Saturday, December 26, 2009

YMD and Friends Film Bonanza part 9

Donna and I often have a different point of view with regards to movies, but that's only because I'm over a foot taller than her. She was nice enough to provide her own intro so I'm going to go eat breakfast. Yay!

Bearing in mind that my memory is shot from…well…a variety of things which we won’t get into here, not the least of which is the seemingly endless number of decades I have been on earth…consequently, this list is bound to be woefully incomplete.  So here are just some movies of the decade that have made a lasting impression on me, in no particular order:

- The Pianist dir. Roman Polanski (2002)
At first, I wasn’t going to see this one. Like most people, I thought I had a good working knowledge of the Holocaust (we are not counting those people who think it’s a myth. They’re not fully human anyway) and was hesitant to get the graphic images in my head. But, it is precisely those graphic images that provide the necessary emotional component so essential to true understanding of this issue. Interestingly enough, as disturbing as these images were, I found the movie much more bearable than say, Schindler’s List (another of my favorites, though not of the recent decade.) When I asked myself why, I had to conclude that it was the ever-present and beautiful music of Chopin that somehow ameliorated the horror presented in this film. While this is not a movie I want to see again, I’m glad I did see it and would highly recommend it to anyone. Way to go, Roman Polanski.

- In the Bedroom dir. Todd Field (2001)
Speaking of graphic. This movie has the most graphic and true portrayal of grief that has ever been on screen.  Not overly melodramatic, just ordinary, day-to-day, mind-deadening grief. Another painful one to watch, but a story worth the telling. Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek and Marissa Tomei all at their finest, which is going some…

- Frontline: Ghosts of Rwanda dir. Greg Barker (2004)
I saw this PBS documentary before I saw the slightly more fictionalized film, Hotel Rwanda. While they were both quite moving, seeing the actual characters and hearing them speak for themselves was powerful beyond belief. It rocked me right down to my socks. I felt ashamed that I had not paid more attention to this at the time, and tried, in some way, even if unsuccessfully, to force our government to more than…well…let’s face it…nothing. I mean we’re not talking about George Bush here, but Bill Clinton, who I happen to think was a pretty good president. (Yes, I remember what he did in the Oval Office. Not our business.) But I digress. This movie made me take my responsibility to know what is going on in the world more seriously.

- My Big Fat Greek Wedding dir. Joel Zwick (2002)
Ok, come on, I have to throw a funny one in here. We have to laugh sometimes. I could really relate to this one because the all-encompassing extended family so reminds me of my own. True, we had no lamb roasting on the front lawn, but the aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, and cousins, all of whom were deeply connected in everyday life…this rang true for me. Not to mention the total incomprehensibility of vegetarianism to some of these people. And, yes, my family really is this funny.  

- Volver dir. Pedro Almodóvar (2006)
Dammed if I can remember the particulars about this one, but I do recall that when I first saw it, I was dead convinced I had to own it. I’m watching the trailer now…yup. I need this to see this one again, and soon. Who doesn’t like Almodóvar anyway? They’re all good. Hmmm…maybe I should have put Talk To Her ahead of this one. I’m going to have to watch them both and let you know later.

- Unfaithful dir. Adrian Lyne (2002)
Memorable? Dear God yes. Don’t know what this is like for men, but every woman I know who has seen it has been deeply, and I mean deeply, impressed. Yes, I am talking about Olivier Martinez. OK, when it opens, I am thinking, “Who in their right mind could be unfaithful to the Richard Gere character?” Asked and answered. I’ll say no more. As to the quality of the movie…Diane Lane was incredible, and, I think all of the acting was very good. But that Olivier Martinez character…yikes.

- Children of Men dir. Alfonso Cuarón (2006)
Jarvis Cocker and so much more.

- Ghost World dir. Terry Zwigoff (2001)
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Juno. Really, I did. But even when I was watching it and being charmed, I knew, underneath it all, that it was just too scripted, the dialog just too smug. Really cute and pleasant...(yes I still want that sometimes. shut up)…but not at all believable. I mean what teenager talks like that? Even really cool ones. No, clearly, that stuff was written, and could never have been actually spoken. But Ghost World was ever so charming and quite believable, at least to me. And Steve Buscemi…why isn’t he a big star?  Love him.

- Bowling for Columbine dir. Michael Moore (2002)
OK, let me not wax poetic here, but this calls to mind an old fashioned Hollywood commercial for old-time movies: “It’ll make you laugh! It’ll make you cry!” Yes, boys and girls, Michael Moore can do that anywhere and he certainly does it here. He has a wonderful way of pointing out the absurd that makes you laugh, then wham. Here comes the footage in the cafeteria, with kids hiding under the tables. Kind of takes your breath away. I am a Michael Moore fan from way back. He has a golden soul and steel balls. Is there a big ego in there too? Probably. Who cares?  You have to give it to him for putting himself out there. Anyone not familiar with his brief tv show TV Nation would do well to look it up.  

- Jesus Camp dir. Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (2006)
This documentary will keep you up at night. And the scariest part about it is that you don’t really hate anyone in it. You can see the good in some of these batshit crazies. But a fat lot of help that will be to us if they and their ilk ever come into power. Not that plenty of them don’t have positions of power even now…just not a majority yet. And imagine, people are worried about Obama’s so-called socialism. That would be a walk in the park compared to what would be in store for us under the WWJD crowd. Whoa. Watch out. They’re all around us.

And, on that scary note, we'll see you back here later this afternoon.

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