Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Serious Man

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you will probably find the humor in this movie if you are Jewish. And not the kind of Jewish that never goes to synagogue- or even the kind of Jewish that you became to please your husband's family. I'm talking Saturday school, Bat/bar mitzvah, glass stomping Jewish. Because there are obviously inside jokes here that merely going to synagogue with your junior high friends on Friday night will not explain. It baffled me in spots- about 20 people roared with delight while I, on the other hand, felt like I was watching a movie about Jewish stereotypes. They were all in here- the wise but obtuse rabbi, the shrewish wife, the nebbishy husband and his sycophantic brother, the smart but bored Jewish kids, the sister who saves up for a nose job- and that is just part of it. In a Coen movie, you always wait for the other shoe to drop. So this one leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next and when will someone be killed. The plot summary can easily be found on any website, but suffice it to say, it is Job without a happy ending. I feel it was worth seeing, but it may be too much of an inside joke for any non-Jewish theater goers. But if you are Jewish, you'll probably be one of the people who really can get the humor and who will say it is the best Jewish movie of all time. As an aside- the movie was made in the Minneapolis neighborhood that the Coen's grew up in around the same time as they did. Notice the set decoration. If you were alive in 1967, it will look very familiar.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Whip It

At first, I feared this would be another Ellen Page as 'cooler than hip' teenage angst movie. But within a few moments, it becomes a great, energetic, fun, girl power kind of movie. Drew Barrymore directed it and infused it with the happy kind of stuff she seems to project herself. If you have never understood the phrase "unself-conscious" regarding a movie, then you need to see this one. Not a second of it seem contrived to move the action forward. There is a sort of physical joy to these women who are in the roller derby. It's a gentler roller derby than the kind you'd see in a real professional venue-minimal blood and everyone has most of their teeth. These are the women who do it as a part time job. Of course, it seems trite in the retelling here, and it could be said you'd seen it all before. But it feels fresh and fun. Daniel Stern was my favorite as the father who is proud of his daughter who rejects beauty pageants and would rather roller skate and feel empowered by her agility and strength and not her looks. By the end of the movie, I was in love with its lightness and happiness and girliness. Everyone in Hollywood seems to be in this- in some sort of SNL guest star sort of way. Go see it.

Bright Star

Well, this is one slow, beautifully staged and costumed, theatrical film. I cannot imagine it being described as a date movie- I think it would bore a man to death. It is slower than it needs to be and longer than it needs to be. It is about the romance between the poet Keats and his young love, Fanny Brawne. The costumes are beautiful and very authentic. The acting is lovely. There are longing gazes, silly games, parental anguish, etc. It's not that much of a story, but it's a lot of acting. I can't say I'd see it twice, but it was lovely to see once.