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A Christmas in Reviews - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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A Christmas in Reviews [Dec. 25th, 2005|11:31 pm]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |exhaustedexhausted, but happy]

Back from our little personal movie marathon. Quick reviews before we head for bed.

Good Night and Good Luck: The most painful thing about this movie is that they don't make journalists like Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly anymore. I remember when CBS was all about the talking heads of news, but when Fred Friendly came back to television from his teaching position at Columbia University, his Fred R. Friendly Seminars were shown on PBS, not CBS. He was right when he said that it's a crying shame that we are so determined to be entertained that we reject serious news and real examination of issues.

George Clooney's directorial choice to shoot in black and white so that he could use archival footage of Joe McCarthy was a brilliant one. The terror that McCarthy inflicted is a bit too understated and audiences unfamiliar with the way the man ruined lives may not really understand what all the fuss is about. But the parallels to what's going on today are sobering, if occasionally a little heavy handed. Highly recommended.

The Squid and the Whale: This movie ended up in the line-up only by seredipity - there was a hole in the schedule, and I had heard a couple good things about it, so we went for it. What good fortune. Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney both give outstanding performances in a movie about a family falling apart. So much of it rings true that I have trouble talking about it. Characters are sympathetic from unexpected angles, and the movie has a spare style that allows the emotion to shine through. Ferrett's favorite of the day.

Capote: The newest Hollywood trend seems to be biopics where actors completely immerse themselves into the character to the point that the actor disappears and only the immitation remains. Ref: Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, Joaquin Phoenix as Johnnie Cash, and now Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote. The effect reminds me a bit of visiting Madame Tussaud's wax museum: the likeness is amazing, but the surroundings seem a bit shabby. Hoffman gives an A+ performance in a B+ movie. Like Ray, I feel like the director was a little too in love with the characterization of the star and lost focus. That said, it was really quite good and I recommend it, if only to see Hoffman's Capote in action.

Munich: About an hour and 15 minutes into this movie, I leaned over to Ferrett and whispered, "Is it just me, or is this a crashing bore?" He looked at me with wide, grateful eyes and whispered back, "Oh thank god it's not just me!"

It then went on for another interminable two hours and change.

This movie is getting a lot of great reviews and I cannot for the life of me see why. The pacing is glacial, the characterization bland, the setups repetitive, and the endings more numerous than those for Return of the King. It begins with the Israeli hostage-taking in Munich and is the tale of how revenge only begets more violence and makes us just as bad as our enemies.

Can anyone say, "duh"? Even more, can anyone say, "Traffic"? This feels like the same kind of heavy-handed moralizing about painfully obvious truths that made me wonder where the hell all the people who were surprised by it had been hiding for the last couple decades. I found it utterly forgettable, and the only reason it will not be a mere waste of three hours is the determination of people to see it as an Oscar movie. The emperor has no clothes here, people. Or maybe way too many clothes, weighted down by far too many layers of meaninglessness. When I went out to the restroom, I was sorely tempted to sneak into Pride and Prejudice for a little while, but I knew Ferrett would worry. My greatest regret is that we both resisted the temptation to walk out. It was that boring. Like, "please just blow everyone up so I can go home" boring.

----

And you know the best part of the day? Between Capote and Munich we had an hour for dinner. We walked up and down the block, but everything was closed.

Except the Chinese place. And so, we had Chinese food for Christmas dinner in Cleveland. Alas, they did not serve duck, nor did they sing "Jingur-Bears," but it still made us laugh.
LinkReply

Comments:
From: odclay
2005-12-26 07:38 am (UTC)
Chinese and movies? Sounds like you had a lovely Jewmas!
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[User Picture]From: rhapsody_98
2005-12-26 04:42 pm (UTC)
ROFL! I always wondered what the Jews did on Christmas. Sounds better than MY holiday. Heh
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-26 01:18 pm (UTC)
I do indeed. They were awesome.
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[User Picture]From: undertheivy99
2005-12-27 06:03 am (UTC)
1. I'm loving the icon. Did you type the whole book in or just one chapter?

2. Your screen name - after the movie or the Kate Bush album?

Loves Kate "Under the Ivy" Bush,
Patty
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[User Picture]From: zianuray
2005-12-26 02:30 pm (UTC)
I don't get it....if Munich was so horribly boring, why sit through it?

Not snarking, just wondering.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-26 05:05 pm (UTC)
It got such great reviews that we were hoping for that moment that would turn it around for us?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-27 10:16 am (UTC)
If I'm watching at home, I'm actually pretty capable of turning off a movie. But there is something about being in a movie theater that really makes me reluctant to abandon it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-27 11:49 am (UTC)
I think it's that commitment. You've gone out; you were motivated enough to pay the big bucks. Whereas when you've rented it at home, you can think, "so this is why I didn't bother seeing it in the theater."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-27 11:53 am (UTC)
Also very true.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-27 11:51 am (UTC)

Re: really shutting up and going away now, I swear

Yeah, I think my window is a little longer, but there comes a point when you feel like you might as well know how it ends.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2005-12-26 05:37 pm (UTC)
Plus, if we went around saying that we hated it as vitriolically as we did, the last thing we'd want is for somebody to say, "But man, the last half an hour is so intense!"

We've disagreed on movies before - I liked Passion of the Christ, she despised it - but if we're gonna slag a movie that's got four-star reviews and Oscar buzz, we'd better be prepared to defend that hatred.
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[User Picture]From: zianuray
2005-12-26 05:59 pm (UTC)
Ah. That I can understand. Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: rhapsody_98
2005-12-26 04:41 pm (UTC)
"Fa ra ra ra ra / ra ra ra ra!"
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[User Picture]From: greybeta
2005-12-27 01:15 am (UTC)
Hmmm, I'll have to check Capote out.

Now, I request that you pimp a post of mine. You said a post about the Slurpee Syndrome couldn't be written, but I just did it. You understimate your husband's pupil, Mrs. Ferrett.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-27 01:39 am (UTC)
Sorry, dude. My pimpin' cannot be bought, only earned through rare insight, and this entry of yours does not reach that rare elevation of "subjects important enough to bother my readers with." Heck, I rarely even pimp my own kid!
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[User Picture]From: greybeta
2005-12-27 01:43 am (UTC)
LOL, but it was worth a try, wasn't it Mrs. Ferrett?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-27 01:59 am (UTC)
Can't fault you for that, dear.
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[User Picture]From: undertheivy99
2005-12-27 05:50 am (UTC)
We also did Chinese food on Christmas Day in Parma (suburb of Cleveland) but no one sang "Deck the Halls with Bows of Howwy" to us, either.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-27 11:51 am (UTC)
It is indeed.
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[User Picture]From: fitfool
2005-12-28 01:33 am (UTC)
I had not lived through the whole McCarthyism scare and found the movie riveting. Gave me hope too with the reminder that whatever faults our country has, we do tend to try to make things right eventually. One friend said that the movie is slightly misleading in that the whole scare tactics thing was losing momentum by the time Murrow joined the fray so he was not risking as much as the movie implied. I'm not sure I believe him but wondered if you knew any more of the history of that period. Clooney gained my respect for this project when I heard this interview (which coincidentally re-aired today) with him on NPR:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4963561
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-28 03:14 am (UTC)
I just happened by dumb luck to catch the interview while driving to the Canton airport. My respect level jumped as well.

McCarthyism was before my time, but Murrow is credited as being the one who took the behind-the-scenes grumbling into the spotlight. But it was still very scary for them.
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[User Picture]From: fitfool
2005-12-28 04:49 am (UTC)
ah ok. Good for him then!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-28 10:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, I'm always amazed when people seem determined to minimize the contributions of such people. There's this whole, "Well, someone was going to do it eventually!" thing. True as that may be, the fact is that he is the someone who did.

I have to respect Clooney for the fact that he didn't overly exploit McCarthy by showing that he was drunk during the broadcast. It would have detracted from the message, but it's not always easy to see that. He made impressive directorial choices.
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[User Picture]From: firefred
2005-12-30 11:40 pm (UTC)

various films

Capote: so you would recommend it? More than the Cash film? I was going to see it, but apparently my small town theater is not into anything Capote (too gay?)
Munich (Spielberg) - some more reasons for boring? Just asking to make sure, you already gave plenty. I only saw the trailer, and it did not exactly make me want to go see it. I guess I'll skip it.
Biopics: not a big fan of those. I'd rather watch the real thing, but alas, sometimes people are already dead & it's not available.
I have been watching the reissued "Born to Boogie" T. Rex/Marc Bolan film (filmed by Ringo Starr) lately, and that's tons better than any biopic!
Worst biopic for me so far: David Cassidy :(
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-31 04:16 am (UTC)

Re: various films

Have not seen the Cash film yet (that might be tomorrow night), so can't say for sure, but I would definitely recommend Capote.

Munich just felt redundant, like the set-ups were interminable and the point was more than a little hammered home. Other people are clearly loving it, though, so keep an open mind.
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[User Picture]From: firefred
2006-01-07 01:38 am (UTC)

Re: various films

well, after your comments, will not watch "Munich", I already submitted myself to watching "The Family Stone" recently. And now, at home I am watching "The Pianist". So uplifting. Great fim, though.

And still no Capote in my local movie theater. I blame it on living in a small town in the south.
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