Monday, March 03, 2003

It was Phil's Big Weekend At The Movies.

Since Liz was out of town, my entertainment options were limited. I won't go to restaurants or bars by myself, and I don't relish the idea of spending all my evenings at home with the cats, so that left me with the movies as a relatively cheap way to pass the time. Unintentionally, I went to the same multiplex three days in a row, and while it wasn't all bad, I don't want to be a regular at the AMC Empire in Times Square. So I won't be going back there for a few weeks. Anyway, here are my reviews of the two new movies I saw, and a few comments on the movie that I saw for the third time.

Friday night: Frida, starring Oscar nominee Salma Hayek --

Frida was better than I expected from the reviews. Hayek and Alfred Molina are excellent as the leads, and the director does a great job integrating Kahlo's artwork into the movie. I don't feel like I have the complete picture of Kahlo's life after seeing this movie, but I've got a decent idea. Hayek's Oscar nod for this role is well deserved, but even though the Academy tends to like roles where the actor has an affliction or handicap, she's not going to beat Nicole Kidman.

Saturday night: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers --

I'm a geek, so I had to see this film one more time in the theater. The orcs still lose the battle of Helm's Deep if you see it more than once, and I didn't see anything new this time around. But I did notice more of the film's emotion than on the previous two viewings. The theater got a little dusty when Theoden visited his son's grave. I think that Arwen's departure from Rivendell can be seen ambiguously; we're led to believe that she's leaving Middle-earth, but I think we'll find out in Return of the King that she's defied her father and gone to Gondor instead. Since that book ends with their marriage, unless there's a radical departure from Tolkien's story, she's got to end up there anyway. Besides, she has to bring Aragorn his sword (I'm still upset that they didn't give him a re-forged Narsil before the Fellowship left Rivendell). Also, at one point in TTT, Aragorn embraces Arwen and caresses her ears with his fingers. I mentioned this to Jess, and she suggested that he has a fetish. Finally, at one point in TTT when Gollum is screaming and howling, I wanted to turn to someone else and say, in my best Graham Chapman voice, "What an eccentric performance!" But no one I knew was there to hear my witty remarks.

Sunday afternoon: The Pianist, starring Oscar nominee Adrien Brody --

I've seen several movies about the Holocaust, and I knew I wasn't ever going to be in the mood to see another one. And for the first half of this movie, I questioned my need to see any of the events depicted. We know that the Germans are going to humiliate the Jews in the streets. Then they're going to start shooting them randomly. And now they're loading them onto trains for Treblinka. Having seen all of these things in Schindler's List and other movies I saw back in Sunday school (yes, Jews have Sunday school, at least in my community growing up), I knew exactly what was going to happen before it showed up on the screen. But then the movie takes a different turn, as the lead character avoids Treblinka and ends up hiding out in a series of apartments in Warsaw, watching through window cracks events like the ghetto uprising and the eventual defeat of the Germans. Adrien Brody is fantastic as the pianist who goes from playing on the radio to combing through bombed-out buildings for scraps of food. His performance is every bit as good as Daniel Day-Lewis' in Gangs of New York or Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt. But I think an Oscar for him would be an upset; Day-Lewis is the clear favorite here.

I'll write an Oscar picks entry in a few weeks. Clearly that's something much on my mind at this time of the year, and unusually enough I've had the chance to see most of the nominated films and roles of 2002. Liz and I aren't doing our usual Oscar picks bet this year, so I need some way to express my views on the nominees. Damn, I'm excited about writing that one.

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