Violeta’s comment on my Gone Baby Gone post reminds me that it’s time for a movie round-up:
Into the Wild: This movie is haunting me. The actors are wonderful and the script is first-rate. The cinematography is gorgeous (Sean Penn’s taken some heat for loving the scenery too much, but for me, the depiction of the landscape served as another way to understand the main character and also, frankly, as a bit of an antidote to the narrative). But this is not an easy movie for a mother to watch; it’s harder, even, than Gone Baby Gone. I sat in the theater wondering how I could guarantee that one of my children won’t someday break my heart, and coming up with no good answer.
Michael Clayton: This is a totally compelling mystery thriller. The details of the plot escape me now–a big bad pharmaceutical company and the law firm in its pocket–but they hardly matter. It’s a character-driven film about various forms of addiction (to drugs, to gambling, to power); bad choices; and fatherhood.
Across the Universe: Director Julie Taymor created this musical based on the Beatles songbook. She’s a genius. This is the most visually inventive film I’ve seen all year; it’s gorgeous and surprising. The actors are terrific, the song choices make you think, the story is timely, and yes, that is Bono making an appearance as a school bus evangelist.
Mad Hot Ballroom: A documentary about a dance program in the New York City public schools. I love that the school district has set aside time and money to teach their middle schoolers ballroom dancing; it seems like a brilliant way to address the terrible awkwardness of early adolescence and help kids through it. There’s a huge cast of characters here, from the various teachers to the kids, and I didn’t feel like we really got to know many of them very well until the end, when we’re told (but not shown well enough) how dancing helped the kids. But my biggest gripe about this very sweet, very inspiring movie is that while we see a lot of dancing, we see it from the waist up, without nearly enough long shots or views of these dancers’ feet!
Becoming Jane: A costume drama about Jane Austen — what’s not to like? It’s all very pretty and way too modern and mostly implausible, but set all that aside: it’s a pleasant place to spend a couple hours.