If there's any good thing about the flu it's that I had a chance to sit and watch several movies I had been wanting to see for a while. I didn't feel like doing much else, that's for sure. I went to Publix yesterday and was worn out by the time I got home. Got the perishables in the fridge and then just had to rest.
I am thinking next year I will get a flu shot. I used to get them and I got the flu anyway, sometimes, so I wasn't too impressed with their effectiveness, but after this bout of flu, I am thinking maybe the shot would be better..
Life has been very very quiet recently. So there's not much to report.
So here are some mini movie reviews, or at least my thoughts on some movies that are available to watch on DVD. I decided to give each film a letter grade, only because that's a quick way to get an idea of what I think. Part of my judgment is whether or not I ever want to see a movie again.
I really like movies based on true stories so this seemed like a good one to see.
This is the blurb from IMDB: "Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must battle for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sues her for libel."
I didn't realize until I started watching the movie that the main character, a college professor named Deborah Lipstadt, is a real person and she teaches at Emory University, which is about 20 minutes down the road from my house. They filmed some of the movie there. I was pleased to read this article which talks about the fact that Atlanta is now the third most popular place to film movies and there are lots of films being shot right on the Emory campus. [I didn't attend Emory but my best friend did, and I visited her several times, and then in later years took some non-credit courses on campus.]
English actress Rachel Weisz was playing Liptadt. She was excellent, as always, and really deserved an Oscar nod. She didn't "cry or die" in the film, and was overlooked even for a nomination, which is a shame. [There were several actors in the film nominated for BAFTA awards, the British Oscars, but Weisz wasn't one of them.] Actors who play non-flamboyant characters are just as deserving of recognition -- maybe more so because it's harder to play everything just with your face and body than by shouting/crying throwing yourself around. Weisz is an under-rated actor but very skilled and I want to see her in more things.
The story of Denial is about a man named David Irving who is an anti-Semite and Neo Nazi and in my view just plain crazy. I had never thought much about the kind of crazy person who would deny the Holocaust but (horrifyingly) there are a lot of folks out there who think Hitler was not such a bad guy. Irving said in a recent article that folks who agree with him are growing in number. [ISIS is winning new recruits every day, too, but I wouldn't call that a good thing..]
If you like a true story and you like a good courtroom thriller, check out Denial. It also is a fairly good source of information for Americans about how the British legal system works. I had always thought since our system was based on theirs they were really similar, but it turns out there are some crucial differences that go far beyond wearing wigs in court.
I give this a solid A; not sure if I want to see it again but I might.
Another film based on a true story, and it totally deserved the Oscar nods. It was nominated for 6 Oscars and there were two wins, but not for Mel Gibson or Andrew Garfield, unfortunately.
The blurb: "WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot."
Mel Gibson is the director [and he was nominated for an Oscar, deservedly so] but he didn't act in this one. I've long been disturbed by reports of his past behavior but apparently he has cleaned up his act. He said on a talk show he has been sober now for ten years.
One thing Gibson really tries to do in his films, albeit with mixed results in terms of historical accuracy, is to illustrate history in an interesting way. Braveheart and The Patriot were filled with inaccuracies that have made historians apoplectic, but in their defense, those films have also entertained and informed younger folks and gotten them interested in history. Younger generations are very visual -- they want to see film, and stuff exploding, and flying body parts and blood. Hacksaw Ridge, like his other efforts, has those elements. Most 20-somethings don't want to sit in a library reading dusty tomes. I am cautiously in favor of teaching them any way they want to learn, because history doesn't have to be dry and boring.
It also stars another English person in the starring role playing an American, in this case actor Andrew Garfield. I have to admit, I'd never seen him in anything and I wasn't expecting him to do that great a job just based on my knowledge of the only other role of his that got wide acclaim, Spiderman. Garfield nailed this role, however. His father (in real life) is American, so perhaps that helped. His performance is terrific. His eyes are very expressive, and even his southern accent sounds excellent.
I did some reading about the real-life hero this movie is about, Desmond Doss. He was an amazing person. I had never heard of him before.
That's one reason I love movies like Denial and Hacksaw Ridge -- they are great learning experiences.
My only big quarrel with this film is the amount of blood and gore and flying body parts. They must have used truckloads of fake blood. It makes Deadpool's level of violence look restrained.
I give it an A- because I'm not sure I ever want to see it again, just because of the gory aspects of it.
I didn't love this film, but I liked it. It's original and fresh, and never boring, and those are qualities I greatly admire in a film.
It's mainly about what it's like to live in a small town in Australia, but the themes are universal. It could have been a small town anywhere.
The blurb: "A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong."
Kate Winslet is excellent in the film. It's another leading role where the performance is really not showy but it's more restrained and she should have won an Oscar for it. Her character is unique in that you can't always tell exactly what she's thinking, and with everyone else in the film it's fairly obvious.
Judy Davis plays her mother in the film. Davis is one of my favorite actors, and always brilliant. She doesn't get cast in big movies much any more, which is such a shame. Her role has a lot of surprises in it, too.
The strength of this movie is that the story is fresh and I give it an A- -- only a minus because it's not a movie I particularly want to see again. The ending is unexpected but not happy..
I liked this film and it was worth watching, but generally I am not keen on movies set in outer space. What makes this one a bit different is that it's more of a character study than an action movie. It also illustrated a premise I have long found fascinating: what will life be like in the future?
The blurb: "A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers are awakened 90 years early."
I'm rather sick and tired of seeing Jennifer Lawrence in every other movie released nowadays. I have to admit she's a good actress though. She didn't carry this film, however; I don't care what she was paid for it. Any number of other actresses could have done as good a job or better. I really hope Lawrence doesn't get too big for her britches and start phoning in her performances, which happens to some hot young actresses.
After seeing actor Chris Pratt in Passengers I have to give him a lot of respect. He's got a lot of talent as an actor. I liked Guardians of the Galaxy -- a fresh spin on the typical Star Wars knockoff flicks -- but I don't think it showcased his talent all that well. Passengers really does that. He gives a nuanced performance that is very convincing.
If I were grading this film I'd give it a B- -- interesting story, uneven performances.
Here's the trailer for Hacksaw Ridge. If you're only going to see one of these films, see it.