I spent the holidaze getting out from under various illnesses, reminiscing about the good ol' days under Gerald Ford (comparatively speaking), and going to TONS of flicks. It became a goal for Martin and myself: to see a movie a day.
Here is my consensus:
GOOD SHEPHERD. A very layered story, suspense-filled, with a wonderful "what if…" premise. And so beautifully photographed! Kudos to Robert De NIro. And Matt Damon proves he is his generation's best actor. It's been overlooked by the Golden Globes, but I hope it racks up some Academy Awards nominations.
VOLVER. I never particularly cared for Penelope Cruz in American movies. Her voice struck me as too high-pitched. In this movie, however, speaking her native Spanish, she is mesmerizing, in a story that is small and large at the same time. Que linda! One of the best movies I've seen all year.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS. Will Smith embodies a character cursed with more hard knocks than any human should have to go through. Jaden Smith, his real son playing his son here, is a natural. This is an uplifting film. Will can — and does — stretch the envelope.
DREAMGIRLS. Both Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson seem born to play the roles they took on in this film adaptation of the Broadway hit show. And Eddie Murphy is mesmerizing as well, going far beyond stereotype. Director Bill Condon's quick editing keeps the story focused, but opens it up at the same time. I enjoyed it much more than when I saw it onstage.
LITTLE CHILDREN. Kate Winslet, our generation's chameleon actress, is both enraging and engaging as a mother who is frustrated by her own life. She can't learn to love her child until she learns to love herself. Jackie Earle Haley makes a comeback in a role of a lifetime: sad, sick, pathetic and empathetic, all in one. Oscar! Oscar!
STRANGER THAN FICTION. We see a wonderful side of Will Ferrell: one that is less antic, somewhat wistful. Personally, I loved it — particularly as he is paired with Emma Thompson, who plays an anxious, plot- blocked author whose life is in his hands; and Maggie Gyllenhaal as his love interest. The casting makes it all work.
Holiday over. Back to the real world — which for me, is plottin' and schemin' on the next book….