Saturday, May 9, 2009

Australians and Slumdogs and Nuns, OH MY!

Anymore, it's very rare that I see a movie during its theatrical run. There are lots of reasons: money, time, money... So I've become a huge fan of Netflix. It may just be the best business model of the 20th century.

This last week I finally got to see some movies I missed. These three movies were about as different as you can get, but they did have one common thread: a young boy whose story will tug at your heart.

AUSTRALIA - I knew a bit about this film, but it was so much grander than I expected. If you're familiar with the work of Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Strictly Ballroom) you can see all his signature marks: quick cuts, saturated colors, hyper-realistic scenes, and bits of narration. Not only is this an epic tale full of action and danger, it's also a tender love story. Ladies, try not to swoon the first time Hugh Jackman shows up clean shaven. Ahhh....

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE - Wow. After so much attention during Oscar season, I knew I had to see this movie. But I was also worried. Sometimes a picture has trouble living up to the hype when it's so big. But this one not only lived up to it, it exceeded it (for me, anyway). Some of the scenes are very hard to watch, but the payoff at the end is worth it. I loved the way the writer handled flashbacks to tell the story of sensitive Jamal and his polar-opposite brother. And the final Bollywood-style musical number during the credits was fabulously uplifting. My only beef was in the subtitles. Not only were they tiny, but they were almost designed to blend into the background. This may have worked on a huge theater screen, but it didn't do so well for me on my not-so-big TV. Thankfully, the majority of the dialogue is in English.

DOUBT - I don't want to say too much about Doubt, because the meat of this movie is in the discovery. It's really a character study, and the actors are incredible. To see Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman go toe-to-toe is something else. Amy Adams is pitch perfect as the young Sister who only wants to see the good in the world. And Viola Davis took a small part and made it huge. The movie was directed and the script adapted by the author of the Broadway play, John Patrick Shanley, and you can tell. Rarely do you find such smart dialogue in a movie. This is the kind of film that will keep you thinking long after you push the STOP button.

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