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Tag: The Last Station (1-2 of 2)

Movie critics: Our advice to friends when we're not on duty

In January, a time warp separates me from my friends and family. I’ve seen everything big now playing at the multiplex; sometimes I’ve seen a movie months ago, and sometimes twice. But everyone else who’s not in the same business as I am is just beginning to have access to those movies, many of which are just going wide now. So, my movie-loving friends and family ask me, “How’s It’s Complicated? What about The Hurt Locker? Have you seen Avatar?” A parent asks, “Can I take my daughter to Fantastic Mr. Fox?” My dentist asks, “What’s worth seeing?”

Thing is, at this time of the year, my own critical assessment has little to do with how I respond. Instead, I become a little bit of a matchmaker, a little bit of a shrink, and a little bit of a listings guide. I mean, I know the value of when to let go of my brilliant argument that Invictus is square and lazy filmmaking, and instead let the cousin who’s a big Matt Damon fan know that she’ll like him as a rugby player. I can talk until I swoon about how much I love The Hurt Locker, but I would never urge it on the friend who hates war pictures and flinches at all scenes of violence; for her, instead, I suggest It’s Complicated — a movie I know she’ll enjoy, much as I harrumphed at it in my review.

So as a service to moviegoing friends everywhere in these first days of the new year — and to my dentist, too — I offer Lisa’s Mild Guide to the Megaplex. And yes, by all means, take your daughter to Fantastic Mr. Fox — it’s great.

Avatar: Big! Blue! Looks great! Forget the script and story!

Crazy Heart: It’s all about Jeff Bridges. Nice music.

Invictus: Morgan Freeman and guys in sports shorts save South Africa!

The Lovely Bones: Have you read the book? Then definitely skip the movie. If not, well, it’s still meh.

Nine: A crazy dull mess. Oh, but you say you liked Chicago? Well, it’s still a crazy dull mess.

The Princess and the Frog: Love it.

A Single Man: Love it. It’s a about a gay man whose lover dies, by the way, whatever the posters suggest.

Up in the Air: Love it. Yes, George Clooney is good.

The Young Victoria: Nice.

The Last Station: Nice, especially for Mom.

Did You Hear About the Morgans?: Awful, especially for humans.

Want to add to my Mild Guide? Here’s your chance.

Image credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, cougars, and dames

I had a theory all worked out: The lifestyle of a cougar — you know, an “older” woman (i.e., past 40, or is it 30 and the camera adds 10 years?) who fancies younger men–is a titillating sociological phenomenon made for TV shows, not movies. I mean, I can sort of see the appeal of  Cougar Town on ABC, and I certainly understand the allure of Samantha-the-manhunter on Sex and the City. But I can’t imagine (or maybe don’t want to imagine) Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand, or most any other serious, over-40 screen actress buying into the trend as a career freshener. Cougarhood is a TV-size sociological joke, not a feature-length state of sexual appetite.

Like I said, I had the theory all worked out. But then the other day I read Steven Zeitchik’s solid, all-too-familiar bummer of an article in The Hollywood Reporter about the slim pickings this year for Oscar candidates in the Best Actress category. Did you know, as the author cites, that in the past 20 years, “exactly one fiftysomething woman has taken the prize (Helen Mirren, for The Queen)”? I became so bummed that I lost interest in my Theory of Cougars in Pop Culture….

Instead, I’ll just note that Mirren quite possibly may get a nomination again this year, for her bravura performance as Mrs. Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station. (The movie comes out in a few weeks; that’s her above, looking every inch a Tolstoyan.) There’s a great, maturely sexy scene in which Mrs. T lures her old husband (a fine Christopher Plummer) into bed for a satisfying romp. And Meryl Streep, of course, as Julia Child in Julie & Julia, also loves the sexy time with her old husband (adorable Stanley Tucci) and quite probably will score her 16th nomination for the delicious performance.

No cougars, these foxes. Just great dames.

Photo Credit: Stephan Rabold

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