Posted by: Sally Ingraham | March 23, 2010

Movie Mayhem: March 1st-21st

Ah, movies. Lots of of good stuff so far this month!

The Road – John Hillcoat – USA – 2009
I watched this movie a few days after I finished reading the book . This could have led to a particularly nit-picky viewing, but to my own surprise I was able to keep my experiences of the story fairly separate. I felt that Hillcoat did about as well as he could have, considering. The movie seemed true to the book, minus a few unnecessary expansions of the story involving the boy’s mother, and a slight re-working of the ending that I didn’t appreciate AT ALL. I thought that visually it was well realized, and I liked that there was a fair amount of text taken straight out of the book. Overall decent, especially for being an exquisitely written book translated into the still somewhat awkward format of cinema. I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t impressed either.

the young victoriaThe Young Victoria – Jean-Marc Vallée – UK – 2009
I watched this movie three times while it was playing at the theater where I work! Hehe – it was so delicious! Lovely costumes, pretty people – stellar cast! I’m totally in love with Emily Blunt right now – need to see more of her. And I’m fascinated by Queen Victoria. Has anyone read a really good biography of her? And finally, I feel that a viewing of Mrs Brown is in order, to complete the picture!

A Single Man – Tom Ford – USA – 2009
Colin Firth delivers an astonishingly good performance in this lovely film about how a man lives with grief. It’s a raw story told with tender strength, and a great deal of artistry. I love what Ford did with the coloring of this film! Excellent stuff.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – Phil Lord and Chris Miller – USA – 2009
Every time I shelved this book while volunteering as a kid at my local library, I had to hid away in the stacks and read it real quick! I loved the illustrations. The movie was decent – funny and weird, but not quite as awesome as the book!

After the Sunset – Brett Retner – USA – 2004
Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, and Woody Harrelson make a very enjoyable cocktail, complete with umbrella. Ex-brilliant jewel thieves and a particularly determined FBI agent, stuck on an island paradise with nothing to do but match wits and soak up the sun…yummy. A comfy favorite of mine – not stunning film making, but an excellent way to escape a rainy March afternoon!

bruce campbellThe Evil Dead – Sam Raimi – USA – 1981
I was watching a lot of the TV show Burn Notice during February, which made me fall in love with Bruce Campbell – he’s so smoothly ironic in his role as the talented in his own right sidekick to a super spy. I had to see where Bruce started out – as the surprisingly helpless Ash (seriously, he spends half the movie just standing around watching as his friends battle the EVIL DEAD!) in the best campy horror film ever made. At least in my so far limited experience. I laughed way too much, considering it was “horror”, which I’m pretty sure was part of the idea. Impressive in it’s creative use of limited resources, and undeniably interesting camera techniques. Yeah, I’ll be continuing the journey – watch this space for The Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness mini reviews! 🙂

Iron Man – Jon Favreau – USA – 2008
Yup, that makes twice so far this year…!

Chocolat – Lasse Hallstrom – UK – 2000
This movie always makes me want chocolate – but not the kind you can buy in stores, since I know I won’t ever find “my favorite” as Vianne could make it! I love this fairy tale about what it means to be acceptable, and how to accept the extraordinary. Lovely movie.

this boy's lifeThis Boy’s Life – Michael Caton-Jones – USA – 1993
I was impressed with the faithfulness of this adaptation of Tobias Wolff’s autobiography of the same name. I was also impressed with Leonardo DiCaprio in his first starring role, much as I am reluctant to ever be impressed with him! 🙂 While every scene in the book didn’t make it to the movie, I felt like Caton-Jones had a good understanding of the text and was true to it in every instance. Even though I strive to keep literature and cinema separate in my mind, when they touch this closely I feel immensely satisfied.

Star Trek – J. J. Abrams – USA – 2009
Yeah. Yup, that’s twice for this one too…!! 🙂

When We Were Kings – Leon Gast – USA – 1996
Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, Richard! This was a great documentary about the epic boxing battle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. I loved how there was so much great music mixed into the telling of the pre-fight action. I was blown away by the footage of Ali and his astonishing way with words. I had seen a little before, but never to this extent. I was mesmerized and totally entertained every time he opened his mouth. The fight was pretty astonishing too. 🙂 I also really liked how Gast gave a three-dimensional view of the event, touching on all kinds people who were around the two boxers at the time, and giving some impressions of the state of things in Zaire during that year. Interesting stuff.

Romeo Must Die – Andrzej Bartkowiak – USA – 2000
Unfortunately this isn’t even an interesting movie from a martial arts point of view, which is what I hope to get at the very least out of a Jet Li flick. There’s some weirdly simplified racial tension, lots of betrayals, and a hip-hop score as two families battle for control of some waterfront properties. Silly, badly organized, and one of the blandest performances from Li that I’ve ever seen. Oh well.

8 1/28 1/2 – Federico Fellini – Italy – 1963
I was hoping that watching the film that the musical and unfortunate disaster of a movie Nine were based on wouldn’t just equal me being a sucker for punishment. I screamed in horror over Nine last time I did one of these posts, but with relief I can say that Fellini at least had a better idea about what he was doing! Although 8 1/2 seems somewhat haphazard in it’s telling, Fellini’s use of dream sequences that blend into reality is far more effective than the horrendous musical numbers that substituted them in Nine. And while Fellini’s semi-autobiographical character – the famous movie director caught between the pressures of work and the relationships that are falling apart around him – does objectify women to some extent, it’s presented in such a way that you know that he is equally aware of this failing in himself. There’s far less overt sexuality, and the women in the film are much realer, and far superior to the pretty paper dolls of Rob Marshall’s version. The black and white visuals surpassed the artificial glitz of Nine by a long shot too. I’ll stop comparing now! Taken by itself, I definitely recommend 8 1/2 on it’s own excellent merits. 🙂


  1. Whoa, sounds like you’re definitely out of your bad-movie rut! The only Victoria bio I’ve read is Lytton Strachey’s, and while it’s a total hoot I wouldn’t exactly call it unbiased. 🙂 (He was friends with Woolf – very invested in painting irreverent, hostile portraits of Victorians.) That film looks so beautiful, but I’m kind of weirded out about portraying her as this innocent girl whose love affair we should celebrate, when she was responsible for so much imperialist oppression & murder. Thoughts?

    • That’s definitely one of the reasons that I want to read a good bio of her, since I would like to think it’s fair to say at the point in her life that the movie touches on, she was pretty darn innocent. She had an epic reign in front of her, during which she did plenty of unfortunate things… I would say that the film definitely makes a point about how at the beginning of her reign she was really interested in social justice, but you couldn’t call the movie unbiased either – it’s 100% a celebration of a monarch that the makers of the movie admired. I watched it, and admired it, but I feel compelled to look into the matter further, since rulers of man cannot ever be completely innocent! Thanks for the tip – that bio certainly sounds entertaining! 🙂

  2. So Colin Firth is good in A Single Man, that’s great to hear. I haven’t read it yet, but Kate Williams has written a bio of Victoria called ‘Becoming Queen’ and her biography of Emma Hamilton was great, readable, fun and accurate.

    • Ooo, good to know – thanks for the tip on the Queen Victoria bio!

      Although I don’t put much emphasis on ye olde Academy Awards, and I understood the politics and legitimate talent behind Jeff Bridges’ win for Best Actor this year, I definitely think Colin Firth had the far superior role and acting chops in this particular case. Excellent work from him.

  3. Love Iron Man and Star Trek! Also loved After the Sunset, fun! Chocolat was a nice movie but interestingly I don’t want to read the book. Have you?

    Agree with you about Cloudy (love the book, the movie not so much) and agree with you about Romeo Must Die, hahaha. I have to watch every Jet Li flick that comes out though because my husband does.

    Not sure if I’m going to see The Road, unless hubby wants to. Afraid it might ruin the book for me, because it was so perfect. But now I am even more wanting to watch The Young Victoria!! Thanks for affirming its good qualities.

    Also, I haven’t heard of When We Were Kings but now I must find that movie for my husband, thanks! (And thanks to Richard.)

    I saw an interview with Tobias Wolff about Old School today and it was wonderful and now I want to read This Boy’s Life, too. (NOt sure about the movie, even though I love DiCaprio, yes.) 😀

    • I have almost picked up Chocolat the book several times at library book sales, but I keep hesitating. Weird. I wonder what that’s all about? 🙂

      Hehe, you’re in the same boat as me – I watch lots of movies because my boyfriend wants to watch them, although I’m usually up for almost anything!

      I don’t think a viewing of The Road would ruin the book for you, but in my opinion there’s no compelling reason to watch it unless you really want to. It’s a decent re-visioning, but not particularly inspired.

      Yay, glad you’re excited to read Old School! I can’t wait – shoot, all the way to October! 🙂

  4. […] smarting from the appallingly bad Nine, and having been only somewhat mollified by watching Federico Fellini’s original film 8 1/2, I found Fellini’s Roma (Italy, 1972) […]

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