We had to have talked about something!
We were married for five years before the first one arrived, there had to have been some kind of a conversation going on.
Another sign for me on how things have changed is the tally for me around “Oscar Summer.” Before kids, we probably would have done a different movie a night, maybe even an extra one on weekends. I could almost imagine us hitting anywhere between 80 and 90 movies by the end of the summer. Yeah, that high.
Yet, with kids around and them biting into our evening time and because we can sometimes be so tired in the evening (especially after chasing them all day) and everything else that comes along with life our tally is a little over 20.
It is nothing to write home about.
The hope when we began our Oscar Summer was to hit some of the big Oscar films, but really in the end it became kind of scatter-shot. In a way, I was almost drawn to watching the films that didn’t win, or the ones forgotten. But even in that, we didn’t do much. Again, 20.
Seriously, only 20?
Belle Epoque. I have always had a love for this film. Ever since I was a winner in a contest (hilariously in guessing the Oscars for a local newspaper) and I was shown it in a special private screening, it has nestled its way into my heart. Heck, I have even written about it twice on this very site (here and here). The strange thing is that in 11 years of marriage I had yet to show it to my wife. For those that don’t know the film it is a twisted romantic-comedy set during the Spanish Civil War. It follows a deserter who lodges with a painter and his daughters. I won’t say more about it here, but there is definitely something heartwarming and wonderful about this movie. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
Her. This is how it will probably happen. I think Spike Jonze in his amazing screenplay correctly guessed exactly how the future will play out with technology. And when you consider how many have tried to make that guess (like, for example, Blade Runner) it says a lot. The film is about a romantic relationship between a man and the operating system in his computer and what I loved about it is that Spike in his script kept teasing that the story would go down a more well-trodden path (maybe a thriller, etc.)… but it doesn’t. Her is just what it is. I have always enjoyed Spike Jonze films, and this one might have been the best so far. And it says a lot about his storytelling ability how much you grow to care about a computer program. But, again, this is exactly how I think the future will play out. So we should all probably get used to that idea.
Anna Karenina. I went into watching this film with a lot of lowered expectations and all of them were shattered in a good way. Usually adaptations like this of epic novels (this based on the great novel by Leo Tolstoy) aim for the grandiose. Large settings, big moments. This film takes a different path, playing out the story in a theater house, only rarely stepping outside the building with its incredible sets. The film is shot in long scenes, many times crossing right into another one. It is a beautiful film (and considering I disliked this director’s take on Pride and Prejudice he had to knock this one out of the park to grab my attention) that interweaves choreographed moments into the story seamlessly. The screenplay is by the always amazing Tom Stoppard. This might have been one of the best adaptations I have seen in a while, in the very least one of the most creative.
The Iron Lady. Sometimes people try too hard. I’m not talking about Margaret Thatcher (which this movie is about), but the people who made this film, especially the screenplay writer. There were three (possibly four) movie possibilities here, but instead of focusing on one aspect of her life they tried to cram them all in with important moments only skimmed (or worse played out in badly edited musical montages). In the end the movie feels like an absolute mess. Oh, I get why Meryl Streep got the Oscar for her performance, it is great (but she is always great), but the movie falls on her shoulders since everything else is a mess. Why couldn’t they have just made a singular movie about the later years of her life? Or a movie about her rise into politics? Why do everything? Like I said, this movie is just a mess.
Double Indemnity, I love film noir as a genre. When it is done right, it can be so very enticing. I even once wrote a black-and-white film noir mystery screenplay while in grad school. Nothing happened with the script, it is still around, but I do still dream about seeing it someday on the big screen. Double Indemnity follows an insurance agent who plans a murder with his lover. They are going to attempt to bump off her husband for the insurance money. What is wonderful about this film is that you are seeing it all from the eyes of the villain and you, at times, are even cheering him on. It’s hard not to get excited when they are carrying out the killing. Yes, you may feel guilty afterwards, but it just so, so, so good. Billy Wilder is one of the greatest film writers Hollywood has ever had. Period.
Lawrence of Arabia. This is another film I selected that my wife has never seen. My only regret is that she was not able to see it on the big screen where it deserves to be played (assuming you have a schedule where you can lose half of your day watching this). Lawrence of Arabia follows the rise and fall of T.E. Lawrence and his exploits in the Middle East during World War I. it is a beautifully directed film, deserts never looked as good as they do in this film. Even when the nature is cruel, it is beautiful. When I was watching it this time I kept wondering how this film would play out if it was made in our very politically correct atmosphere. I can definitely see that some would find offense in it (especially around the casting), but there is still something so grand about it. Consider today we would use CGI and green screens to create some of these battle scenes and explosions. They didn’t have that back then. Those are all extras. Real people. Just amazing.
If fiction is more your thing, I’ve had four novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen Daydream, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, My Problem With Doors and Megan.
You can find all of these books via my amazon.com author page here. Thanks for reading!
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