Maynard posts his movie notes
Here’s what I saw over the holiday.
First, we have the Coen brothers‘ presentation of True Grit. The Coens are my favorite filmmakers. They aspire to remind us of our American and spiritual heritage. Their movies are entertaining and uplifting. My favorite Coen films are “Fargo”, “Raising Arizona”, “No Country for Old Men”, and “A Serious Man”. Those are, in my eyes, sublime. “True Grit” was merely excellent. Here are the thoughts of other reviewers.
Then there was The King’s Speech, a historical drama based upon the personal struggle of England’s King George VI, prior to ascending to the throne, to deal with a debilitating stutter. These were in the tense days before the Second World War, when the Empire desperately needed credible leadership; however the then-Duke of York was not ready for the task that fate had assigned to him. This film is very well done, and reviews are glowing. I enjoyed it a lot. The drama is overly manipulative, but this is done with such charm that it must be forgiven. It also calls up Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, which I find an especially powerful bit of music (it’s ironic to find this used in the context of conflict with Germany, considering that Beethoven was German). If anyone is interested, the best rendition (and I think this is the one used in the film) is Leonard Bernstein’s Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7. The specific track is #6: Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92: 2. Allegretto.
Peggy Noonan wrote some interesting comments about how “The King’s Speech” addressed our quest for adult leaders. See ” The Captain and the King“. Looking into the historicity of this drama, I discovered this Daily Beast post, which warns us: “… viewers should know of the very many glaring and egregious inaccuracies and tired old myths that this otherwise charming film unquestioningly regurgitates.” I’m unsure about the historical details, but filmmakers would generally prefer to tell a good story rather than an accurate one. I do appreciate movies for bringing a framework of history to the public. But you shouldn’t necessarily come out of a movie like this assuming it’s all true.
Moving along…Sofia Coppela describes her film Somewhere as “a Los Angeles tone poem”. It’s a look at a (fictional) celebrity actor caught up in the excessive Hollywood lifestyle. He is struggling with a growing realization that, somewhere along the shining path to celebrity status, he has misplaced his soul.
“Somewhere” is a fundamentally atmospheric work, without moralizing or neat lessons. I found it compelling, but it’s for a targeted audience, and most people would probably go away unsatisfied. Reviews.
I was obligated to see the updated Tron Legacy. As I’m sure you’re all aware, the Love Story book and movie were based on the life of Al Gore (before he invented the Internet). Well, the original Tron movie was likewise based upon my own life. Except that I wasn’t transposed onto The Grid, and the bad guy ended up with the company and the money, not to mention the girl. So of course I had to check out how Hollywood has massacred the continuation of my adventures. And I didn’t much like what I saw. Some nice effects, but the story did not make sense, nor was it particularly involving. Once again, an obvious ripoff of my own life. Reviews
In Tuesdays 3rd hour, Tammy briefly mentioned the movie Caligula. For the record, this is the most vile, disgusting film ever made. I saw it long ago because I thought it was a “real” film. This was an understandable mistake, because it seemed to have real talent behind it. Boy, was I wrong. Caligula was nothing more than the sick, puerile, sadistic fantasies of Bob Guccione (of Penthouse fame). If you want to see an intriguing dramatic take on the Roman Emperor Caligula, dig up the BBC mini-series, “I, Claudius”.
Tammy also spoke highly of Black Swan, and critics agree. Tammy was particularly overwhelmed by the performance of Natalie Portman. Lamentably, Maynard disagrees with Tammy and the critics. I found this film far too heavy-handed to be dramatically interesting. And Natalie Portman’s role didn’t allow for the sort of subtle nuances that would make an Oscar-winning performance achievable. Director Darren Aronofsky has been on my radar as having interesting ideas, but I can’t say his films have paid off for me. But I’ll continue to keep an eye on him.