I've had a chance to watch a few movies over the last week or so (oh, how I love summer vacation...)
Stranger Than Fiction - Emma Thompson plays an author with writer's block. Will Ferrell plays the man who turns out to be the real-life incarnation of the main character she's trying to kill. Great cast, with Dustin Hoffmann, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Queen Latifah playing some of the minor roles. It's a little off-beat, but it has a nice message about how Ferrell's character decides to finally live his life, when he discovers he's supposed to die according to the novel that stars him. It's also a neat little commentary on how authors really can bring their characters to life...and as an author, that was kind of cool to see. My husband turned to me when it was done and said, "Well, there you go!" B+
The Painted Veil - Deeply moving, beautifully filmed love story starring Naomi Watts and Ed Norton (who also both produced the movie). It's a Greta Garbo remake, based on one of Somerset Maugham's stories and set in 1925. Two young Americans marry in haste and move to China, where he's a bacteriologist for the government. She's a spoiled young wife who's bored and has an affair almost immediately. When he finds out, however (in a terrific scene that's loaded with tips on how to show the multiple sides of a character), he tells her he'll divorce for adultery unless she ends the affair and goes with him to a small town thousands of miles away, where he has been called to deal with a cholera epidemic. With no choice, she goes with him...and the rest of the movie is the story of how they deal with the affair and, eventually, fall in love again. Beware: this does not have a traditional happy ending, but it's a great story, terrifically acted, and it was filmed in China, so the scenery is gorgeous. A
Little Miss Sunshine - This is the wacky movie that came out recently starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Steve Carrell, Paul Dano, and Alan Arkin. They're all lumped together in a VW bus driving across 4 states to get young Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in CA. What a group of misfits! And yet that's the whole point, how they're such a dysfunctional family and yet they pull together and know what's important, especially when they get to the pageant and see nothing but falsities everywhere around them. There are both hilarious and touching moments in this movie; it was a good one A-
The Bourne Ultimatum - Saw this latest Matt Damon thriller in the theaters last Friday and liked it just as much as the first 2 Bourne movies. Again, there's great action and suspense, good acting, and enough fights and car chases to keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Some really great plot twists that are delivered well, too. A-
Half Nelson - This was an independent film that never made it to most theaters, I believe. It stars Ryan Gosling (I think he's a terrifically talented author) as a quirky but talented middle school teacher/basketball coach who also has a serious drug problem. One day, a student finds him smoking crack in the girls' locker room, and from that moment the two develop a bond that's both painful and touching. He wants to protect her from that life, even as he's living it, and she wants to both look up to him and take care of him. It's a complex situation and one that's frustrating and painful to watch at times. However, the ending does show us the redemptive power of human companionship along with the message that often people find it in the places they least expect. It's not a particularly pretty movie, but it's well-done. B
So that's my Sunday morning movie review. Have you seen any movies lately that you loved (or hated)??