I rented A Secret, but did not get a chance to watch it – though I still want to. Also, we sadly did not receive Synechdoche, New York, and I only realized that it was out on DVD this week by visiting IMDB for the other links. So, I’ll have to watch that one by “other” means, but not in time for this weekly review to be published.
The ones to avoid:
More detailed reviews after the break.
Rachel Getting Married – *PICK OF THE WEEK*
Previously reviewed HERE.
I love beautiful, joyful things. I rented this movie with the mindset that it would be a beautiful, joyful thing – full of life and wonder. It was just what I wanted, but it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, except that it was. Wait, what? Happy-Go-Lucky is about a plucky little English gal (who also happens to be an elementary school teacher… +1 in cuteness for that), who always tries to find the good in a situation and a reason to laugh. What threw me off was the lack of innocence that I had imagined the movie to revolve around. I thought it might be some type of fairy tale, but it’s not. Of course, this doesn’t take away a single thing, though; the fact that it IS based in reality, gives it a wonderful new meaning. The lead character is so full of life, that at times she can come across almost as annoying, but it’s always only because she cares. My motto for life has become “Why so serious?” and that is something this gal completely embodies. With an enormous heart, she hopes only to brighten the day of everyone she meets – so if you find her annoying, you might want to take another look at yourself and ask why. In fact, here is the lead actress accepting her Golden Globe this year. It’s one of my favorite speeches, because she’s so gosh darn adorable. If she doesn’t strike you as such… then the movie, itself, just might go over your head in that manner.
I can’t end this review without mentioning Eddie Marsan. His character is the complete antithesis to our female lead, and theirs really is the main plot of the story. By means of driving lessons, interspersed throughout the movie, these two characters interact, and it all culminates in a frightening, touching, and important conclusion at the end. Marsan’s performance is a key example of the reason that awards don’t matter – because he is absolutely fantastic. Also, on a final side-note: The DVD cover features an image of the lead character on a man’s back, however, the man whose face is on the cover, is not the man on whose back she rides in the movie. It’s an edited image for marketing purposes (the face actually belongs to a romantic interest), so that’s a bit silly. The movie inside is still beautiful, though ;-).
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Nazis, World War 2, Jews – how many times have you seen all of that in a movie? Seven bajillion? It’s an era that is STILL rife with good stories, though, and this is another one. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, is a very touching story. It centers around a Nazi officer’s family, specifically his son. The logline of the movie is about a German boy who befriends a Jewish boy as they talk through the fence of a Nazi-run concentration camp. The movie is about so much more than that, though, and at it’s heart – it’s about family. It is about a father and his son, a husband and wife, siblings… and it all just so happens to revolve delicately and powerfully around the ideas that this place and time afford: sacrifice, racism, etc.. The movie is not graphic (ala a Schindler’s List), but the ending is one of the most haunting I’ve ever seen, and that is simply because of it’s simplicity; I just wanted to warn you of that. Everything about this movie is top notch, and every actor is fantastic, however the young man who plays the little Jewish boy really amazed me. He was a child, but at the same time, he also brought a powerfully solemn nature to the character – a boy who has seen more in his little lifetime than most of us ever will.
Ech. Man, I tell ya – this is what a bad movie is all about. Characters that mean nothing to me, flashy editing and a score that are completely wrong for what this movie should have been, and a story that does nothing for us by it’s end. Alan Rickman is in this, too. I love that guy, but here even HE couldn’t keep my interest. The entire time I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be a slick caper, a family drama, a family comedy, a psychological study, or who knows what else! Case in point: the mother, played by Mary Steenburgen – another fine actor, is an average mom through most of the movie. She gives normal reactions, and it’s all fine and dandy until the last fifth of the movie where logic gets tossed out of the window and backed over a few times. This average mom is suddenly a partner to some very asinine plans that seem as if they belonged in a Guy Ritchie movie, with no human soul. That’d work fine in a criminal-world movie, but not at all here. It’s one of those movies that, after it was done, I just asked, “Why?”