Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday Movie Day Reviews: Fidelity, Football, and Giant Dolls

Away from Her (2007): This is one of the most depressing movies I've ever watched. That being said, both Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent create one of the more memorable on-screen marriages. The elderly couple's world is rocked when Fiona (Christie) is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and chooses to be put in a nursing home. The husband, Grant, must cope with losing his wife as she emotionally attaches to a male patient in the nursing home and he realizes she will never be the same woman he fell in love with. For most of the film, Grant shows incredible fidelity in the face of hopeless circumstances; he loves his wife so much that he is willing to do nearly anything for her, including watch as she gives her time and affection to this other patient. However, one scene near the end of the film nearly ruined it for me (possible spoiler alert!)--depending on your interpretation of the scene, Grant either has the strongest of commitment to Fiona, or gives in to loneliness and selfishness. (If anyone has seen the film, I am curious about your interpretation of the relationship between Grant and Marian and Grant's motives). Overall, a heartbreaking look at a marriage in dire circumstances. (7.5 out of 10)

Leatherheads (2008): I watched this with two Arizona youth pastors, Josh and Ryan, during my California road trip. Directed by and starring George Clooney, Leatherheads plays out like a very well done high school play. With witty and over-the-top dialogue, a cliche love triangle, and an ode to the 1920s, it is a mediocre homage to the classic comedies of the 1930s (think silly, screwball humor, only not quite silly enough for 1930s standards). In fact, mediocre pretty much sums it up. It's not bad. It's just not good either. (5 out of 10)

Lars and the Real Girl (2007): This may be one of the most delightful and authentic films my wife and I have watched together this year. The premise sounds totally bizarre: a shy young man begins a strange romance with a life-sized doll he purchases on the Internet. Lars is not interested in sex--he is a devout Christian--but rather wants deep, meaningful love. His brother and sister-in-law don't know what to think, and eventually the entire small town join Lars and Bianca (that's the doll's name) on their quest for romance and healing. The way that this film addresses pain, healing, and loving the marginalized is remarkable. 

I found a conversation between some of the members at Lars' church especially interesting. Some members are angry and upset that he is bringing a giant doll to church; others accommodate Lars and try to make him feel welcome and comfortable. Ultimately the pastor asks the cliche-yet-necessary question: what would Jesus do? I think Jesus would respond the way Lars' doctor responds throughout the film. She lovingly and patiently listens, waits, and empathizes as Lars deals with some deep hurts from the past. She doesn't reject him, make fun of him, or put him on medication. She instead loves him and humors him in the midst of his confusing relationship with Bianca. Also, Ryan Gosling deserves some sort of recognition for his portrayal of Lars; falling in love with a doll never looked so real! It's a feel-good film that is both funny and serious, both whimsical and--to steal the film's title--real(9 out of 10)

Gigli (2003): Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck together make one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Ok, so I didn't watch the entire thing. I missed about 45 minutes in the middle to go to the store...and missed nothing. The premise is that almost-gangsters Affleck and Lopez kidnap a mentally retarded kid played by the sidekick in National Treasure. Along the way, they say some of the worst dialogue written for film, all for no apparent reason and sounding like they're reading from cue cards. Let me give away the ending so you don't have to watch this: Ben Affleck takes the retarded kid to watch Baywatch being filmed on the beach for about 20 minutes of the film...then credits roll. My wife's response at the end: "what was the point?" Exactly. This film is offensive, useless, and an insult to movies. (0 out of 10)

1 comment:

  1. Wow that picture of the guy cutting the girl's food reminded me of Saturday, only it was different. I went to an assisted living place with 8 others from church and when we ate lunch Jordan Forney was at my table. When we got our meat Jordan stares at it not knowing what to do. He looks at his knife thinking about using it and then say, "Betsey, help." I ended up cutting his meat for him. Why did I help him and not make him do it himself? I don't know.