Friday, January 17, 2014

A Tale of Two Contrasting movies



I saw two movies this week, one I thoroughly enjoyed, another that will be nominated for a stack of awards. Sometimes those ends appear to be mutually exclusive, especially when Meryl Streep is involved.

“August: Osage County,” with Streep, is described thusly: it “tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family.” I found nothing funny in it, nothing deeply touching and not much that resembled a workable family. The acting throughout is excellent, the directing superb, the cinematography quite good. The story?  No thanks.

Bleak, hopeless, mean, nasty people’s lives simply don’t interest me even when they are acting ridiculous at the dinner table. It’s not funny when only hurt and more hurt is the intent. I would not wish “Osage County” (the real one, judging from the pictures, or the movie) on you, regardless of what the Academy says.
“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” on the other hand, pretends nothing, but entertained the bejabbers out of me. 

Chris Pine (the most recent Star Trek Capt. Kirk) as the Tom Clancy title character will never reach Meryl Streep’s level, nor will Keira Knightly, but I’ll take them in a movie that entertains on several levels. Those two have nice chemistry, the first time I’ve seen that small, but important element in a Jack Ryan movie. Even Kevin Kostner and Kenneth Branaugh—usually full of English theatricality—are fun to watch as good and bad guys (and Branaugh doubled as the director).

All of which brings up the more important question: Why do we go to movies? I go to be entertained, not depressed. I like good writing and “Osage County” has some of that. But I like a story that takes me somewhere I haven’t been, a place with some magic involved, maybe one that involves a smidge of redemption. “Osage County” isn’t that place. I’ll take Jack Ryan’s travel itinerary.

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