Friday, March 23, 2012

Hunger Games

I didn't read the books, so I can't tell you whether or not the plot is exact. BUT it's a great movie. A boy and a girl from each district of a formerly rebellious area have been chosen once a year for 74 years to compete in a fight to the death. The rebellious districts are starving as their punishment for the long ago offense. The "other world" is one of fanciful costumes and plentiful food. It's an adventure movie where you know from the start that most of the 24 kids will be dead by the end- yet, if possible, the violence is handled with a fair amount of discretion. It is still pretty violent even if it is only your mind creating the scene. It is well written, wonderfully acted and beautifully produced. It was about 15 minutes too long- but I can see why the editors couldn't let go of it.  The lead actress is Jennifer Lawrence- and if you didn't see her in Winter's Bone, then you might not recogize her- but she was nominated for an academy award for it (and you should see it also). I loved the costuming and set. It could be next year's awards season winners. The only problem I have is that now a million little girls will be named Katniss-though  it sounds better than Hermione.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

21 Jump Street

Of COURSE I went to see it. (I'm sure you had your doubts).  Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are former high school opposites who become cops and get sent undercover in a high school to find the drug dealing supplier of the drug du jour that has killed a local student. It proves to be a chance for them to relive their high school angst, or lack thereof, in a sort of role reversal. The cast of regulars is in it- if you've seen the other Jonah Hill coming of age "comedies" you will recognize almost all of them. And yes, they get paid for it. Is it a bad movie? Well, not if you know what to expect. For what it is- silly, over done, high school boy gross, etc, it is done fairly well. It is raunchy, a bit violent, vulgar and doesn't pretend to be anything else. Alex laughed more than I did, but I was entertained. So I'll hit the middle ground with 2 stars.  It is never ridiculously funny or horrifically gross.  I am sure I will enjoy the upcoming American Pie sequel more, but til then, this is okay.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Separation

This film won the academy award this year for best foreign film, and it is easy to see why. It was fascinating- because even if you didn't care for the plot or acting, it would be riveting just for the way it portrays modern Iranian society and its treatment of women, as well as how the legal system functions without lawyers but rather uses mediation style judges who hear evidence and pronounce the fate of the parties.  The title is misleading- it is not really about a separation of a married couple. That is merely the catalyst for the rest of the film. It is a film about all kinds of desperation and the results of that desperation. This film was made on a $500,000 budget, so it is fair to assume that nothing was done to manipulate the surroundings- the streets and housing of modern Tehran. To see modern shops and normal traffic and people going about their business (probably oblivious to the camera in their midst) is really interesting. We assume so much about modern Iran, and yet there it is on film with no pretense or manipulation.
If you haven't seen it, go see it. And for my sake, pay a lot of attention to the surroundings and the interpretations of Iranian law. I think we'd settle a lot more small cases in this country without lawyers, and this will make you to think of how that could work.  Also ponder the Iranian law on rights of the unborn child and why that seems to shock some people.
It's a really good movie. REALLY good.  The academy got it right this time.