March 8, 2010

Vacation In Reviews

I was right, way too busy on vacation to post anything, but as usual, I enjoyed my time with Meg immensely. And while I didn't have a ton of time for movies or TV while she was here, I did watch a couple of things.

Life Unexpected - A misunderstanding leads to Ryan finding out Cate and Baze slept together. If you didn't see that coming from the fucking get-go, you've never watched television before in your life.

So Ryan dumps Cate in a fight scene so great I had to watch it twice. Seriously, Kerr Smith rocked the hell out of Ryan's indignation and Shiri Appleby totally held her own. Cate is then far too involved in her own depression to talk to Lux rationally about Lux's request that Cate become Tash's foster mom to keep her from going to live with a foster family 3 hours away.

Mucho kudos to the casting director, by the way, because the woman they cast as Tash's bio-mom could not have looked more like her. If you told me that is the actress's real mom, I would TOTALLY believe you.

Anyway, Lux gets pissed at Cate (again) and asks Baze to be Tash's foster dad. Baze is 92% of the way to cleaning up his life in the service of being a good dad anyway, so he just makes some tweaks to the loft to make it teenager-friendly and invites the DCFS lady over for a visit. She gives the go-ahead for Lux to live there but won't give him another foster kid while he still hasn't proven he can really cut it with his bio-kid.

In the end, Lux moves over to Baze's house, Cate wallows, and Baze and Lux have a truly lovely father/daughter moment.

Shutter Island - From the trailer's I'd seen back in the fall, I went into the movie with a very clear impression of what I thought it was about. Immediately upon seeing the opening scene, I was sure it wasn't about what I thought it was going to be about and 5 minutes in, I knew what the "twist" would be. As a matter of fact, I can tell you the exact line of dialogue that tipped me off - upon arriving on the island and taking in the sight of the institution, Teddy (Leonardo DiCaprio) tells Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) that they have electrified security, when Chuck asks Teddy how he knows Teddy replies that he's seen something like this before. And right then, I knew.

Which is not to say that it isn't a good movie. It's quite well directed, beautifully shot and wonderfully acted on all fronts. There comes a point well into the movie where I almost thought that I'd been wrong to assume what I did and that there would be no twist at all, that the movie was merely what it was. Just a few scenes later and I was back to my original hypothesis but I appreciated the ability of the movie to trick me, if only temporarily.

In an effort not to spoil anyone, I won't bother saying what the movie is about, it's spoiler-y enough, I think, that I confirmed a twist. But I would recommend the movie on the strength of the performances alone. The best part of the movie, for me, was the final 20 or so minutes. I particularly thought the final scenes between DiCaprio and Michelle Williams were amazing and that last scene between DiCaprio and Ruffalo brought a small lump to my throat.

The Hurt Locker - I finished watching this movie about 20 minutes before I started watching The Oscars last night, and with it so fresh in my mind, it was very easy to root for big wins for both the film and Catherine Bigelow.

I am not usually very interested in watching war movies. For one thing, I like my movie violence to be a little more ridiculous and nonsensical as opposed to realistic and disturbing. But occasionally I will watch them (Saving Private Ryan is on my personal list of best movies) and this was one of those times where I'd heard such good buzz about the film, I had to see for myself whether it was warranted.

The movie is every bit as good as I'd hoped it would be. Harsh and awful and unsettling in all of the ways that a movie about war should be. Following the final 6 weeks of Bravo Company's deployment in Iraq, and in particular Explosive Ordinance Division's Will James (Jeremy Renner), and his time with the unit after their previous bomb-defuser is killed by an IED, the film is about the effect the war has on Will and the effects Will has on the other men in his unit. Will is an anti-hero to be sure, and Renner is exceptional at playing the tenuousness of Will's grasp on his own sanity. While I agree that Renner is well deserved of all the accolades he's received for this performance, it seems a shame that his co-star Brian Geraghty wasn't nominated for his supporting role. He was outstanding as Specialist Owen Eldridge.

The bottom line on this movie, is that while I'm glad I didn't see it in the theater (there was a scene so unsettling that I had to pause it and walk away for a few minutes before I could continue watching), I thought it was excellent and would highly recommend it to anyone.

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