Posts Tagged ‘Sunset 5’

Two Blondes Go To a Movie: The Reader

February 24, 2009

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble a lot about themselves:

thereader_poster061

ALISON SAYS:

I really related to the The Reader, because Jessica and I often read our blogs out loud to one another, while playing with each other’s hair and one of us carries a terrible secret that will cause the other great pain and intimacy issues.

300thereaderkrosswinsletlc1211081All joking aside, I thought this film was fantastic. Sure, I had trouble sympathizing with Hannah Schmitz, a woman who chose duty over human life. But she was one of the most complex characters I’ve encountered on film. And she was brought to life by the amazing Kate Winslet, who deserves every accolade and naked, golden man to come her way. I also was equally impressed with David Kross, who was barely eighteen when they shot the film. He held his own while sharing the screen with one of the world’s most famous actresses. And made me believe his story as he evolved from naive innocence to a man burdened by betrayal.

Here’s what we’ve also learned from this film and the Oscar winners: Stephen Daldry + talented actress + special effects makeup = Oscar (Please see either The Reader or The Hours as examples.)

I read that Daldry will be directing The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. This was one of my favorite books of the last ten years, so I’m both excited and nervous to see what he does with it. If you haven’t read it, please run out and get it right away.

LA Viewers: Hurry to Sunset 5 and go see this film.

Translation for non LA-viewers: Go see it. And be prepared for a lot of nudity and top-notch acting.

JESSICA SAYS:

This may sound dense, but I didn’t really think The Reader was going to be about reading. I know, it’s right there in the title, but I just didn’t give it much thought. I just assumed it was about a Nazi SS officer and probably sex, since Kate Winslet was supposed to be naked for a large part of the film. I must admit, I was quite pleased when I realized it really was about the joy/power/sexiness of reading. I love being read to, which I’m sure is true for a lot of people. However, I also love reading to someone. I like to put on voices for the characters and give my own interpretation, but don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no designs on ever acting. I just like to give the occasional dramatic interpretation for an audience of one or two. Unfortunately, after somewhere around the age of 12 (junior high), people think it’s weird if you want to read to them. Well, most people. My sister and I have logged hours on beaches or in bed at Mom’s or Dad’s house with me reading to her (until she falls asleep). I was particularly proud of my Bridget Jones’s Diary reading I gave at Myrtle Beach some years ago. You should try it. It’s fun.

Kate Winslet is splendid, as always. I’ve never seen a performance of hers that I did not enjoy…and that includes The Holiday (not a great film, but she’s lovely). She is so completely raw and daring; totally deserving of her Oscar and Golden Globe win. However, she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and this is clearly a lead actress role. I understand that by putting her in the supporting category, she wasn’t competing against herself for Revolutionary Road, but it just seems weird to call this role ‘supporting.’

I am very thankful I can read, especially after seeing The Reader. That’s the main thought I came away with at the end of the movie. You see, Hanna Schmitz (Winslet) is illiterate and the big question of the film is does this excuse not only being complicit, but directly involved in one of the most tragic and horrifying events in history. I felt like the implied answer by the end of the film was yes and that bothers me. Well, OK, perhaps the statement made was closer to saying the fact that she teaches herself to read in prison somehow makes up for allowing innocent people to be murdered.  I think instinctually, even if you had never seen a book in your life, a (sane, adult) human knows it’s wrong to kill another person. The fact that there was some sort of redemption for a Nazi in this story was hard for me to swallow.

After you see this movie, I want you to think about Ricky Gervais’ quip at the Golden Globes about Holocaust films garnering automatic acclaim and see if there isn’t the ring of truth there. Kate Winslet is splendid. The Reader is…OK. I recommend waiting until it comes out on video.

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Two Blondes Go To A Movie: Choke

October 3, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.

JESSICA SAYS:
Here is what I knew about this movie going into it: It’s based on a novel by Chuck Palahniuk. That’s it. Sometimes that’s a really nice way to go into a movie (or book for that matter) because it prevents the sentiment that my mother utters after every single movie when you ask her what she thought–“Well, it wasn’t what I expected.” I have read Fight Club, which is also by Palahniuk, but haven’t read Choke. So, I expected it to be dark and twisty, with a little social commentary added in for good measure. To borrow from Mom, “It wasn’t (totally) what I expected.” It was dark and twisty, but I missed the social commentary. Side note: anytime I quote my mother, be sure to read it with a pretty strong Midwestern accent (specifically Saint Louis).

A quick plot summary–Sam Rockwell plays a recovering sex addict, Victor Mancini, who works at a colonial reenactment site. His mother, played by Angelica Houston, is a patient in a mental hospital who no longer recognizes her son. Victor begins to fall for his mother’s doctor, played by Kelly MacDonald, as he sets out to find out who his father is.

Kudos to the casting director of this film. I don’t think there is another actor out there that plays sleazy, but likeable as well as Sam Rockwell. I’m kind of in love with Anjelica Huston now. As I left the movie, it dawned on me that I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of her movies before. I am in the process of adding her films to my Blockbuster queue right now. This film was filled with scenes that turned on long, silent close-ups of her face as she processed emotion and information. I was in awe. Plus, I got kind of mesmerized by her looks–she’s attractive, but not in a traditional sense and I could never quite put my finger on what made her striking. It’s like the individual parts are kind of odd, but the sum of the parts works. Last but not least, I was so pleased to see Joel Grey, star of Broadway and father of Baby Houseman (a.k.a. Jennifer Grey–“Dirty Dancing”). He’s such an odd little man and he worked that beautifully as one of the recovering sex addicts in therapy with Victor.

Have you ever seen a movie and thought, I bet this is a really good book? That’s how I felt with “Choke.” That’s not to say I didn’t think the movie was good; I did. I just felt like the book probably said things the movie didn’t even attempt to (the missing social commentary I referenced at the beginning of this). I laughed out loud several times, which is how I judge how funny something is. Even better, it was pretty moving, too.

Just a warning: I was unprepared for how much sex there was in this movie. After reading this, you will already be aware it’s about a sex addict. I was not. All the sex scenes felt appropriate and were relevant to the plot, just…you know…this isn’t one for the kids.

This is worth seeing for the full Friday night price. Just don’t see it with anyone whom you might be uncomfortable watching people do the ‘around the world.’

ALISON SAYS:

Who knew broken, depressed sex addicts could be so funny? I sure didn’t until I saw this movie. I have never read any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books, though after reading some of his info on Wikipedia, I’ve just added some of his work to my library account (yes, I have a library card and actually use it). Here’s a few choice pieces:

When Palahniuk “attempted to publish his next novel, Invisible Monsters, publishers rejected it for being too disturbing. This led him to work on his most famous novel, Fight Club, which he wrote as an attempt to disturb the publisher even more for rejecting him.”

“Palahniuk would also become a member of the rebellious Cacophony Society* in his adulthood. He is a regular participant in their events, including the annual Santa Rampage (a public Christmas party involving pranks and drunkenness) in Portland. His participation in the Society inspired some of the events in his writings, both fictional and non-fictional. Most notably, he used the Cacophony Society as the basis for Project Mayhem in Fight Club.”

“Choke” is the latest film adaptation of Palahniuk’s work, and it’s definitely worth seeing. It has a stellar cast, all talented and all funny. There’s a depressing realism to the misery that is their lives, but you still love being along for the ride and keep hoping they’ll find some semblance of happiness. Sam Rockwell dazzles as a guy you sort of want to hate, but can’t help being charmed by. I can’t believe I just wrote “dazzles.” Brad William Henke masterfully portrays the sweetest, most cuddly chronic masturbator you’ll ever meet. Clark Gregg should be proud of himself for his directorial debut with this film, not to mention his hilarious performance as Lord High Charlie and the fact that he wrote the screenplay.

LA Viewers: Worth paying full price at The Grove or Sunset 5.

Translation for non-LA natives: It is worth paying money to see this movie in the theaters. It will make you laugh and you get to see boobs (if you’re into that).

Sidenote: This is not the movie to bring your small children or your mom to. Or to bring anyone who might be weirded out by somewhat explicit sex scenes.
*Jessica has no idea what the Cacophony Society actually does, but you had her at “pranks and drunkenness.”