It's that time of year when all the "serious" films are released. And so we have an onslaught of the best and the brightest, or those that wanna be. It's a mad dash to release by the end of the year for two reasons: 1) to make the Oscar deadline, (2)to be remembered by Oscar voters while the movies are still fresh (or stale) in Oscar voters minds. This year the Best Picture category will include 10 --count'em--10 films. I saw two this week and am catching up fast--will post as soon as I see them.
To begin, there's NEW MOON which doesn't have a chance in hell of being nominated for an Oscar. It's the second installment in the ongoing teen vampire saga that has grabbed a certain segment of the female population by the throat and, well, you know. While the first one conveyed a modicum of sexual hunger, the second one truly sucks. It's all sublimated teen sexual desire, frustration dramatized to a fare-thee-well, literally. This time, Bella has two guys hardly able to contain themselves. There's Edward (Rob Pattinson) the gorgeous pale hunk of a vampire who dares not get too close to his lady love, lest he release the beast within and ruin her forever. In fact, he leaves! Re-enter Jacob (Taylor Lautner) the hairy, pumped-up Native American with a mouthful of dangerously white teeth, who dares not get too worked up around Bella lest he rip her face off and scar her for life. There's a lot of anguished mumbling, and funky dream sequences, and much leaping about in the forest, and bad acting, and references to Romeo and Juliet, though Shakespeare never did utter the likes of, "So. You're a werewolf." I went with my 81 year-old mother visiting for Thanksgving who kept saying, "what's going on? Why is his skin so white?"
There's a different sort of teen movie out there, which isn't really a teen movie at all: the completely winning--and very smart AN EDUCATION starring Carey Mulligan as a precocious 16 year old London teenager during the 60's who's bursting at the seams in her stuffy little middle class rowhouse. She dreams of Paris, sex, art--and Oxford! She meets an older, urbane Jewish businessman (Peter Sarsgaard) who sees her promise and offers to show her the world. What happens is enough to make you squirm, but don't avert your eyes. Though Nick Hornby's screenplay doesn't let anyone off the hook, it subtly redeems these characters, and gently guides our heroine through the moral complexities of her youthful odyssey. And Carey Mulligan? She's been compared to Audrey Hepburn. They share a certain innocent sophistication, but Mulligan is less beautiful and has stepped into much murkier moral territory. She's subtle and compelling on screen and may just be nominated for best actress for her role here.
I'm on a cinematic roll the next two weeks!
and stay tuned!