Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Heavy Viewing

The extra long weekend allowed lots of time for movie watching. Here are my thoughts related to the five DVDs that we watched, none of which were light viewing. Though we thought we had chosen at least two films that were on the lighter side, we were wrong.

The Kite Runner- I always allow ample time between reading a book and seeing the movie adaptation, so I wasn't ready to see this movie when it came out in the theater. It was an excellent adaption and every bit is difficult to digest in film as it was on the page. The issues, including class, war, brutality, betrayal, courage, and hope, were managed truthfully. It's a tear jerker for sure but well worth seeing. The kite flying cinematography is a soft visual space amidst the hard truth this film portrays.

The Life Before Her Eyes- We mistakenly thought we were going from a hard film (The Kite Runner) to a less intense drama when we watched this film. NOT!! Featuring the beautiful Uma Thurmond, the film's premise was built around a school shooting. The issue is choices, and it was offered with a post-modern twist that took a good 15 minutes of head shaking and conversation to sort out at the end. I love a movie that keeps me thinking for a long time after and this one did, but beware: it centers on horrific tragedy.

Iron Jawed Angels- This is a must see for every woman. We owe so much to the women who secured our right to vote and this film reveals their courage, conviction, and perseverance. And it features Hilary Swank in another one of those thought provoking pieces she is wont to do. I feel like such a wimp in comparison to those who are compelled to pursue human rights and I'm glad to have films that remind me about standing tall and firm on such important issues.

The Visitor- Again we thought we were choosing something on a lighter note when we picked up this one. It features Richard Jenkins (who was in Six Feet Under) as Walter a university professor whose life is bland and plodding. Walter's zest for life is renewed by a young Syrian man and his Singalese girlfriend who have surreptiously rented Walter's apartment in NYC. Surprises both good and sad await the viewer. This film gently grabbed our hearts and then squeezed painfully.

The Savages- This piece fits into what seems to be an emerging sub-genre, i.e. films about adult children caring for an aging parent. We got it because I like Philip Seymour Hoffman who played Capote brilliantly. He was excellent in this film too as the elder brother and university professor. Laura Linney is also terrific as the younger sister. This is a tragi-comedy, so there are many laughable moments but with a cost when watching two adults flounder through life because of unskillful parenting when they were kids. Though it was a little slow moving, I'd give it a thumb up.

That was our weekend in film. We've swallowed a serious dose of heaviness and will be returning to romantic comedy for our December holiday season viewing.

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