Saturday, February 21, 2009
gimme some movies

I have seen some very interesting films in the last few weeks. The first one was the BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM of 2007, which won The Oscar....The Foreign Film. This is a huge category to start out with---my dear departed friend Hanna was on the Foreign Film Committee at The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, for many many MANY years....The amount of films this committee had to watch was humongous, and in fact, they separated the committee into two parts because there were so very many entry's. And each of these halves would watch two films each evening....This went on for months---(Occasionally I would go with her as her guest, which was always interesting)....Then the two committees would vote on all the films and the five top contenders were picked from that huge group. "The Lives Of Others" was the German Film Entry for 2007, and as I said, this is the film that won for Best Foreign Film in 2007, and that is what I watched.
It is a fascinating film that held my interest from the very first frame till the very last....I've not seen anything quite like this and I enjoyed it tremendously. It is beautifully filmed with great actors and some very lovely special music, too.....This is truly worth seeing if you have any interest in East Germany just before the Wall came down.....!

It interested me because the many parallels between the Communists and The Nazis is quite stunning. The similarities with other things happening right now in our own country, though maybe not quite this extreme, was a presence in my mind as I watched this really fine fine film, too. Usually the top five nominees in the Foreign Film Category picked from country's all over the world that submit their films, are really quite special. "The Lives Of Others", absolutely fits that bill. And there is not a boring moment in almost has the feel of a 'thriller'---one is very much on the edge of one's seat, throughout....Do rent it, if you get a chance.

Another film that I watched, "Martian Child", is a very sweet special picture. John Cusack is the star along with some other very fine actors, including his sister Joan Cusack, playing his sister in the film, and Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt, Howard Hessman, the lovely Sophie Okenado, and in a small but stunning role, the incandescent Anjelica Houston. Plus, there is a little boy named Bobby Coleman, who is amazing in every way, and who plays 'The Martian Child'. It is a very touching story and is about some truly important ideas---mainly, the true importance of being oneself even if it alienates others....! The absolutely essential idea of not trying to change who you are so you will 'fit' everyone else's idea of who you should be. Another surprise film for me. I found it terribly moving and quite funny, has so much humanity in it....! This Is A Must See.....!

Then I saw "The Secret Life Of Bees".....this is a very nice little film---not great, but very nice, and has a lot to say about many things...Not the least of which is racism in the south in the mid 1960's....The cast is quite wonderful, Dakota Fanning--my Lordy she is a talented young actress, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, and the incredible Sophie Okenada, a part that fits her like a glove......

I was unfamiliar with the two young Aftrican American male actors---both very good, by the way, who are also in the film----and, then the actor who plays Dakota Fannings father in the film is the incredibly talented English actor, Paul Bettany, doing a perfect southern accent, by the way. This is a very sweet hopeful story, and though it is not a perfect film in many ways, I think it is worth seeing, and I also think we can sure use a lot more of these kinds of hopeful story's......It is also quite amazing to see three very talented singers like Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson, all in a movie where none of them sing....!

"The Assassination Of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Howard" is a beautifully filmed picture, and it is a BIG picture, unlike the other films I have been talking about....but, it is very long and very very s-l-o-w....I don't mind slow, if something is filling the pauses or if the pauses actually serve something for us, the audience. To me, the endless pauses in this picture just got tiresome, and frankly I even considered that there was something wrong with the disc, because it felt like there was no pace at all to this film, except s-l-o-w.....It is also a film filled with a lot of cruelty and I'm just not sure I understand why this story was, once again, told.....And further, I am not a huge fan of Casey Affleck, who plays Bob Howard.....
I find him rather detached as an actor, and sometimes difficult to understand, too. I do like Brad Pitt very much, and I thought he was very good in the film....but is all too long and ultimately pretty boring because of the, to me, lack of pace.....I know there are people who will disagree with me and that is fine. I am just reporting on my own personal subjective experience....And that is true for all the films I write about.

UPDATE: After a week I watched this film again, and had a very different experience. I still think it is too long, but this time, I got more caught up in the story, and it all did seem to hold together better for me. And once again, I was very impressed with the beauty of the Cinematography. So, it is certainly worth seeing if you know going in it is long, rather slow, and pretty violent.

Another film that surprised me because I wasn't expecting to be moved and, in fact, I wasn't expecting much of anything at all, was "The Jane Austen Book Club". I really liked this film a lot. I know there are many who think it is nothing but 'witless Soap Opera'...(I'll take that, I found it sweet and funny and very touching, too....It made me want to read ALL of Jane Austen all over again, which is not a bad thing, at all! The performances all across the board are really wonderful. The cast includes, Maria Bello, Kathy Baker, Amy Brenneman, Emily Blount, Maggie Grace and Hugh Dancy. (Who I really didn't like at all in "Evening", but who I absolutely loved a whole lot in this little film....), all of whom are the members of 'the book club', and then there are Jimmy Smits and Marc Blucas playing the husbands of two of the women, and a very beautiful young man named Kevin Zegers, playing a student of Emily Blount's.....Plus....the magnificent Lynn Redgrave in a 'cameo' appearance as Emily Blounts mother. I love that these actresses like Anjelica Houston and Lynn Redgrave are willing to take these small parts in small films; they add a great deal of weight to a film just by their very presence, but then, they also come through with the goods......!

This is a very satisfying film and though it might be classified as a "chick flick"----I hate that label, by the way---it is much much more than that. If you haven't seen it, do rent it. In fact, all of these films are rent able.....

For anyone who thinks I watch an awful lot of movies---Well, you are right. I do! (lol) I LOVE movies and it is also such a big part of my professional world as well as my personal world, too.....I am grateful for all the really wonderful inspiring films I see, and the ones that give me a laugh, too, and I am deeply deeply grateful for all the films that touch my heart!

The movies have always saved my life and they continue to do so, I am happy to say.....!

More To Come......


Blogger PI
had this to say:

I would love to see more movies. I never seemn to catch up. It's good to see Sophie Okenada and Paul Bettany are doing so well over there. The Jane Austen Club film sounds just up my street.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 8:11:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I've seen Martian Child and I really liked it a lot. It was really good, and I like John Cusack. I saw him in a thriller movie called 1408 (or something close to that). The number is a room number for a haunted room at a hotel in New York. The movie also stars Samuel L. Jackson. It was not a great movie, but it was a enough of a thriller to keep me interested and wanting to find out how it ends.
I saw The Jane Austin Book Club, and I enjoyed it too.
I usually enjoy most movies I watch unless they are really boring or if the acting is awful.
I've heard of that German movie before, but I did not see it.
Courtney went to see Slumdog Millionaire last night.
I told her that you really liked it. Later that night, she said she really liked it too. So, I said, "Naomi was right!"
I like when you give critiques on movies. I hope you continue to do so.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 10:09:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

The only one I've seen was Martian Child. That was a good one.

I've got a few movies sitting around from NetFlix. I need to get them watched so I can get some more!

Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 6:04:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

John Cusack is a wonderful actor and The Martian Child was a sweet surprise. I was expecting to laugh more (because JC movies are always charming and funny), but this was no Serendipity...or maybe it was, in a different kind of way. I loved the child actor in the movie and how being different made him special.

The Secret Life of Bees was a great book, and I've yet to see the movie. The Jane Austen Book Club is on my must-see list, especially now, after your fine review.

Like you, the movies have saved me and will always save me. To get lost in a movie is the best kind of escape, and sometimes it's the best way to find yourself.

Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 8:24:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I've not seen any of those yet, but I do plan to see The Secret Life of Bees. I read the book and liked it a lot. I am sad to know that the three fabulous singers don't sing in that movie! I thought maybe some singing at home together.....

Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 9:04:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I have got Secret Life of Bees on my 'Must See' list - that'll probably be an outing with the Bobkat. I adore Dakota, she is a stunning, committed young actress and I love her work. CK and I became addicted to her after Man on Fire and Hide and Seek - two powerful movies for a little girl. And as for Queen Latifah - SO beautiful, quality actress, soulful singer; that gal can do no wrong! And Our Paul? What an export us Brits have sent you! :-)

I have never heard of Martian Child, but will keep an eye open for it as I do like John and Joan Cusak.

And so to Jane Austen Book Club - OMIGOD! CK and I watched it in Canada and came away with a desire to read all Jane's books (I have done so previously, he had not) and the firm intention to buy our own copies. What an amazing film, it goes beyond 'Chick Flick'; it's more a buddy movie than a chick flick. And they mix up the buddies - like women do, moving among their friends, gaining knowledge and experience and an insight into oneself.

I love your film reviews, my dear.


Friday, February 20, 2009 at 12:02:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Think I have seen the Jesse James or heard of it. But the others i am nill on.. LOL. but sounds like things that sound fantastic though.

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 1:45:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

Hei Naomi! I am interested to watch the Secret Life of Bees. I havent watch movies lately. The last one was Twilight. But I have been watching a lot of series like Demons, Merlin and Dollhouse.

Btw, your site can't be viewed on Firefox but it works on IE.

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 6:03:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I love your reviews. They are so honest and thourough. I saw Martian Child and liked it too. I probably wouldn't see the Jessie James one because I'm not that into cowboy and violence movies enough to spend time or money on, but sometimes when I catch some of these movies while channel hopping or something I end up getting into them.

I read The Secret of Bees. I kept seeing Oprah or a younger Della Reese in the Queen Lativa role. I enjoyed the book.

I'm writing down the book club one. I have to go to the video store with a list in hand or I get so overwhelmed. The store has a six for #6 deal for not so new movies so I need to go with some ideas. I recently enjoyed Surrender Dorthothy with Diane Keaton in a one group. I love movies about how people deal with death. That's the study course I'm on. Also the movie you suggested last year with Far and Away... I still think about it!

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 9:15:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I'm back and now it works fine when I read it in IE mode on FireFox.

What a great movie review - your such a greaat film reporter and its interesting to read your personal opinion. I think I would love to see 'Secret Life of Bees'.

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 2:59:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I just saw Jane Austen Book Club and I really enjoyed it and ... I went to the library and got Sense and Sensibility - I have decided to re-read them all - in order!!

how funny you mentioned this today

The movies have saved me many times especially when I was a child

Remember the old movie magazines? Not the tabloid crap out now but real magazines with glamorous photos and behind the scenes stories - I loved those

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 6:50:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Great reviews. I was really disappointed with the Assasination of Jesse James- and I like westerns. To say it was slow is an understatement.
The film that really surprised me recently is Bella. Both my husband and I were moved by the story.

Friday, February 20, 2009 at 8:43:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Hi there! I've got to get back on the movie bandwagon! I have allowed my writing to eat up much more of my time than I should let it. I'm very interested in The Lives of Others and remember when it was released and when it won. then, promptly forgot. So thank you for reminding me.

And I love Jane Austen's novels and have read them all....(no one in my mind will ever surpass Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. :)) But havent seen the Jane Austen Book Club. Will do that.

John and Joan Cusack are favs in my house....and we havent seen The Martian Child. I'll suggest this one too to my husband.

thanks Naomi.

I look forward to your Oscar reviews.

Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 1:55:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I picked up Jesse James cheap on DVD recently - not having seen it on the cinema.

Oh, and I too was rather surprised at The Jane Austin Book Club. I rolled my eyes when it was proposed we watch it at a friends house (I was the only male in the room) but I admit I really liked it. So much so I'm probably going to pick it up on DVD to watch again on my own [grin]

Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 6:56:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi! I love reading your take on movies you see. I know you do enjoy movies! I have never seen any of these. The Jane Austen Book Club sounds like one I would like. I also hate that term 'chick flick.'

Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 7:08:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I enjoyed your reviews of the movies. After I read to go to IE to read your reviews, I read them and enjoyed. I have the "Secret...Bees" but a friend borrowed it, and now I can't wait to get it back. I read the book a few years ago, so look forward to seeing the movie. I too, love Jane Austen and have her books and the movies of some of her books. I can't wait to watch the movie...

Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 9:12:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Thanks for the recs. Every Friday night, my best friend comes over with her two kids. The kids play upstairs, and we watch a movie together. I'm going to add Martian Child for next week and Jane Austen Club for the week after.

Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 3:31:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

A viewing of "The Secret Life of Bees' was free at our local library last month, and as I had just read the book, I went to see it, and absolutely loved it. You are right about Ms Keys, Ms Latifah and Ms Hudson... for singers acting in an non singing film they were superb!
I haven't seen any of the other films you mention, but I now have them on my "must see" list on your reccommendation, Naomi!

Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 5:27:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I hate the term 'chick flick' too. It seems to say that it if is without substance then it's for women and I find that insulting in every way! It also suggests that women are not interested in action movies or that men cannot possibly be interested in films about emotion. What rubbish! I know many men that like the odd chick flick but don't like to own up to it because of this perceived notion!

I very much enjoyed the Jane Austen Book Club too and Martian Child is on my list to see. I have just been re-reading the Jane Austen books and I always enjoy them. If you haven't seen it already then 'Emma' with Gweneth Paltrow in it is very enjoyable as is Sense and Sensability with Emma Thomson and Kate Winslet. I suspect you might have seen them though. Another film I liked was another John Cusack film (I have always liked him) called 'Must Love Dogs'. It's another film full of feeling but not overdone.

Thanks for the reviews :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 5:07:00 AM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

I've been wanting to see The Jane Austin Book Club, so I was happy to hear your recommendation of it.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 3:39:00 PM PST 

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Name: OldOldLady Of The Hills
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