I wrote this last year but kept delaying posting it because I kept thinking I would watch Lincoln. Since I was starting to write one up for THIS year, I figured, what the heck, I’ll post it a year late.
So, because I work in Hollywood, I get screener DVDs sent to my house of some of the movies that are up for awards every year. (And if they don’t send DVDs, they often give me downloads or free movie tickets.) Here are my brief thoughts on a subset of this year’s free movies:
(mild spoilers for Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Hitchcock, Les Miserables, and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)
Silver Linings Playbook: Well-written, well-directed, well-acted, and their screw-up of the “big move” was one of the best-crafted actions in a movie scene I’ve seen in a long time. But I have a bone to pick with Silver Linings Playbook, which is . . . how did nobody tell me this was a ROMANCE??? I’m watching, and watching, and watching, and suddenly, BANG, in the last ten minutes, I realize the entire plot structure was a ROMANCE PLOT STRUCTURE! I thought it was a drama that was going to end unhappily with everyone miserable or dying, dammit. I felt very duped!
Argo: First half: Awesome. And I was rolling on the floor at the (all too true!) portrayal of Hollywood. Second half? Eh. Way too many exactly timed close calls that were Hollywoodized in just for the DRAMA of it. Plus, I didn’t think any of the hostage characters were very well-developed, which means I couldn’t bring myself to care as much as I wanted to about their eventual escape. I would have much preferred to see more antics of the producer and the SPX make-up artist. (Also: The whitewashing, of course, pissed me off. We’re at a time when Hispanic people are systemically being painted as non-patriotic, non-real Americans, and here was a golden opportunity to show a Latino as an American hero . . . not.)
Hitchcock: The cast was spectacular. The story of making Psycho was fascinating. Alas, if only they could have stuck to that story. The forays into Hitchcock’s strange daydreams/night dreams messed up the pacing and confused what would have been an excellent film otherwise. (Also: I want to marry Helen Mirren.)
Lincoln: Didn’t watch it at first because they didn’t send a DVD. Then they sent one and I . . . still didn’t. Sounded heavy, so we kept procrastinating on watching it. I’ve heard it’s narratively pretty problematic (i.e. racist), so I’m not too bothered. Maybe I’ll watch it eventually.
Les Miserables: . . . no comment. (We tried to watch it with copious amounts of alcohol; we really did. We started the fast-forwarding about five scenes in and still couldn’t even make it to the halfway point.)
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Expected it to be a bunch of awesome elderly British actors getting up to hijinks, and it was completely as advertised. I’m generally not a fan of the Exotic Location Teaches White People a Very Important Lesson stories, but I was too busy watching Judi Dench being adorable to worry about it much, and from what I can tell (not being Indian) they did have a diversity of reasonably well-developed Indian characters. (Also: I tend to like movies that don’t focus on young twenty-somethings.) Other thoughts: Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are both near eighty, what?, and I desperately wanted Penelope Wilton to whip out a badge and say, “Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister!” (Yes, we know who you are.)
The Impossible: After reading this review, I refused to watch it, even for free.