Recap: 25 January 2009

Where did January go? I’m barely able to comprehend that it’s 2009, let alone almost February 2009. Sheesh.

What I Watched

  • Revolutionary Road (3½ stars): Any movie that makes you think is probably worth seeing, and this one certainly falls into that category. That being said, I didn’t think this film was as effectively put together as, say, American Beauty (also directed by Sam Mendes). That being said, I’m astounded that it got Oscar-snubbed and am suspicious that perhaps they got The Reader and Revolutionary Road mixed up.
  • Inkheart (3 stars): This one just barely eked out a third star. The more of them I see, the more I believe that epic fantasies need to be at least two hours long*, and this one falls 14 minutes short. My reasoning here is that it’s integral to give your audience both a footing in the fantasy world and an understanding of the characters (who they are, what they want, why they’re doing things the way they are). And that’s where Inkheart falls short. It becomes a movie where you witness a bunch of events without ever really connecting with any of the characters. It has some strong elements: Paul Bettany as Dustfinger is especially great, and his banter with Farid (who fell out of Arabian Nights) is amusing. Still, as one of my most anticipated movies of 2009, I was pretty disappointed.
  • Like Water for Chocolate (3½ stars): This wasn’t quite as good as I wanted it to be, but it was still solid. It tells the story of a woman who is forbidden to marry her true love because it is family tradition for the youngest daughter to care for the mother until her death. This particular woman finds that she can transfer emotions into the food she cooks. I was hoping for a bit more overt magic or at least whimsy, à la Chocolat, to be honest, but it was still a romantic and moving little story worth seeing.
  • Holiday (4 stars): While I wouldn’t call this 1938 film “heavy” by any means, the Katharine Hepburn-Cary Grant rom-com certainly carried a little more weight than I was expecting. In some ways, it tackled some of the same themes as Revolutionary Road but with a lighter, more hopeful touch. I’d put it in the rare category of classic films that hold up over the years.

What I Read

Well, I finished Eclipse (the third book in the Twilight series). I hate Bella now more than ever. I hate Jacob. I’m annoyed by Edward. Everyone else is kind of a non-issue, since Aro (very sadly) wasn’t in the third book. He is literally the only character I like, and, admittedly, I absolutely adore him. I will say this: I suppose it’s better to have a reaction to a character (even if it’s an extremely negative one toward the ones who are supposed to be protagonists) than to have no reaction at all. Right?

What I Wrote

Remember how my goal was to hit 25 pages in EARNEST? Well, I did. And then I promptly deleted 23 pages and started over. It occurred to me that I was having to try way too hard to make the setting work, so I adjusted it, and now it’s working much better. I’m back up to 13 pages total, and I might even try to scrounge up a couple more before the night’s done. Either way, I’m pleased despite the drop in page count. Sadly, I have made zero progress on Fairytale Redux this week.

Quick Oscar Thoughts

I’m going to do a more thorough post on this pre-ceremony, but I was more or less unsurprised by the nominations. I was happy that Frost/Nixon got a best pic nod, but The Reader? There are some films that get Oscar buzz that I don’t like but can at least understand (I’m looking at you, There Will Be Blood). The Reader is not one of them. I also think Michael Sheen deserved a best actor nod far and above over Brad Pitt (who was perfectly fine in Benjamin Button, but didn’t exactly have to really do much beyond the expected).

Also, the nominations have confirmed my status as a movie junkie. Excepting documentaries, foreign films, and shorts, I’ve seen or will see everything except Milk, Rachel Getting Married, Frozen River, Happy-Go-Lucky, and Defiance before the ceremony on Feb. 22. And you know what? I’m OK with that.

* What I consider the best epic fantasy films of the past five-ish years have all come in at two-plus hours: Stardust (2 hours, 7 minutes); Prince Caspian (2 hours, 30 minutes); and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2 hours, 23 minutes). Another epic fantasy novel adaptation with great potential that turned out pretty dismally, Eragon, clocked in at just 1 hour, 44 minutes.

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