Sunday, December 30, 2012
Holiday Movies; The Good, the Bad and the Weird
I'm still up for "Jack Reacher" and the movie about turning 40 (which are still in town), but "Guilt Trip" didn't even reach the level of guilty pleasure, Quniton Tarantino's "Django Unchained" was a long wallow in the worst aspects of slavery (and our continuing guilt over it) and "Silver Linings Playbook" was the silver lining, a perfect delight.
I don't want to waste too much time on the bad ones, but speaking of waste: Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogan left with tepid lines throughout their hour and a half road trip as a Jewish mother and her coddled son was just too much. Nothing funny here from two fine comedians. Nothing. Barely a chuckle.
You've probably heard all you want to about "Django" and as with all Tarantono movies, you're either for him or again' him. I've never cared for his over the top violence--which becomes comic after a while, something we should never do with extreme violence of the head exploding kind. You can bitch all you want about movie violence having nothing to do with the gun culture of mass murder, but you'd be wrong. It has a lot to do with desensitizing us and Tarantino is the king of that numbing. He uses the word "Nigger" so often in "Django" that it loses its power and becomes something the frail of mind might consider acceptable.
"Silver Linings," on the other hand, is unexpected, delightful and even healing. As one who's had to deal with mental illness (alcoholism), I like it when art faces this massive problem frankly and without the soaring violins of sappy three-towel melodrama. This one's direct: two crazy as hell young people are trying to reconstitute their lives and have narrowed their field of help to each other. Flawed they are. Destructive they are. Batshit crazy they are. But they're appealing and there's hope in every frame of the movie.
This one--like her "Hunger Games" before it--belongs to Jennifer Lawrence, but Bradley Cooper emerges as a force, as well. They're the lead crazies and their families include Robert DeNiro and a lot of good character actors, all in fine roles. It's from the Weinstein boys and you've learned to count on them. Good movie.
Up next: "Lay Miz" and I'm not sure I'm looking forward to this. The previous two movie iterations were outstanding and neither needed music to succeed (neither did Victor Hugo's book).