As an unambiguous sign of winter, we watched 12 movies this month! Looking back, there was a fair range:
The best of the humorous movies this month was Two Days in Paris, a very, very funny bilingual (English and French) romantic comedy set in Paris, written and directed by Julie Delpy, who plays Marion, the female lead; her love interest, Jack (played by Adam Goldberg) is an American who struggles to fit into Marion’s life. I also really enjoyed the high school movie Charlie Bartlett starring Anton Yelchin and the superlative Robert Downey Jr. Enchanted was a rather saccharine but nonetheless watchable Walt Disney fairytale rewritten for the 21st century, combining a dizzying array of Disney animation, live action and computer generated imagery with musical singing about love. And The Darjeeling Limited was a funny/serious/odd movie about three American brothers (played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) who meet up in India in order to have a spiritual journey together that is supposed to bond them together as brothers.
Among the more nailbiting or action movies, Gone Baby Gone was a very good albeit rather unsettling crime story (directed by Ben Affleck and starring his brother Casey) set in a poor working class neighbourhood of Boston that is riddled with crime and drug abuse; when a cute little four-year-old girl by the name of Amanda disappears, seemingly abducted, a pair of private investigators is hired by the worried aunt of the girl to help the police find her. It kept us guessing until the end. We also watched WarGames: The Dead Code, the 2008 sequel to the 1983 WarGames movie, which turned out to be more like a rewriting of its predecessor, updated it to fit in with current computer technologies and to take into account the new big threat to world civilisation: the ‘global war on terrorism’. Eastern Promises was a rather gory and graphically violent, but nonetheless very good movie about the Russian mafia in London. Directed by David Cronenberg, it stars Naomi Watts as sweet and innocent Anna, a midwife who has a young pregnant girl die on the operating table during labour, and Viggo Mortensen as Nicolai, a frighteningly menacing ‘cleaner’ who works for a Russian mafia boss. And the one I didn’t manage to finish watching was I am Legend, a very frightening sci-fi horror set in Manhattan in 2012, starring Will Smith as a virologist who is miraculously immune to a genetically re-engineered measles virus that had originally been hailed as a cure for cancer.
The best kind-of-documentary we saw this month was Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch; it charts the travels of Christopher McCandless (calling himself Alexander Supertramp) through the USA, and his encounters with eccentric and interesting characters, many of whom have stepped outside the confines of society for various reasons. We also decided to give The Secret a try: The basic premise of this movie is that the universe consists of both energy and matter, and that matter can be turned into energy and energy into matter. The much-hyped ‘Secret’ (capital S) is nothing more than a force called “the Law of Attraction”, which is operating all the time, whether we are conscious of it or not – and whether we believe in it or not. This means that who we are right now, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves right now, are the end-product of who and what we were in the past. The third documentary of June, The 11th Hour, was a deeply depressing movie about the devastating effects that our consumer culture is having on our global ecosystem. The movie was narrated and produced by a very earnest Leonardo di Caprio. It contains innumerable interviews with equally earnest and serious scientists who present their perspectives on climate change, pollution in its myriad forms and the merciless consumption of the earth’s resources (water, trees, fossil fuels, minerals, animals, plants).
And because I always try to smuggle in a love story or two, we watched Grace is Gone, a beautiful, sad movie about a father (played exquisitely by John Cusack) who discovers that his wife (Grace), a soldier, has been killed in Iraq; unable to tell his two adorable daughters that their mother has died, he takes them on a spotaneous cross-country trip to an amusement park in Florida called “Enchanted Gardens”. And finally, Away from her was the perfect movie for a gooshy-sentimental mood: it is a sad love story about a retired couple (played by Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent) living idylically in rural Canada, when the wife starts to develop Alzheimers and has to be admitted to a nursing home.