My attention to the Song of the Day series, as well as general laziness, has kept me from honoring my promise to review every movie I see. I find that if a movie is destined for my top ten list I usually review it pretty soon after I see it, but if not, I let it sit. And if it sits long enough, it’s in danger of never being reviewed at all.
So I skimmed the list of 2010 movies I’ve seen in recent months and realized a full ten of them have gone undocumented on Meet Me In Montauk.
To remedy that situation in one fell swoop, I’m going to write capsule reviews of each of them in this post.
So here goes nothing (titles are presented alphabetically):
If Annette Bening upsets Natalie Portman on Sunday night and finally lands the Best Actress Oscar that has long eluded her, she’ll have Joni Mitchell to thank.
Bening is stellar throughout The Kids Are All Right, playing a lesbian mother of two whose life is turned upside down after her kids track down their sperm donor, but she crosses over to transcendent during a dinner-table scene a little more than halfway through the film.
She’s making a good effort to befriend the donor (played with rakish charm by Mark Ruffalo) and is struck by the Joni Mitchell records in his vinyl collection. Tipsy on a little too much wine (as she is during much of the film), she launches into a full-throated rendition of ‘All I Want’ from Mitchell’s Blue.
For some reason it has taken me a long time to get around to reviewing this movie. Some movies send me out of the theater and directly to my keyboard while others are more stubborn.
And now I’m in a weird position, as the discussion about The King’s Speech has evolved from “heart-warming little movie you should try to catch” to “Oscar-bait Brit-flick that’s going to steal the gold from The Social Network.” It’s become a real war online among the geeks who get perturbed by the Oscar race.
I don’t count myself as one of those geeks. I do get into the horse race aspect of the Oscars, and I’ll certainly root for my favorites to win, but I’m long past getting upset when something safe and obvious wins over something daring and exciting. I think Dances With Wolves defeating Goodfellas pretty much killed the Oscars in my mind as any true barometer of great cinema.
Every couple of years (and more often than that lately), the Coen Brothers release another film that cements their place among America’s finest and most consistent filmmakers. Recently, on the heels of 2007’s Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men, they released the hilarious screwball comedy Burn After Reading and last year’s brilliantly dark Book of Job-inspired A Serious Man.
In 2010, they return with True Grit, not so much a remake of the 1969 John Wayne classic, they say, but a more faithful adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel. Having neither seen the original film nor read Portis’ novel, I’m in a position to judge the Coens’ film simply on its own merits.
The verdict: it’s sublime.
This movie season I feel like an honorary citizen of Boston. First came The Town, a hard-boiled, authentic look at a gang of bank robbers in Charlestown. And now there’s The Fighter, an equally hard-boiled and equally authentic exploration of a pair of boxing brothers in Lowell. These are two of the best films I’ve seen this year and their setting is a key reason why.
The Fighter tells the true tale of welterweight Micky Ward, an introspective bruiser whose own family proved as formidable an obstacle to his success as anybody he faced in the ring.
But unlike a long line of small town dreamers who strive to succeed so they can escape their situation, Ward wants to win as much for Lowell as himself. The central conflict of the film is whether he can be a champion without abandoning the people and the place he loves.