Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Last King of Scotland

If this doesn't scare the pants off of you then you aren't wearing any. Hands down, Forrest Whittaker does the best acting job of the year as Idi Amin. If you want to know why Africa cannot get it together and cannot keep it together, look at the politics of the continent. The wholesale intimidation by slaughter and torture seems as natural as a herd of antelope. This movie is powerful and intense and very adult. It is gruesome and cruel. And it is fascinating. I don't plan on going to Africa any time soon.


This is a little soap opera of a movie with a real beginning and middle and end. It was fun to watch. Penelope Cruz is just luminous in this. Normally I think of her as being the homely little sister of Salma Hayak. But she is really lovely and very easy to watch in this. It's a girl movie in a lot of ways- with women being strong and holding on to one another. It is a multigenerational film. It is subtitled- but soon you will be speaking Spanish just like they are. I'd recommend it.

The Painted Veil

This is an intriguing film about an unhappy woman who is forced to follow her epidemiologically minded husband (Edward Norton) into the cholera epidemic raging in a section China. If you can stand the slow pace, sit back and enjoy the scenery and costuming. It is a beautiful film to watch. Say what you will about really skinny girls, but all 100 pounds of Naomi Watts looks fantastic in the costumes. Her dresses were fabulous- and quite unbelievable in the hot and humid region of China she is learning to grow in. I thought it was a little bit of a snoozer in spots- so be prepared with some popcorn and diet coke. Since Edward Norton is such a great actor to watch, there is a real reason to go see it.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

This is, like most real fairy tales, a violent, bloody and intense story. During WWII, a desperate woman marries a sadistic Spanish army captain, gets pregnant and moves with her young daughter to an encampment in the woods. The captain is a vicious and cruel man. And the daughter escapes into a world of fairies (not the cute kind like Disney) and ogres. There is nothing cute in this movie- it is dark, full of scenes of torture and gore and hate. It is evil that the child is trying desperately to escape. She performs tasks in a magical world- one where she says "I am not afraid". Truly, she is a very brave little girl indeed. What in this film is real and what is not? You can form your own opinions. Does the little girl really do things? Or is she locked into a world of make believe to protect herself from the horrible world around her. This is a movie that seems to get better the more I think about all of the nuances. It is not for children- in fact, Alex and I both had to look away in some of the torture scenes. There is a great deal of blood and adult issues. Not for kids at all. But it is a very intense and moving experience to be in the audience.