Posted by: Sally Ingraham | January 14, 2010

Movie Monday (thrice removed): Jan. 5th-14th

I do really want to write these posts on Mondays, but my trip threw me off. And there’s always some wiggle room with these things! Anyhoo…

Star Trek – J. J. Abrams – USA – 2009 (Movie of the week!)
I was really excited about this movie when it came out, and doubly so when it finally played at the theater I work at – and then, due to mysterious events that I can’t remember, I never got around to watching it! I did get my hands on the DVD the day after it was released, however, and I have since watched it numerous times. I have not yet ceased to be ridiculously pleased as each character is revealed in their younger reincarnation, and I am already anticipating favorite lines and whatnot. It’s a keeper. I like the movie for it’s snappy storytelling and for it’s creative re-mix of a familiar world. The lens flairs are also great. (If you’ve watched the special features, you’ll know what I’m talking about!)

Down by LawDown by Law – Jim Jarmusch – USA – 1986

I decided to put a whole bunch of Jim Jarmusch movies on my Netflix queue, for whatever reason late one night while aimlessly browsing. I wasn’t sorry this one arrived, even if it was a very odd jumble of fun music, black and white images, and surprising cast members. Tom Waits was, as always, strange and awesome, and John Lurie (whom I discovered through his TV show Fishing With John last year) was…also strange and awesome. Strangest of all was Roberto Benigni. His appearance in the movie was delightful, since he is utterly charming as always – I just never expected to see him there! The story of how these three men end up in a Louisiana prison together, and the journey that follows, was compelling and funny, and un-rushed. Interesting stuff.

Bright Star – Jane Campion – UK – 2009
One of my favorite things about Reel Pizza Cinerama is working the senior matinee in the winter. I always volunteer to do it, since the extra hours are never a bad thing, and I usually get to watch the movie too. This was our first show of the year, and the 35 or so folks who turned up for it seemed satisfied, if a little teary eyed. The movie was an imagining of what the romance between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne may have been like. The pretty visuals and the abundant use of lines of poetry, passionately spoken by the very capable Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, made it a very lovely movie, and all the more heartbreaking. I felt compelled to go the library when it was over and get a book of Keats’ poetry, which I have been dipping into all week. I had to scribble these lines from the movie down, since as a person who has struggled a bit with understanding how to read poetry, they were particularly apt:

Keats, speaking to Fanny after she asks how to ‘work out’ a poem – “A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving in a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore. It’s to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out. It is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery.

A Serious ManA Serious Man – Joel and Ethan Coen – USA – 2009
Initially I had no interest in watching this movie, even though I’ve seen most of Joel and Ethan Coen’s work, and liked a lot of it. While the trailer I saw was intriguing, I loathed it, finding the banging of a head against a wall throughout much more violent than the blood and guts that make frequent appearances in their movies. However, we played it at the Reel for a week, and on the last day I decided to watch it. A very mellow movie, in the end, that offers up an interesting take on the Book of Job. Larry Gopnik is a Midwestern professor, who has a simple little life with his lovely wife (complete with her 1967’s hairdo) and his charming (horrible) children. Of course, just as he’s about to get tenure and everything is going so nicely, things rapidly unravel in every possible direction. He seeks the advice of several rabbis, questioning God’s will and purpose. Darkly humorous events ensue. I definitely didn’t love this movie. The general idea that life simply sucks, whether you believe that there is a God directing things, or whether you believe there isn’t and it’s just all fate, is too sad to be really funny. However, in their usual manner, the Cohen brothers find ways to bring out the quirky and ironic in everyday life, and make a point about happiness being all about your perspective. I definitely didn’t hate the movie either!

Invictus – Clint Eastwood – USA – 2009
Although I love Morgan Freeman, and am increasingly impressed with Clint Eastwood, I was peeved that Matt Damon was playing a South African man in this movie, and based on that alone I didn’t feel compelled to watch it. With two huge names already attached to the project, I felt that a rising South African actor should have been cast in Damon’s role. And I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to pull off the accent, something that annoys me greatly! However, due to the senior matinee at the Reel, I went ahead and saw it today. I liked it well enough. It was suitably inspiring. Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela was quite amazing, and getting a look at the game of rugby was interesting to me. And okay, okay, Matt Damon was fine in the role, accent and all! A really decent movie all around – but nothing spectacular.

That’s my movie watching to date. Fun stuff, but it feels weird to have seen so many new films – all from 2009 except for the Jim Jarmusch one. I need to dig up some more obscure stuff in the coming weeks. 🙂


  1. I love Jim Jarmusch so much! And all his usual cast of charming delinquents.

    Funny story about Star Trek: David and I saw it on a plane, just after watching a bunch of “Lost” episodes and remarking how every single freaking character in that show has daddy issues. And then we see this Star Trek movie where yet MORE people have daddy issues. And we were like “is this a new fad, or something? is this the plotline of the year?” But then we recounted the story to our friend, who pointed out that JJ Abrams is responsible for both Lost & the latest Trek film…kind of a relief to have an explanation! 😉

  2. I just love Down by Law! Benigni’s character flipping through his pad is just genious! “If eyes could kill I would be dead now.” I need to rewatch it soon!

  3. Emily – I’ve never seen more than a glimpse of Lost, so I wouldn’t have picked up on the ‘Daddy Issues’ as a full blown fad! That’s pretty funny.

    Eva – I ADORE Benigni in this movie. I’ve seen some of his other stuff, and it’s pretty good, but in this he really is a stroke of genius.

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