Friday, March 30, 2007

Highbrow and Lowbrow

I need to amend my list of Best Movies of 2006 to include Little Children. Actually, I’m going to go ahead and declare it the best movie of 2006 that I happened to see. Have you seen it? It should be out on DVD soon, so rent it if you haven’t seen it. That is, rent it if you like character-driven movies about the consequences of self-delusion and the transgression of suburban mores.

In my opinion, Kate Winslet should have gotten the Academy Award for her performance. It was better than Helen Mirren’s in The Queen, but Winslet played an ordinary and flawed character—not a larger-than-life bastion of self-discipline, so naturally she (yet again) wasn’t recognized. I think she’s a tremendously good actress. (Titanic notwithstanding.)

I seldom pay much attention to how a movie is directed—it’s one of those background things for me, but the director of this film made some very wise choices. For one thing, the movie has a narrator, which means that the tone of the novel from which the movie is adapted remains intact. And I should know, since I’m listening to an unabridged audiobook of the novel right now. (Yeah, I’m obsessed.) The movie is very faithful to the book. Damn it! It should have won best adapted screenplay, too. I mean, I was happy that Little Miss Sunshine won, but this adaptation was even better. And while we’re at it? Best supporting actor. Damn, damn, damn, and a side order of Hell! Why didn’t it go to Jackie Earle Haley for his creeptactular and yet somehow sympathetic portrayal of the “pervert”? I realize now that I actually had a little bit of a crush on this actor waaaaaay back in 1979, when he played Moocher in Breaking Away. I had no idea it was the same guy. Anyway—A+. Rent it or, if you live in Portland, go see it at the Laurelhurst and drink yourself a beer and eat yourself a slice of pizza.

On a completely different end of the spectrum, there’s Blades of Glory, which, I do believe, opened today at theaters all across the United States. It’s an incredibly stupid movie. But...incredibly hilarious! It stars the ever-paunchy Will Ferrell—flaunting his paunch to full comedic effect as only he can do—and that guy from Napoleon Dynamite (no one actually knows what the actor’s name is) in fine, blow-dried fettle. Spangled unitards are featured. Nutsacks are mentioned more than once. “Mr. Roboto” is skated to. It skewers everything that's ridiculous and outlandish about figure skating competitions. Do you really need to know more? I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I’ll just say this: Check your brain at the concession stand and go see it. Be sure to watch very closely during the scene of the North Korean team performing the vaunted Iron Lotus maneuver. You’ll wet your pantaloons!

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