Well, dear readers…things around our casa are still rather nutso, but after spending too much time (a whole hour!) feeling sorry for myself about it yesterday, I’ve decided to do what Annie did and stick up my chin and grin and saaaaayyyyy…..ohhh….tomorrow! tomorrow! I’ll clean up, tomorrow!
So now it’s tomorrow, and I’ve got a bunch of cleaning-up to do. But I’m starting with a fun cleaning-up task: movie project catch-up blog! The dishes can wait…
Going all the way back to early June, I first watched a pretty lame movie called Paper Heart. It had Michael Cera of Arrested Development, Juno, and Superbad fame in it and I really wanted to love it for his sake, but his costar was so…I don’t know. I don’t like to call people I don’t even know annoying, but I was annoyed. By her. So I guess she was annoying. To me. It also was like a mock documentary or something and I didn’t really get it. Would not recommend, unless you enjoy annoyance.
Then I couldn’t resist a movie entitled Schultze Gets the Blues, because a tragic re-spelling of that popular German last name was my maiden name. I say the re-spelling was tragic because no one ever got it right, which was the #1 reason I ditched it when I got married. I was like, “I’m all for progressiveness in marriage and honoring women as they come into that relationship, and I don’t plan to change as an individual because I’m getting hitched, but heck if I’m not ditching this last name!” Sorry, Dad. Oh, right. I watched a movie. This was a German movie and the story goes like this: retired guy Schultze has nothing to do now that he’s retired. He and his other pals forced into early retirement from the mine sit around at a local pub and they are all supremely bored.
Schultze is an accordian player and comes from a long line of such musicians. But one day he hears zydeco on the radio and suddenly he can’t abide playing polkas any longer. When he’s sent by his local accordian players club to their sister city in America to play for a polka festival, he skips out, buys a boat, and trucks on down the bayou instead, chasing his new musical obsession. The movie was good; a lot of slow scenes, many long shots of rooms or landscapes. I don’t know that I can wholeheartedly recommend it but neither was it a waste of my time.
The Rage in Placid Lake was a funny little movie. This young man raised by total hippies is bullied his whole life. He’s got a Girl Friday in nerdy scientist Gemma, but his parents are too pacifist to help him stand up to the kids and teachers who mistreat him. He gets mad and goes into revenge mode, taking on everyone in turn (save Gemma, whom he of course loves.) It was funny to see him punishing his parents by becoming a white-collar, fairly successful insurance company-man. Again, a fun little movie but nothing earth-shattering.
Finally, we get to a movie I can whole-heartedly endorse with every cell of my being: The Men Who Stare At Goats. As previously noted, George Clooney is my boyfriend. Well, guess what? So is Ewan McGreggor, and they are the main co-stars of this comedy based on some true events. So I was in heaven. Sure, McGreggor’s accent was uneven and distracting at times, but the two actors were charming together.
So the basic premise is that in the past, the U.S. Army explored paranormal powers as a possible weapon for their arsenal (this is true! Hilarious!) Men were trained in mind control, telepathy-type stuff. I don’t even want to say much more except that Clooney and McGreggor play off one another perfectly and Jeff Bridges plays his part as the head of the psychic soldiers group perfectly with delightful results. I loved it, and if you love me, just go watch it (and when they get to the part about the “sparkle eyes technique”, think of me.)
Sunshine Cleaning was a movie chosen because I have a twisted little secret (okay, more than one but here’s just one of them): I am fascinated by forensics. Like, after someone dies in a mysterious way and they send in the forensic scientists to figure out what happened? I love that stuff. The entire time I was gestating Max, Joe and I sat home on the weekend evenings cuddled on the couch and watched every single show on “Forensic Fridays” or “Saturday Night Solution” on Court TV. At one time I had seen every episode of Forensic Files and could tell you within the first minute of an episode how the victim had been determined to have died in that particular show. Yikes. So I thought this movie about a pair of offbeat sisters starting a post-mortem cleaning service would be more like that. Good for everyone besides me, it wasn’t. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play the sisters, and they’re charming. It’s really about the two of them figuring out who they actually are as people and as sisters who grew up without a mother. So I do recommend it, even though it lacked any mention of succinylcholine (they didn’t even once use luminol!)
I already wrote about TiMER, so next I watched James and the Giant Peach with the kids during Fish Camp Week. So, here’s what I’ll say about that: my kids were terrified. I remember reading the book as a child and I knew it turned out all right in the end, but I remembered no specifics of the story. For the first 20 minutes my kids begged me to turn it off. Please think no less of me as a human being for what I am about to admit: I talked them into sticking it out. They often gets anxious about movies or shows with some kind of interpersonal conflict (rather than violence or monsters or anything typically scary) so I always have to tell them that the ending will be happy and let’s just keep watching a little bit more. By the end they said they’d enjoyed the movie, though when Joe asked them later if they’d watch it again sometime (he wanted to watch it) the answer was a resounding “NO!” So take that as your film review.
Next was a movie I cannot gush about enough: I Capture the Castle. Let me say first that I read the book by Dodie Smith several years ago and loved it. Like, one of my top ten, if not top five. Please, please do yourself a favor if you’re a book lover like me and read this book…before you watch this movie, which unlike most movies based on beloved books did not disappoint. Maybe because they didn’t muck around with the story, as it’s compelling and lovely just as it is, and I thought it translated to film very well. In this story, set in the 1930’s, a father of three children has written a very highly-regarded first book and then disappeared into obscurity with his family to a rented, dilapitated English countryside castle. He cannot recreate anything as good as his first work and has been crippled by the pressure and mental instability for more than a decade. His wife has died and he has remarried an eccentric artist with a penchant for nudity named Topaz. His two eldest children, daughters Rose and Cassandra, have come of age but have no prospects of marriage. Rose is dramatic and loves beautiful things, perhaps as a direct result of having no fine things herself, and she resolves to marry a rich man if ever she can find one. Cassandra is the narrator of the story and our protagonist is dreamy but practical, aspires to write herself while attempting to cure her father’s writer’s block; she loves her sister but it wildly different from her. Their younger brother is a peripheral but funny kid. Not too far into our story enter a pair of brothers, whom they meet during a chance encounter during a storm, only to discover they own all the lands on which the castle stands (and therefore the castle itself.) You can see the wheels turning in Rose’s pretty little head.
And that’s all I’m going to reveal of the plot because as I said, you must first read this beautiful novel, and then you must watch this incredible film adaptation.
And finally, because I’m giving Eclipse it’s own post, I get to Penelope. I don’t know how I ended up watching it but it’s a little fairy-tale movie about a girl with a pig-nose. Seriously. It was some family curse or something. It was fine, I guess, but seeing as the target audience for this film was teenage girls I didn’t really love it. Oh, wait…Eclipse is for teenage girls. Hmmm. Well, that’s for another post! (Likely later today, even. I want to be caught up! But after getting caught up with dishes!) So here we are at the end of July and I am just under halfway through my goal of 100 movies this year. I’m only about 8 behind! I can still do it, right?!?