Movie #54: Lord of War. I’m not entirely sure when I saw this, but I did see it, and I kind of enjoyed it. Nicolas Cage is growing on me. It was a movie entirely without hope, bitter and soggy and a little bit political and thoughtful. Done very nicely. I’m not at all surprised it didn’t have a better box office showing.
Movie #55: Elizabethtown. I was going to see this the day it came out (Cameron Crowe!!!), but I fell asleep and ended up at a Saturday matinee. Parts of this movie were just great — pretty much anything that happened in the car (from the driving to Elizabethtown to the driving home), Alec Baldwin, all references to the elaborate bike/knife scheme, everything involving Susan Sarandon, “we peaked on the phone,” etc. The parts that were great really stuck with me. The parts I didn’t like I’ve managed to mostly gloss over in my mind, though one thing felt weird: the movie feels like it’s ending about four times before it really does. The soundtrack, though, is brilliant.
Movie #56: Proof. Oh, this was a good movie. Complex and fast-moving and open for interpretation. I think Gwyneth Paltrow did a brilliant job acting smart and sane and weird and broken and, incidentally, acting under her age. Anthony Hopkins was brilliant, too, and Jake Gyllenhaal as Hal was very good (though I question this casting, a bit — he’s a little too good looking to be the dorky math geek that he’s supposed to be, though he played it well). I like seeing plays adapted to the screen, though usually I’m also distracted in wondering how certain scenes would play on a stage. Here, I was too caught up in the story to wonder until afterwards.
Movie #57: Good Night, and Good Luck. I’ve had only the high school history lessons about the McCarthy era and know even less about Edward R. Murrow, so the first ten minutes or so of this movie really worried me. But it was very well done, tied together brilliantly. David Straitharn was excellent, from the voice to the smoking to the tight control and the confidence. The film ended up with very few well-developed characters, but it stayed interesting. That sounds like nothing, but it’s a black-and-white film with long stretches of just speeches or just newsreel. I really liked this, and really liked the ending.
Movie #58: The Weather Man. Hey, look, it’s Nicolas Cage in another movie that has an ending with basically no resolution. Woo-hoo! Michael Caine is brilliant here, and Cage actually does a very nice job. This movie is a bit like American Beauty in theme — the mid-life crisis, the discovery that nothing’s leading anywhere — but with a different outcome, a different decision made. Every time it edged toward sentimental, it got pulled back, which was a nice effect.
Movie #59: Jarhead. I have been waiting for this movie since reading the book early this year. The book was captivating (I own it, now), and I’ll admit to being very uncertain about how well it would transfer to the screen. The book is told in snippets, out of order, and it was as much a learning experience as a story. The movie actually did this pretty well. It didn’t delve as deeply into anything (obviously it couldn’t, though I missed the family background bits and some of the resolution that the book provided. For instance: Troy died in a car accident, though the movie leaves it open in a way that almost implies suicide (he slid on black ice on his way to work). In the book, Swoff does nearly shoot Fergus over the missing duty thing, but his own near-suicide is a separate matter. The combination was compelling, though it blunted some of the politics of the book. Jake Gyllenhaal was amazing as Anthony Swofford, with some particularly daring scenes, really. I think it’s kind of odd (though I understand why) that most of the promos seem to be highlighting Jamie Foxx’s role in the movie. He’s not a huge part of the action. Really, best acting in the whole thing: Peter Sarsgaard, who won my heart in Kinsey but should, if the movie gods are just, get SOME kind of award simply for his performance in the watch tower scene. Man. Brilliant.
OK, caught up until tomorrow, when I am working through lunch so that I can leave early and go up to catch Green Street Hooligans in Olathe.