So since we have an extra Wednesday this month, I thought it would be fun to discuss a couple of Academy Award movie contenders I checked out at a local theatre last night. Yesterday, I turned in my October release book and decided to celebrate with a few friends. Thanks to a writing friend (my walking bud Phylis Caskey) I’ve met an eclectic mix of ladies who get together for wine every Tuesday afternoon. One’s an actress, one is a screenwriter and script editor, a few are doctor’s wives, one is from Russia, one an attorney, etc. The ages vary from 40 yrs to, well, we won’t mention age, but I love being able to visit with incredibly talented and smart women when I can tear myself away from laundry and varoius sport practices with the kids. So last night we venture out (in the really bad weather) to have a couple of glasses of wine and catch two Oscar nominated films. These reviews are my opinion and I have absolutely no credentials for reviewing other than I bought a ticket and have an opinion, darn it.
The first one was Beasts of the Southern Wild, nominated for best picture and the young actress for Best Actress. Okay, Beasts of the Southern Wild was just crazy. Short synopsis: During and After Hurricane Katrina, a young girl and her ailing father living in the community of Bathtub (?) fight to preserve their way of life, facing Mother Nature and their own repressed emotions along the way. I didn’t care for this movie at at all. For one thing the camera jerked constantly in order to bring a sense of movement and realness, but I ended up feeling horribly seasick. And then the story? Shaking my head at the whole thing. It was indulgent, and glorified poverty and rebellious people protecting their squalid life in a closed off area of coastal Louisiana as if these people had some magic secret to life, as if it was perfectly fine for a small child to live alone in order to teach her survival, to bring forth her inner beast. The acting was very solid (the young Louisiana actress was remarkable) and there was some stunnnig imagery, but it was oddly done, purposefully obscure. I hate movies like that. It’s as if the writers/director tried to make it so highbrow and “arthouse” that the convaluted result was drinking a sauzrac when you really just want a rum and coke. Pretentiousness for pretentiousness sake irritates me, and I feel the buzz exists because there is a different feel to the movie, a sort of watching a train wreck while licking acid paper feel. And as a Louisianian, I realize these odd communities do exist, but there was a mystical element given to these people who defiantly blew up levees and refused medical care…and I don’t even want to think about the way they rolled around in crab shells in a sort of joie de verve that makes little sense to me. Honestly, after it finished I needed Pepto and a bath. I’d give it a C- at best.
The second movie was saw was Silver Linings Playbook. Okay, I’ll just go ahead and say that I’m naturally biased toward this one because it’s a romance. I’m a romance writer. I like romance. So know up front this is tainted by my love for heavy meaningful glances and slight careses that make me sigh. This movie stars the oh so yummy Bradley Cooper and visually pleasing Katniss Everdeen, oops, I meant Jennifer Lawrence. Though Bradly Cooper didn’t take his shirt off, I still loved the movie. Simple with clean lines, this little black dress of a movie washed the taste of Beasts of the Southern Wild from my mouth. Here was my rum and coke. You don’t have to do a lot when you have a good script, piercing emotion, a connection with the audience and pristine acting. Jennifer Lawrence was gritty and real in her portrayal of a woman grieving…and dealing with depression. Bradley Cooper was convincing as a man struggling to deal with being Bi-Polar while trying to win his wife back. The supporting cast, including Robert Dinaro had me laughing, relating and rooting for puzzle pieces to fall into place. It’s a romance, but even more so, it’s a celebration of overcoming failure and holding fast to what can make our days tolerable….no, happy. Great date movie…or girlfriend movie. Guys with a sensitve side will enjoy this look into the life of characters dealing with mental illness and heartbreak. If your man thinks Rambo is the best movie ever, leave him at home. I give this one an A-
The Academy Awards will be televised live on Sunday, February 24th on ABC. Will you be watching? What’s your favorite part of Oscar night?