Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Defiance" & "Violence"

I am very delinquent in sharing my thoughts on the last two films I saw, "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" and "A History of Violence." This is shaping up to be a movie-free weekend, though (nice weather plus visiting family) so I'll get my cinematic kicks by reaching back into my brain for thoughts on last weekend's movies...

First, "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio." Eh.

Next, - oh, all right, I'll give a it a bit more space. But not much. It was just so-so. Pleasant, not overly stupid or sentimental, but not very inspiring either. And for a story about how a mother of 10 inspired her children to go on to great things (including writing the memoir which the film was actually based on), inspiration should be a given. I think my standard for big-struggling-family stories was set long ago by the book "Cheaper by the Dozen" (NOT the inane film of 2004, which took nothing from the 1948 book/1950 movie except its title and the concept of 12 kids), and nothing ever is as good. I used to read "Cheaper by the Dozen" over and over; I was fascinated by the efficiency expert father and even tried to emulate some of his experiments. For example, I wrote his Morse Code teaching hints on the wall next to my bed, just like he'd written them on the wall of their summer home to teach his kids.

See? I can't even talk about "Defiance, Ohio" without branching off into something else. That's how insubstantial it really is.

"A History of Violence" on the other hand is a really great film. Despite my bad experience in the theater that day, I really enjoyed it. You have to understand I hate watching violence on the screen, and avoid most action/horror/war films. So when I do watch something that contains violence, it affects me more - but I also appreciate when it's realistic and has ramifications and isn't just all surface and visual. But I'd sit through this movie again (covering my eyes when I know someone is about to get shot in the face) just because it's that good. Maria Bello and Viggo Mortenson both are really good - the actor who plays their teenage son (Ashton Holmes - I assume no relation to Katie) holds his own as well. Ed Harris makes a compelling enough victim, but it was William Hurt (as a NJ mobster) who surprised me - I barely recognized him, he was so transformed. I think this is a movie I would have absolutely loved if I'd been able to really focus on it (and not on what was going on around me) but it still managed to impress me.

I also got to see trailers for two movies I'm incredibly anxious for - "Rent" and "Harry Potter & Whatever the Fourth One is Called." I loved "Rent" - saw it three times on Broadway (which is a lot, considering that makes up about 50% of the Broadway plays I've seen in the last 10 years), have the soundtrack memorized, etc. I am really happy that the orginal cast is (almost)intact. It could have gone the way of "Chicago" - can you imagine, Renee Zewelleger darkening her hair to transform herself into the latina Mimi? One of the Wayans brothers as Tom Collins? I'm worried about Rosario Dawson taking over as Mimi, though. But at least it's not Jennifer Lopez.


Blogger Tom said...

Yes, "A History Of Violence" was really very good.

6:01 PM  
Blogger medusa said...

I'm assuming you had a better theater experience than I did - but I have read about your "cinema arsehole" experiences on your blog so you know how annoying they can be!

4:54 PM  
Blogger jane said...

I don't go to movies, but I did just buy 'the prize winner..' and after about 10 pages & too many 'jingles', I'm unsure if i'll read the rest. i'll give it a few more tries.

9:25 PM  

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