A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Friday, October 6

Fall Movies: Part 1

After a rough start (the miserable melodrama Black Dahlia—one of my all-time favorite books, just slaughtered on the screen—the bland, pointless Hollywoodland, and All the King's Men, which I couldn't bring myself to see), the fall movie season finally started delivering with the funny and heartbreaking Last Kiss, and the admirably inventive, if ultimately disappointing, Science of Sleep. And now the adult movies are really starting to pour in...

What an odd subject for a movie: Queen Elizabeth (and the rest of the royals) and newly-elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (and the rest of his inside circle) reacting to the death of Princess Diana... or, more precisely, reacting to the reaction of the English people to Diana's death. But Stephen Frear's The Queen pulls it off in spades... this is a smart, thoroughly entertaining study of the tension among these incredibly insular worlds and one of the most public emotional outpourings of our lifetime. The script is bright and lively; Frear's frequent integration of archival footage is pitch-perfect and often quite moving; and, most of all, there are stellar performances across the board. Helen Mirren will almost certainly get an Oscar nod for her haughty, sad, clueless, courageous Elizabeth—and rightly so: this is a superbly nuanced performance—but she by no means walks away the picture.

Speaking of Best Actress nominations, Sherrybaby's Maggie Gyllenhaal will certainly get a lot of support for her outstanding turn as a junkie struggling to stay clean and, after three years in prison, earn the love and trust of her young daughter. There's not much to the story here—and what there is, is predictably depressing—but this movie's really about Gyllenhaal's dead-on portrait of a woman with zero social or emotional tools, who makes wildly inappropriate decisions not because she's stupid, or insensitive; but rather because she simply has no idea how to interact with the world. (Like Queen Elizabeth?)

Finally, DGlass and I both really admired the powerful coming-of-age film A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Dito Montiel's adaptation of his eponymous autobiographical novel. Set in 1985, in a dead-end section of Astoria, Queens—with numerous, well-executed jumps to the present—this is the story of a kid named Dito who wants nothing more than to escape the loud, loser mentality of his friends and family, but whose lack of personal courage and conviction doom him as surely as those around him are destroyed by their own brand of fear and desperation. Again, the performances here are terrific from top to bottom. And DGlass and I were particulary impressed by Montiel's technical creativity (jump cuts, sound mixing, clever camera work), and how it all enhanced the action, and emotion, on the screen. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what this rookie storyteller and director will do next.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

this film is so underated it makes me sad. there was not a minute of this film i did not relate to. sometimes forgeting i am even watching a movie it feels more like im with these kids at each move. the scipt is so true im amazed these kids are acting. the disruption of old friendships is no new concept,but these kids,who would kill or die for one another raises my spirit while at the same time razes my hope

12:34 PM, March 21, 2007


Post a Comment

<< Home