human being: the first three and a half minutes or so of the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony:

I highly recommend both movies, which are the best I’ve seen all year. (And possibly the only films I’ve seen all year. I can’t remember. New Year’s resolution: See more movies in 2011!)

What are your picks for the best movies of 2010?

Posted by Betty Cracker on 12/30/10 at 10:01 AM • Permalink

Categories: MoviesMovie ReviewsMusicPoliticsOur Stupid MediaYouTubidity

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I saw so few, but two that I liked are “Winter’s Bone” (which is a must-see) and “The Pat Tillman Story,” which, while not exactly shocking, is enraging. I may try to get out to “Black Swan” today because all the Kool Kidz are seeing it.

Betty, you are, as always, a woman after my own heart.  I’ve gone from a youth as a film student, then buyer for a chain of video stores, and seeing virtually every new film, foreign and domestic, to my present sorry state.  Netflix rental discs collect dust on the entertainment center, and even the construction of a 14-screen all-digital multiplex five minutes from home couldn’t get us out of the house for almost two years.

Until last weekend.  We went to see Black Swan.

The acting is fierce and fearless, but in service of such a load of malarkey about the agony of creating art, and when every single scene is designed to leave you unsure whether what your seeing is actually happening or a hallucination, it actually distances you from caring about the character. 

When you see gruesome closeups of extreme body mutilations that are supposed to make you cringe over and over and over and over, you just shut off the part of your brain that responds to visual stimuli.

This is the first of this director’s films I’ve actually seen, but I know I was convinced by reviews that they were not for me because he seems to be the kind who mistakes showing you graphically disturbing images for saying something profound.

This, too?  That Beethoven theme is used during the climax of the indescribably ridiculous Nicholas Cage movie Knowing, seen by me the other night.  The music comes and goes, sandwiched between more banal, contempo slabs of music, leaving you wondering—as does the whole silly movie—‘Huh?’

In the big box office category Social Network is pretty illuminating about life in the post dot com bust world. Even from a psychological standpoint it’s pretty interesting.

For the Netflixers out there the Banksy Documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop is fascinating.

@Allan—“Pi” and “Requiem for a Dream” were much better, though the latter is one of the most depressing, disturbing movies I have seen.  I saw “Black Swan” a few days ago, and wasn’t impressed.

This is the first of this director’s films I’ve actually seen, but I know I was convinced by reviews that they were not for me because he seems to be the kind who mistakes showing you graphically disturbing images for saying something profound.

Don’t rush to judgment Allan…I can’t speak for Black Swan as yet, but Darren Aronofsky has a pretty decent filmography—Pi and Requiem for a Dream as Sean mentioned, plus The Fountain and The Wrestler.

@ Allan: I suspect I’ll have some of the same issues with the Aronofsky film, based on informal reviews from other friends.

@ Alt: The Banksy doc is next in line for my Netflix queue.

And did I mention “Winter’s Bone” is awesome? Because it really, truly is.

the younger ones are so thoroughly celebritized that I don’t find them very interesting

Not interesting? Not even Will’s decision to forego all personal staff after he and Kate get hitched?

That boy’s mama woulda been so proud.

Okay, phooey on all you high-minded peoples, what with your smartness and your taste and whatnot.  I shall speak as a geek, and 2010 was a hell of a year for me.

Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim, and Tron were all freaking awesome.

I got Inception for Christmas.  I haven’t watched it yet, but I’m certain it’ll rate.

Stick that in your Meerschaum Calabash pipe and smoke it.

Really looking forward to King’s Speech and True Grit; saw Winter’s Bone and thought it amazing - how many mainstream American films actually portray real, rural people in unromantic terms without gratuitous violin music? Also the movie is completely driven by female characters - good and bad - and fantastic, realistic, not cutesy, acting by children. Arthousey choice: I am Love (can’t remember the Italian title), because of the exquisite Tilda Swinton. Best movie on the transatlantic flight: Toy Story 3 (sorry, Inception’s too complicated to look at on a tiny screen that keeps jumping back and forth because the guy in the economy seat in front is 6 foot 3 and in agony). Anyone seen Mao’s Last Dancer? My mom liked it, but I need more recommendation than that - she also loved Marley and Me…

I really enjoyed “127 Hours”, about the guy who got trapped in a canyon in Utah and had to saw off his arm in order to save himself.  True story, incredibly well acted; wonderful direction.  I might have a twisted bit of insight since a good friend knew this guy years previously when they were raft guides at the same company.  Same director as Slumdog Millionaire.

”...the most sublime piece of music ever produced by a human being”

Most sublime?  Nope. I’m going to argue with you.  I’m picking either “Gabriel’s Oboe” or “Malena (Main theme)”, both written by Ennio Morricone and played by Yo-Yo Ma.

You can go to Amazon’s website and hear snips of both; then, like me, you will buy the album!  After, sit in a quite room with some wine, listen, and be transported.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003PTP4S6/ref=pd_l po_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1 &pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B0002YCVXI&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIK X0DER&pf_rd_r=147ZCQZJ2KP3F6V5DJZ5

Also a YouTube clip, but without Yo-Yo Ma:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC58MjYDp64

Comment by A.J. on 01/02/11 at 09:35 AM
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