Standing in line at the theater the other day, I realized about six movies on the list overhead were legitimate options. What a rarity - I can't remember a similar platter of movies served up at one time in the past decade, even in times just before the Oscars.
What have I seen in the past month since finals ended? Slumdog Millionaire. Benjamin Button. Gran Torino.
What would I like to see? Frost-Nixon. Milk. Doubt. One roommate says even Marley and Me isn't too bad (I don't believe him).
I found The Curious Case of Benjamin Button the best of the three I've seen recently. The New Orleans backdrop and the rather epic scope of the film appealed to me, and I found the story thought provoking and, frankly, deeply moving. A few scenes seemed to drag along, but I left not wanting to discuss and analyze with my roommates on the way home, as I am wont to do, but simply desiring to sit silently and let it wash over me. I found the movie spoke powerfully to the pain and trials of life for anyone who does not fully conform to societal norms through no fault of their own.
Slumdog was simply a joy to watch. The pacing and sheer vitality of Indian life came bursting through. Early on, the movie seemed a bit too "cutesy" in some ways, but it matured along with the characters into something better, an interesting and successful blend of Bollywood and mainstream.
Gran Torino. Wow. Clint Eastwood encrusted himself in every apple pie American myth and ornament of masculinity, the gun-toting, Pabst-drinking, Union man, heavy-cussing stereotype surviving as the last white man in a decaying Michigan wasteland. It was a bit much at times - almost too heavy handed as social commentary. And yet it was very funny and touching. As the movie wound on, it was heartwarming to see Walt Kowalski grow more tender and grandfatherly to his Hmong neighbors - and heartbreaking to see the depravity of the streets intrude. Eastwood towered abvoe all the rest, reminding me of my own grandfathers, offering a rare restatement of faith in the time-tested American way of life.