Sunday, November 22, 2009


Cheri is about an 18th century aging French courtesan who falls in love with a pretty boy called Cheri. Michelle Pfeiffer is the aging beauty and the pretty boy is played by Rupert Friend, a fey, fair-skinned boy, who would be very attractive if not for an ugly shoulder length hair cut. (You might remember Friend as Mr. Wickham in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice) The movie is pretty ho hum with a few funny moments supplied by Kathy Bates as mother to Cheri. One scene of note takes place at the end when Pfeiffer’s character is transformed from a beauty to an old woman as she stares at the camera. It’s a cool scene.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It Might Get Loud

It Might Get Loud profiles three accomplished guitarists: Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. I went to it with my friend and her 8 and 10-year-old kids and the 10-year-old's friend. The 10-year-old is a budding guitarist, so his mom wanted him to learn from the legends. So, from the pre-teens view the movie was a little long and at times confusing. The friend thought it would be more fun if they were playing Leggo’s while listening to some of the music. The 8-year-old was aghast at Bono’s leather pants: “He must get sweaty in those pants.”

From an adult perspective, one who was wondering if she was going to be bored, I thought that overall, the film was not boring. It zipped around from guitarist to guitarist like a flung bouncy ball in a classroom, which was often jarring. And there were parts that were too guitar-wonky, snooze, but there were also some amazing scenes. At the center of this zig-zagging is the three interesting men filmed on what looks like a living room scene on a stage talking about playing the guitar and doing some jamming. What makes the movie come alive are some great moments that are captured on film: Jimmy Page playing a classic tune while Jack White and The Edge look on and beam with pleasure. And there’s fantastic concert bit of U2 playing Sunday Bloody Sunday (which I wish could have lasted longer). Plus, there were charming first guitar stories. I wanted more stories about their lives and guitars and more of them playing together. I think the film makers were trying to create a very stylized and unique documentary that looked cool, but they did the overdo on the stylishness and ended up with some good, some boring, but some amazing.

P.S. Saw this movie at the Zinema, our new independent theater. Love it! Plus, you can get free refills of popcorn! Bonus!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I almost saw Into Temptation

Patrick Coyle, director and writer of Into Temptation, was in Duluth to discuss his Minnesota-made movie. The movie was at the Zinema, our town's great new independent movie theater. At the start of the movie, the director sat on the aisle steps. The movie begins with Father John listening to a parishioner in the confessional complain about her husband. Then . . . skip . . .skip . . .skip. The disc kept skipping like a bad movie night in your living room. Coyle ran out to see what was happening and then returned apologizing and saying he would pop over to his car and get another disc. A director who has an extra movie at the ready seemed handy and kinda weird. Then after a few minutes of disc 2, skip, ... skip,... No director appeared to apologize. The audience sat for about 20 more minutes before starting to file out of the theater. We got our money back but wondered what the deal was. It's too bad too since the 30-40 minutes of the movie I saw (parts from the beginning, middle, and end, by the way) was pretty good. Jeremy Sisto (of Law and Order and Six Feet Under) plays a gentle Catholic priest who tries to help a woman who has confessed that she plans to kill herself. But what actually happened at the Zinema last night? Who knows?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An Examined Life

In An Examined Life 7 philosophers speak about the meaning of life while walking through a particular city scene. When I went to the movie I had no idea what it was about, and slowly came to the realization that it was a well-filmed, hour and a half philosophy class. Sound interesting? Surprisingly it was. But this unique movie going experience took some getting used to. You had to put on your student hat. Spicing up the instruction is the witty Cornell West who frames the movie by appearing three times and entertaining with his snappy though somewhat incomprehensible banter.

As an aside, I am thrilled that my smallish city has gotten a new independent movie theater called the Zinema where I saw this quirky film. Now I don't have to travel to see new off-beat movies.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Education

An Education is based on the memoir of the same name by Lynn Barber. She looks back at the early 60s when she 16 years old going to a London prep school with plans to attend Oxford. The thing that is great about the movie is the Jenny, Barber’s younger self, played by Carey Mulligan. Jenny is razor smart, skewering her buffoonish father with witty asides and speaking French to anyone who listen. When she is dazzled by the much older David, played by Peter Sarsgaard, who she later finds out is a con man, she begins to lose her way. Unfortunately she is not helped by her parents who are made to be simpletons who are duped into allowing her daughter to be taken away for weekends with David. David appears to be a big creep to the viewer but this smart girl gets taken in though she is never totally controlled by him and in some ways is smarter about a lot of things than he is. An Education is a slice of life movie about a time when girls had few choices for their lives. I think without the great acting by Mulligan the movie would not shine as well as it does, but with her it is well worth seeing.

Oh and learning about the real Lynn Barber is fascinating. Check out this article from the Telegraph.