Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Three great movies - Juno, Persepolis, and There Will Be Blood

In the past week I've been lucky enough to see three great movies that are in theaters right now: Juno, Persepolis, and There Will Be Blood. I saw all three before the Oscar noms came out, and I gotta say that for once the Oscars seem to have gotten it mostly right (tho no nom for my favorite movie event this year, Grindhouse ... not that I'm terrible surprised, but still, LAME)

Juno is probably the most honest movie I've seen about teen pregnancy - while still managing to be funny, un-preachy, and likable (unlike the "other" pregnancy movie this year, "Knocked up", which had some of the worst female characters I've ever seen on film). Ellen Page, who takes the title role, is phenomenal - great comic timing and screen presence. If she doesn't get the award for Best Actress I'll be disappointed. Nothing really noteworthy in terms of cinematography or score, but solidly directed and superbly acted, with a great script. And even Jennifer Garner wasn't that bad.

Persepolis, tho denied a best foreign film and best picture nod, should be seen by everyone in this country. Its a beautifully animated (hooray for a old fashioned 2-d aesthetic that isn't ANIME!) film based on a graphic novel of the same title by Marjane Satrapi. It tells the true story of Marjane's childhood growing up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Heartbreaking and beautiful, it shows a very different perspective than Americans are used to seeing (Communism an agent of freedom?) but that is all for the good. The movie is just plain beautiful, with the majority being told in flashback, in stark black and white. I saw it in the original French with subtitles, and I recommend that everyone should see it this way if possible - the voice acting is superb and I can't imagine it has the same lyricism in english. Like I said, EVERYONE should see this film.

There Will Be Blood. That's a promise made with the beginning Biblical-style title of P.T. Anderson's latest movie, and it doesn't lie. This is a movie that has it all - Directing, Cinematography, Music, and the Best Actor of the Year (and maybe vying with Lawrence Olivier for best actor ever) Daniel Day Lewis. Loosely based on Upton Sinclair's Oil! it tells the tale of the oil magnate Daniel Plainview. It covers every theme from man's struggle with nature to family values to twisted religious figures. I'm not going to give anything more away about it, other than to say that it really was the best movie of the 2007 season, and I hope it gets the Oscar. Special note: I dearly loved the score for this film, and the constant edge of uneasiness it gave the film (see 2001 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind for other examples sort of like this). See it.

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