Good and bad

In my opinion, of course.  Today was Kate’s Birthday (Observed), which meant having lunch at the Chinese place at Hilldale and seeing two movies at Sundance.  Hooray!  Sort of.  First, the Chinese place was packed and I worried we wouldn’t get a table and then I ordered wrong: broccoli in garlic sauce.  Not bad, just a million pounds of broccoli (and only broccoli)  in a really light sauce.  Just a lot of something that was just ok. 

On we moved to the movies.  First movie of the afternoon was Crazy Heart.  If Jeff Bridges does not win the Oscar for Best Actor and that Crazy Heart song by T Bone Burnett does not win Best Original Song, I will be very, very, very upset.  But not surprised.  Because sometimes the Oscars just get it wrong.  Crash anyone?  Forrest Gump?  Need I go on?  I suspect not.  In a nutshell, I really liked this movie.  I dare say, I loved it.  I think it could have been edited down a bit more, but the story was grand, the acting superb (Colin Farrell was so impressive as a country crooner, I kept thinking, “I can’t believe that’s Colin Farrell,” which is maybe a bad thing, but not really; and Maggie Gyllenhaal was much less annoying than usual and at times quite believable), the music awesome and it just had that x factor, which often means the presence of Robert Duvall.  To be completely honest, I think I had higher hopes for this movie than it actually delivered, but it came close, which is saying a lot since I was really excited to see it.  One of the few things I didn’t like was Maggie Gyllenhaal’s turquoise earrings.  Yes, I get it: she lives in Santa Fe.  I’m sure someone thought it would be a nice, possibly authentic touch, but it distracted me and everytime she had them on I thought, “Yes, costume person, I understand that she lives in New Mexico” and then I would think about whether I was annoying for being annoyed.  A bit too obvious for me.

Now for the bad news.  And I know some of my readers are not going to like me very much for this and I have been sitting here trying to figure out the best way to put this.  A Single Man.  Hmm.  Well, where to begin?  How about here: I did not hate it.  But I didn’t like it.  At all.  I thought it was a cinematic piece of art that was almost completely hollow.  I had been told that it was “depressing,” which I suspected it would be from the entirely vague preview.  But I actually didn’t find it depressing, which is probably saying something bad about me, but it’s true.  I just didn’t care.  I didn’t care about Colin Firth.  I didn’t care about Julianne Moore.  I didn’t care about the college kid.  Or Carlos.  Or Susan (and why was Ginnifer Goodwin in this role?  It was all of about five lines).  The only thing I really cared about was the stunning mid-century furniture and architecture.  And that didn’t seem to be in any real danger or emotional strife, so I didn’t worry about it.  Sometimes I see a depressing movie and get really sad, not necessarily because I care about the people, but because the level of dysfunction is so high that it makes me uncomfortable, anxious and extremely sad.  But here, the subject was depressing — a guy really misses his true love — but I just didn’t care.  I mean, I was sympathetic.  Wow, that’s awful and sad to lose the person you love.  And moving on…I don’t want to watch him for 100 minutes do things like take the bread out of his freezer, clean out his safety deposit box and smoke cigarettes.  Call me callous, but it’s not interesting to me.  And beautiful cinematography can only take a movie so far.  You have to have a story, something to latch onto, something to care about.  And I just didn’t.  And actually, that cinematography?  It was a little much.  The clothes were great, the house stunning, but enough already.  This was a movie that was so clearly made by someone who is obsessed with aesthetics that he forgot how to edit (something a fashion designer actually should be aware of after watching even one episode of Project Runway) and certainly did not care about telling a good story.  I really just did not like it.  I found it to be a pretty big bore.  Pretty (at times), overdone, and dull.

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21 Responses to “Good and bad”


  1. 1 Kristin February 1, 2010 at 10:43 am

    That’s sad. I was really looking forward to that one. And had heard some good things. I’ll rent it when it’s out and check back with you, but that was a pretty scathing review, Kate. So I don’t know, now I’m even more curious. 🙂 Crazy Heart – must see. Maybe it will help me forget about The Wrestler.

    Sam and I made the mistake of going to see When in Rome yesterday. I thought it would be kind of cute! It was, in a word, retarded. But Kristen Bell is very adorable, and I have a bit of a new appreciation for Josh Duhamel. It wasn’t their fault, really. They were trying. Sort of. Anyway, super, supremely horrendously dumb. But it was either that or Avatar and I refuse. I just can’t.

    Glad you had a lovely birthday!

  2. 2 gracieandkate February 1, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I know. I feel bad. I know people LOVE it, I just didn’t. I really didn’t hate it, I just didn’t like it. I thought it was just really toooooo much. But maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you’ll love it like Keyes and my aunt Missy did.

    That’s sad about When in Rome. Not that it looked like it’d be great or anything, but I thought it could manage to be a cute little rom com with that adorable firecracker Kristen Bell. She is so cute. Disappointing.

    And I am with you on Avatar. Hells to the no.

  3. 3 gracieandkate February 1, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Also, how am I 35 years old and did not know that it is spelled “refrigerator” but yet it is “fridge” for short? I knew it was “fridge,” so I always thought there was a “d” in refrigerator, like “refridgerator. Where does the “d” come from? This is outrageous and embarrassing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refrigerator

  4. 4 Kristin February 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I know. I noticed that but I didn’t say anything because I thought maybe you knew something I didn’t. I don’t know why the “d” in fridge. Maybe someone thought frige looked weird?

  5. 5 gracieandkate February 1, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I tried to change it in a post, but I probably missed some. This is truly something someone with a higher pay grade is going to hear about!

  6. 6 Sarayu February 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Hooray for observed birthday!!! Boo, for just broccoli. Though broccoli is of course delicious, it does not a birthday meal make.

    I really cannot wait to see Crazy Heart. I don’t even know how I’ve waited this long. As for A Single Man, I haven’t heard many good things at all. I’m not surprised you didn’t like it, after hearing about the movie. Editing like that just makes me nuts. It feels so self-indulgent. I would not care to see 100 minutes of Colin Firth cleaning and smoking either. I like story. I like to see characters interact, and then I like to see what happens as those two things continue. It’s too bad because I really adore Colin Firth. Oh well.
    It’s so funny, too, that you bring up Ginnifer Goodwin because that’s what’s so annoying about Hollywood now. Sp many parts which could go to no-name actors, and frankly should go to them for reasons like what you just pointed out, are now going to “A-listers” and names. It looks silly and really just takes the audience out of the movie. And really, what did that do for her
    career?

    Don’t bother with Avatar. You’re both brilliant for skipping that one. I had to see it because my friend Dileep is in it, but I was less than enthused. I know everyone was blown away by that one, but I was just not. It’s fine. That’s about it for me. Fine.

    I thought you knew something I didn’t know too. I pretty much always operated under that assumption. Hee hee.

  7. 7 Sarayu February 1, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    “So” many parts. Obviously, not “sp.”

  8. 8 gracieandkate February 1, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    You know, I just noticed a couple of days ago that Dileep was in it, which is something you must have told me but I completely spaced on. Not surprising since I don’t even know how to spell refridgerator. Oh my God. I did it again. Refrigerator.

  9. 9 Sarayu February 2, 2010 at 2:23 am

    Hahahaha- I think I told you, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised. There has been a lot of chaos in your life and the beginning o January was no picnic for me, and the holidays- fogeddaboudit. Yes, Dileep is quite the star. Drag Me to Hell, Avatar and then Chris Nolan’s new movie (don’t know what it’s called). He’s got a very nice life going, very nice.

  10. 10 Sarayu February 2, 2010 at 2:25 am

    Dileep randomly texted me this one time- “You can spell extraordinary without Rao.” Please note, his last name is also Rao. Pretty funny, that guy.

  11. 11 gracieandkate February 2, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I’m pretty sure you meant “you can’t spell,” which isn’t a big deal but my brain is slow this morning so I had to read the sentence 5 times thinking, “Now why would you say something like that to my little Rao?” I didn’t know that was his last name until the same time I discovered he was in Avatar.

    And what is with this 10 movies being nominated for best picture? Dumbest idea ever. And why didn’t anyone tell me? It’s like “refrigerator” all over again.

  12. 12 Kristin February 2, 2010 at 10:39 am

    You didn’t know about the 10 movies?? Ugh. I was fully expecting The Hangover to get a nod. Instead District 9 did. I think I would have rathered The Hangover.

  13. 13 Sarayu February 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Oh, I was not into District 9 at all. I know everyone thought it was so great, but it was just too gross for me, way too gross. I would’ve loved it if Hangover got nominated, but I guess it was crazy enough that it one BP at the GG’s.

    And yes, I did mean you “can’t” spell. I don’t know why I’m so impatient when I comment that I can’t even double check all my spelling errors. It’s a dreadful habit I’ve developed and I sincerely apologize. Almost every post I mis-type something and then there it is, just hanging out, for all to see. Mortifying.

    I will try to be more careful. I swear.

  14. 14 gracieandkate February 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Oh, stop. And no. Why did I not know about the 10 movies? I really don’t like it. And is the ceremony now going to be two-days long because they’ll have to show ten different movies? For crying out loud. Who’s idea was this? Kristin? Was it yours? Speak up, please.

  15. 15 Kristin February 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    As I told you earlier, when the Academy calls, I answer. And this year they asked me to think of a way to further bastardize the legitimacy of the Best Oscar Oscar. I came up with the 10 nominee Best Picture plan, and history is made. Sorry.

    Maybe next year they’ll call you.

  16. 16 Jane February 3, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Maybe the D comes from Frigidaire. I mean wasn’t Frigidaire at one time used for all refrigerators much like kleenex for all tissues?

  17. 17 gracieandkate February 3, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Ooo, I like that theory. A lot.

    And Krissy, you really did a number on the Oscars this year. Thanks, babe.

  18. 18 Keyes February 4, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Hmmmmm.

    Now I’m wondering if I might have had too much wine before I went to A Single Man.

    This is partly because I remember being moved to cry profusely in parts, and partly because I can’t recall many of the characters in your review.

    I certainly remember Colin (who I just liked so SO much in this, having never given him a thought before), and his neighbor Julianne M. I loved their relationship. And homes. And outfits. I remember the college kid, and I remember being annoyed with him (I couldn’t get myself to like him because I kept thinking he was trying-and failing in an annoying way-to be a prostitute), but then I gave him a break in the end because he was such perfect fantasy (the idea of a super cute person who just won’t take no for an answer coming into the life of your loved one deep in grief at JUST the right time). That’s what I liked about Colin and Julianne’s relationship too—it was good fantasy (the idea that something awful happens and someone seems so completely alone but then, wait a second! they’re not! One of their best friends lives right next door and she’s always home! So you don’t really have to worry about him, at least not in an overwhelming way).

    I (like you) did NOT find the movie depressing, and I didn’t even understand the reviews that said it was (in fact, I suspected those reviewers hadn’t really watched the whole thing—which, ok, is not exactly a good sign—but instead had read descriptions like the one I stumbled upon in a Dallas online paper that said “A Single Man: Man contemplates suicide after losing his lover.” Yeah. Very difficult to think that’s NOT going to be depressing). I actually thought the film did a great job of showing that life, which is pretty mundane at (lots of) times, goes on. Even when awful things have happened. And I found this idea reassuring. Some of it I even found comical. So often films romanticize death and grief in a way that I find obnoxious. I found Colin’s experience to be real. But I also liked that everything and everyone was too pretty to be too real (because, come on, if I want actual reality, I don’t go to the cinema!).

    I will say though that I had no expectations for this film. I hadn’t heard ANYthing about it. I happened to go by the theater, feel the urge to see something, and it was playing right then. And I was pleasantly surprised by it (I should add that last time I was in this scenario, I had the choice of Couples Retreat or The Chipmunks*). And I do tend to enjoy films more when I have no expectations, when I don’t know what I’m going to get until I’m getting it. I know this doesn’t exactly make me a movie reviewer’s dream…except I do like reading reviews AFTER I’ve seen films.

    *don’t worry! I chose to just go home.

    A friend of mine saw District 9 and I asked him how it was and he said “I really liked it! And you would have absolutely hated it.” Of course that induced a short-lived urge to see it, but if it’s gross than he’s right–I’m not into gross.

  19. 19 gracieandkate February 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Keyes, I think your review is outstanding. And it is strikingly similiar to what my aunt Missy wrote me about her liking it, as well. I don’t disagree with either of you and think your point that life is pretty mundane for the most part and that it goes on even after one of the worst things imaginable is a very significant point and one the film did pretty well to make. I guess I just found all of the filmwork kind of distracting from that point and there wasn’t enough other stuff going on to make me forget that I was watching a movie made by someone who was obsessed with making his movie. I don’t know. I’m not saying this very well. I just found it self-indulgent.

    That said, I have probably spent more time thinking about it after I saw it than I have spent thinking about Crazy Heart. Just this morning I found myself thinking about that scene in which Julianne Moore is putting on her eye makeup while on the phone with Colin. And then I thought about how we saw her alone, after they ended their conversation, staring at herself. And I wondered if that was the only scene in which we saw another character doing something without Colin Firth around (though there might be one with her, again, in her house getting ready for his arrival) and, if so, what meaning — if any — that had. So, I do think the movie gives us more to talk about than, say, a movie like Crazy Heart.

  20. 20 Keyes February 4, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I like the points you make, and now I’m thinking about scenes without Colin. Hmmm. I will need more time.

    I need to see Crazy Heart!

    Oh! And are you watching the new PR?

  21. 21 Kristin February 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Yes! We need to talk about PR!


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