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Amour

Amour (2012) – A spell-binding, unwavering look at the part of the happy love story we prefer not to see, when the promise of til-death-do-us-part is made real. Here we are at the inevitable parting inherent in any happy couple that has weathered life’s storms and grown old together. It’s the point at which most stories avert their gaze, and it’s where Haneke’s camera refuses to look away. We observe the old married couple, Georges and Anne, in their routines – in health and in its slow deterioration – and the patient camera forces us to see the pain and despair but also the deep love that binds and supports them both. Yes, it’s the untidiness of approaching death played out in full, and an unfolding of the comforts and terrors of intimacy, and finally a glimpse of the dark and discomfitting places love may lead us – but it is also strangely touching and hopeful. This is not an easy movie, and it demands much of you, but it is well worth it. You might even call it romantic. Well, if you like quiet, extremely intense foreign art house movies. About love, commitment and death.

Caveat: This is the first Haneke movie I’ve seen, so while I’m aware of his reputation for cruelty and manipulation, I have no history with it.

Short Takes – Fall Movie Division

A quick rundown on some of the movies I’ve seen in this fall. Short takes inspired by the Movie Blog method.

The Master – Impressive performances from the two main actors (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix), and a very scary and intense Amy Adams. This one offers lots of fodder for film school discussions, parsing symbolism etc., but the further away I get from it, the more its initial impact fades for me.

Seven Psychopaths – Despite a great movie-stealing performance by Sam Rockwell, this one struck me as half-baked, with some scenes that work and others just not quite gelling. There are some funny lines, and some very clever meta stuff, but merely having a character acknowledge the awful treatment of female characters in movies such as this one does not absolve you of trying to actually do better on that score. Even with a great Christopher Walken turn, this one doesn’t quite come together.

Looper – Loved it. It’s fun, tense, with great attention to detail in set design and look, and fabulous secondary characters. There are real stakes, difficult moral questions, and a very innovative use of time travel. Highly recommended.

Argo – Seems to be widely considered a favorite. It’s a solid piece of entertainment, fun and tense in all the right places.

End of Watch – I could have kept watching Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena for several more hours.  Fantastic character work, which looks effortless but packs a punch; these guys seem like real people, and the movie takes its time to build the world they inhabit.

Pitch Perfect – This movie delivered exactly what I wanted from it. So much fun. Plus, college a capella. Just put this one on your rental list already.

Dear Academy

My, how time flies. Although, not so much when you’re watching the Oscars. Every year, I tell myself that it’s really not necessary for me to actually watch the Academy Awards, that the show is boring, too long, not really that important, and half the time they get it wrong anyway. And every year, I find myself staggering bleary-eyed into work on Monday morning after a very late Sunday night spent groaning at the TV. This year, same thing. I am still tired and my eyes are like sandpaper, thanks to the endless, endless show. And my apparent compulsion to watch it, even when I totally disagree with the results and am bored by all those montages and songs. Those songs. Dear John. Continue reading