06 Apr 2009

At the Movies

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This is somewhat awkward, because my philosophy with movie reviews is that you just need to find a person with similar tastes, and then s/he tells you, “Yeah that movie was awesome” or “Not sure you’ll like it, but you might, so give it a try if you’re bored.” If I decide I’m going to watch a movie (maybe it has an actor I like or something), then I don’t even read the Netflix description (which half the time is wrong anyway), because I want to go in with as few preconceptions as possible.

In that light, below are absurdly sparse discussions of a few movies I’ve seen recently. Over time, regular readers will learn whether they share my taste. Or, it would still be informative if you discover that you hate my taste in movies, because then you can just do the opposite of what I recommend.

* High Noon, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly (and Lloyd Bridges in a minor but well-played role). Simply awesome. I saw it three days ago and I am still reflecting on it. An old-timer with whom I’m collaborating recommended it to me, and boy was he right. It’s a Western, and all I’ll say is, it does a great job of showing just an awful “social outcome” where each individual’s behavior is completely understandable, and arguably correct.

* All About Eve, starring Bette Davis and Anne Baxter (and I think the first film appearance of Marilyn Monroe). Another classic that is underappreciated. All I will say is, I didn’t realize “they knew how to do that” in movies back then. I say “underappreciated” just because I had never heard of it until my wife rented it a few years ago, because she likes Bette Davis. But it actually was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, according to my trusty research assistant.

* Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, and John Malkovich. True story, after finishing this I couldn’t categorize it, and I thought, “The closest thing I can think of is The Big Lebowski.” It was only later that I realized the Coen brothers did both. (I told you, I don’t read movie descriptions. I go in as a blank slate, baby.) One thing to look for in this one, is that I think the depiction of the important CIA guy is absolutely perfect. Not malicious, just a complete absence of human sympathy. OK I can’t help myself: If you do watch it, afterwards consider that Malkovich’s character was in some respects the most nutjobby, but at the same time he was about the only honest person in the movie. In terms of what happened to him, he would understandably be really upset. Just go back through the events of the movie from his point of view, and you can see why he was so furious.

* Watchmen. That’s right, not only did I see (and now recommend) this movie, I went and saw it a second time in the Imax. That’s how I roll. Say what you will about this film, it features the biggest blue penis you will ever see (I hope).

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