"An empty man is full of himself." -- Edward Abbey

Monday, February 23, 2015

Not the Oscars

     Last night was Oscar night. B and I turned on the show at 8 p.m. (EST) -- we thought it started at 8, but it actually started at 8:30, so we saw a little of the Red Carpet preview. But honestly, we switched over to "Downton Abbey" at 9 p.m., then we walked the dog, then we went to bed.

     So that tells you how much of a movie expert I am. However, yesterday afternoon we went to a dance at our local American Legion. We sat at a table with a group of friends and acquaintances, all age 60 to early 70s. For some reason, between dances, the topic of movies came up. So here's a report on what people -- real people in our demographic -- think of these current movies, not what the so-called experts would have us believe.

     American Sniper -- Well, actually, nobody at our table had seen this controversial movie about Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in American history, directed by Clint Eastwood. A couple of people wanted to see it, but not B. She is pretty sure it would be too violent for her. She does not like violent movies.

     Boyhood -- B and I have been wanting to see this movie for months, but we haven't been able to find it in a theater. Maybe we're lucky. Three people at our table had seen it. One couple reported that it was so boring they both fell asleep. Our friend Julie offered that she thought it was really bad, and said she would have walked out if she hadn't been with a friend. Later, driving home, B turned to me. "I'm surprised no one liked Boyhood," she said. "Maybe we should go see it anyway, just to find out what they're talking about." Maybe we will ... if we can find a theater where it's playing.

    Fifty Shades of Grey -- I went over this in my last post. One other person at the table had read the book besides me. Curiously, two other women volunteered that they had started reading the book, but had put it down. They thought it was too lame, too vacuous, too whatever. Nobody had seen the movie; nobody wanted to see it. So to steal a phrase ... two thumbs down.

     The Grand Budapest Hotel -- One person at the table recommended this Wes Anderson caper movie that takes place in Europe between the wars. (Another person had it confused with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, about the British pensioners who retired in India. There's a sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, coming out later this year.) I don't know. I'm not a big Wes Anderson fan. But maybe we'll check it out.

     The Imitation Game -- I'd heard about this movie, and honestly, it didn't appeal to me. It's about a British code-breaker in post-World-War II England who's arrested for homosexuality. I figured it's got a complicated, hard-to-follow plot with a heavy dose of political correctness. But several people had seen it, and they recommended it enthusiastically. So I figure, I ought to give it a chance ... even though (I found out later) it only earned one Oscar (for adapted screenplay).

     The Theory of Everything -- One couple at the table had seen it, and they recommended it highly. "But isn't it depressing?" I wondered. "It's about Stephen Hawking coming down with a horrible disease." No, it's not depressing, they said, it's really an uplifting love story. And I found out later:  Eddie Redmayne (who I liked in the movie version of Les Miserables) won Best Actor for his performance. So, definitely, put this on your "go see" list.

     Wild -- I was the only one who'd seen it. I'd read the book, and I liked it. I couldn't visualize how they would make much of a film out of it, so I wanted to see what they did. I thought Reese Witherspoon carried off the role very well; but it seemed to me that a lot was left out of the story. I'd say, if you've read the book, then don't bother with the movie. But if you haven't read the book, it's worth a trip to the theater.

     Sorry, but Still Alice, the movie about Alzheimer's, didn't come up in our conversation. Julianne Moore won Best Actress for her performance. (For a complete list of Oscar winners go to Variety.) But this one has got to be depressing, don't you think?

     Finally, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), didn't come up in our conversation either. It won the Oscar for Best Picture, so I figure it's probably worth going to see. Anyway, I guess that shows you how much I know. But then, as I admitted right up front, we turned to "Downton Abbey" instead.


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Anonymous said...

Patricia Arquette won best supporting actress and in her acceptance speech at the end she was about parity for women, she said every woman who gives birth, citizens who pay taxes why can't in the 21st century there be parity for women..Oh, my goodness sakes I thought it brilliant to say this, I figured she carried the entire film and the young actor Ellar Coltrane who played her son from 6 to 18 years old..I think she is a terrific actress and is finally getting the recognition she deserves and thinks women are awesome and should be paid the same as men in our society..Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez were happy and encouraged her Patricia Arquette from the front row..She is a single mother of two children so she knows about the unequalness of wages in our society..Kudos for her, the movie is great it follows her journey really her son's journey in the movie from 6 to 18 and it is scathingly honest and quiet and beautiful..Our only child worked on this film and I knew about it for a long long time..A quiet indy film that speaks to the USA and the world about life in plain and quiet terms, it is long it took the whole cast 12 to 13 years of filming this movie to get it made..Quite a feat I say..you can now stream it on Netflix or get it at Target to buy..I would wait for a few weeks for the price to fall from $16.99 but worth the wait and time to see it!

stephen Hayes said...

The only movie up for an award that we've seen was The Grand Budapest Hotel, and I thought it was a dreadful movie and we only stayed to the end to see how bad it got. Pretty bad.

Olga said...

I saw both Boyhood and The Theory of Everything and enjoyed them both.
i watched the first five minutes and then decided to read instead. I forgot about Downton Abbey being on, but I will watch that today anyway.

Rita said...

I saw most of the Academy Award nominated movies. I recommend: "Still Alice," "The Theory of Everything," "The Imitation Game," "Ida," "Finding Vivian Maier," "Selma," and "The Grand Budapest Hotel." I also liked "The Judge."

I'd avoid "Birdman," "Gone Girl," "Nightcrawler," "Into the Woods," and "Inherent Vices." Most are too violent.

I didn't enjoy "Boyhood" that much. Funny, the buzz was that it would do well.

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Rita said...

Just before the Oscars, I was able to see "Still Alice" and "The Imitation Game" in a theater. I also rented some of the nominees from Red Box.

Some were offered through Comcast, the cable we have here. However, I was very upset that Comcast only offered some of the movies for purchase rather than rental. Just another way that Comcast is gouging its customers again.

Anonymous said...

I am so out of the loop, I had no idea the Oscars were on last night.... Boyhood got rave reviews around here. Took ten years to make. Probably have to have witnessed a boy grow into a man to get the film. The clip I saw was great. Critics also thought Reese Witherspoon hold win the Oscar for Wild. Did she, don't know yet. Might rent both of these from Redbox. Critics said Cumberbatch was Cumberbatch..not that good. As I said, I'm out of the loop.

Donna said...

I watched a lot of the red carpet-I like fashion but I didn't see any of the movies. Watched Downton & a little more of the oscars. Got tired by 10:30 and went to sleep. Just not into movies anymore.

DJan said...

I saw all of the nominated Best Picture movies. Birdman won, but I thought Selma was better, as well as Boyhood. I enjoyed Boyhood even though it was a very quiet movie. The Theory of Everything and Imitation Game were both very good, and Eddie Redmayne deserves that Oscar! I also saw Still Alice and it was a tearjerker but her Oscar is well deserved. I was exhausted when I left the theater after Whiplash and can hardly bear to see J.K. Simmons selling insurance on TV, he was so evil in the movie! I couldn't stay away for the whole show, but I started watching last night. :-)

DJan said...

I meant to say I couldn't stay AWAKE. :-)

Janette said...

We spent the 1980's watching movies in the theater. We haven't been to a theater since 2013.
Saying that, I tuned in after Downton to see the last few speeches (since they no longer show clips as far as I could see). I had looked up the ratings on Amazon for "Birdman" since I had never even heard of this movie. Last night it was rated 2 1/2 stars. I think I will skip it.
My daughter and son in law felt the "Imitation Game" was a very important movie- since that is their field and it is a story that had not been told (or even acknlowdged) before.
I'm waiting to see "Selma" and " Theory of Everything "on our home screen. My husband, the retired Army guy, will surely watch "American Sniper". I'll pass.
Otherwise, I think the Oscars are out of line with regular society. What else is new? I loved the artillery that stated they poll was that at least half of the ballots were done by housekeepers and butlers since the academy did not have time for such things :)

Tom said...

Now I feel bad about not watching. According to the Time Mag. website, ratings for the show were down 14 percent from last year, and the lowest since 2009. Maybe, as my ad hoc panel suggests, the Academy didn't pick the right movies. Regardless, B and I are planning to see The Theory of Everything this weekend.

Janette said...

* article ( not artillery) that showed a poll.
So much for trying to do a comment on my IPad!
Enjoy the movies this weekend!

Tabor said...

I saw The Theory of Everything and it was stunning and I did like it. But that was the only one I saw. I heard both the "boy" movie and the "gray" move were a slog, so not intending to see those. I might see some of the others at my convenience, but not rushing.

Douglas said...

I almost never see movies at the theaters anymore so it's not a surprise that I missed seeing most of the nominated films. I did see "The Grand Budapest Hotel" on one of the movie channels and enjoyed it; it was a farce and a bit silly but entertaining. However, I would not give it any awards. I think that, often, the awards go to pictures for the purpose of increasing the box office take and not because the movie is good or the actors particularly good in their roles. But your remark, Tom, that " if you've read the book, then don't bother with the movie" is excellent. Any movie, based on a book, is the director's view of the book and is unlikely to match your own and is very likely to clash with your own. And, certainly, the cast will not match your vision of the characters.

Mac n' Janet said...

The only one we've seen was The Grand Budapest Hotel and we loved it.
Hated the book Wild, I'm sure she made most of it up.

Rosaria Williams said...

We're movie fans now that we have time on our hands , and since we need to drivetlook 60 miles to get to a mall and a box store and a theater , we make a day out of it. However, we had not seen Boyhood or many of the movies that were nominated. At our age, we see movies and read books to escape, not to be challenged. Come to think of it, that's what most movies do.

Cindi said...

Here's what I had to say about the Oscars:

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