Tuesday, January 31, 2006

As a break from quilting, I'll try my hand as a movie critic. I have been enjoying DVD's since I'm alone this week. Have seen Wedding Crashers, Cinderella Man, June Bug, and Downfall.
Acually, I only watched about 20 -30 minutes of Wedding Crashers. I've heard it described as crude but funny. I don't find nudity and mild sex scenes shockingly crude, but I didn't find it funny either. I guess I'm too old for movies about immature men trying to find themselves.

Cinderella Man is a good film, although it could be summed up as Seabiscuit in boxing gloves. Terrible title, too; it gives away the plot and theme. That said, it's an upbeat story of a come back boxer struggling to support his family during the Great Depression, with fine performance by Russell Crowe, who looks surprisingly different after losing weight and darkening his hair. The fairly brutal boxing scenes might bother some, but for me they kept this movie from being a little too sweet. I also liked the look of the film, darkened almost sepia colors to add to the 30's look.

June Bug tells the story of a Chicago art gallery owner who uses a visit to an outsider artist in rural North Carolina as the opportunity to visit her new in laws. This is a very realistic picture of differing backgrounds and family dynamics. There's not much plot, or much resolution, but terrific acting, and the most believable characters in any film I've seen for ages. One of my favorite scenes is when the gallery owner gives a silver baby spoon as a shower gift for her new sister-in-law's baby shower. The way the other women manage to convey that they find it a ridiculously inappropriate gift while at the same time praising it sincerely is a marvel of acting.

Finally, Downfall. This is a German film about the last days of Hitler, mostly what happens inside his bunker as the Russians move into Berlin. I remember that this was controversial last year because some thought it made Hitler too sympathetic. I can't see that at all. Although we don't see Hitler actually causing the death of millions, he refers proudly to the destruction of the Jews, and he is clearly portrayed as a madman who last mad, evil act is to cause even more unnecessary death and suffering for the defeated German people because he refuses to surrender. He feels that Germans have shown themselves weak by being defeated and so deserve death. In spite of the grim subject, this is not a horrifying film; it's fairly understated, showing most violence in an indirect almost old-fashioned way. Fascinating and excellent.

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