Sunday, November 04, 2007

There Will Be Movies. Margot at the Movies. Movies in the Time of Cholera. P.S. I Love Movies.

Daylight savings is upon us in the U.S., we're less than a month away from Thanksgiving, it's finally cold in Chicago, and I've just seen my 100th new release of the year—as it happened, the hilariously overripe and overlit "courtroom" "thriller" Fracture. Could've planned that better. Still: after taking 8½ months to see 50 movies, I managed to see 50 more in about six weeks, and only two of them were on DVD. Consider this a plug for having a day job that invites you, that requires you, that pays for you to keep pace with your hobbies and private manias. And now, the end is nigh. We only have so many tricks and treats in store before Movie Year 2007 has shown us all it's got to offer.

In the interest of suspense, with only two months to go before it's time for Ten Best lists, I won't update or emend the midterm progress report that I published at the end of the summer. I will, however, update my viewing agenda, shuffling the categories a bit and making room for winter- and spring-quarter titles that I'm scrambling to find on DVD. If something knocked your socks off in 2007 and I haven't already seen it or listed it here, please give it a plug in the comments section. Otherwise, this is the pool... and though my year-end awards aren't as comprehensive or as devoutly followed as some people's, I hope to keep you interested as we head into the mass hysteria and delicious gratuitousness of awards season!

MAIN COURSES
I'm Not There, There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men

SUCCULENT SIDE-DISHES
Redacted, Southland Tales, Margot at the Wedding, Youth without Youth, Persepolis, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

SOLID NUTRITIONAL VALUE
Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains (missed it), Starting Out in the Evening, I Am Legend, Darfur Now (missed it), The Price of Sugar, Atonement, Juno, Sweeney Todd, Honeydripper, The Orphanage

SMELLS FUNNY, BUT I'LL TRY IT
American Gangster, Enchanted, Love in the Time of Cholera, Charlie Wilson's War, Lions for Lambs, The Kite Runner, The Mist, Grace Is Gone

VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS (DVD)
Black Book, Ten Canoes, The Exterminating Angels, I Don't Want To Sleep Alone, Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams, 12:08 East of Bucharest, Offside, Private Property, God Grew Tired of Us, Broken English, The Namesake, Fay Grim, Days of Glory (Indigènes), Crazy Love, Paris, je t'aime

ONLY IF I'M NOT TOO FULL
The Great Debaters, For the Bible Tells Me So, The Golden Compass, P.S. I Love You (missed it), Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, The Walker (missed it), The Lookout, The Simpsons Movie

POSSIBLE FORCE-FEEDINGS
Beowulf

Before anyone asks, my Atonement problem springs from having read the book a week or two ago and finding it emotionally unpersuasive and arrogantly technical: it struck me that McEwan was pawning some of his own limitations as a writer onto his characters, so that his tendencies toward aridity and schematics become their foibles instead of his—symptoms of the writing passing themselves off, sometimes interestingly and sometimes not, as subjects of analysis. He spins a good yarn, with some evocative set-pieces in a French barn and a war hospital; unfortunately, though the writing is best in these passages (and because he's Up to Something, there are reasons for this), I wish the prose and the narrative logic were as gripping in the first half of the novel, where its heart seems to lie (in more ways than one!). I'm quite curious how Joe Wright will bring off certain characters and narrative turns, but the high-romantic pitch suggested by the trailer seems worrisomely wrong. Mainly Movies, who harbors the same misgivings about the book, has registered a lukewarm-at-best response to the film. I'm nervous. But I'm also compulsive, so I'll certainly see it, and I wish I could do so right. now. And if Vanessa Redgrave can do for the epilogue what she did for the prologue of Howards End, I'll have gotten my money's worth.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Nick, could you elaborate a bit on your reaction to Atonement - Specifically which bits of the characters' behaviour did you see as symptoms of McEwan's limitations as a writer?
I also read the book not that long ago and had reservations, so am curious to hear others' responses.

Also, do not miss Black Book!

6:28 PM, November 04, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

Well, I'm a strict Nicks-Flick-Picks-Honorees follower, so I'm really looking forward to them... even if I don't see most of the movies for months afterwards.

I'll loudly second the call not to miss Black Book; I'd also recommend catching Mira Nair's The Namesake, , and on DVD, if they've been released over there yet. All solid B+'s from where I stood.

4:45 AM, November 05, 2007  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:51 AM, November 06, 2007  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

@Goran: Will do, but not at this late hour. Check back again soon.

@Dave: Thanks so much for following along! Your comment didn't come through perfectly, but it looks like you're espousing The Namesake, Tell No One, and This Is England at least (the last of which I've already seen and graded as a "B").

12:53 AM, November 06, 2007  
Blogger Dave said...

That was the general gist of it. Blogger never lets me link.

And I saw almost immediately after sending my comment that you'd already seen This Is England... aren't I the fool. Glad you liked it though.

5:55 AM, November 06, 2007  
Blogger Dr. S said...

I loved Atonement when I read it, and my reaction to the film when I saw it here in September was one of enormous frustration. I wanted to love it; I am nothing if not a high-romance person. But it was wrong. If anything, I felt that the film revealed to me an emptiness in the narrative that I'd missed when I read the novel. Alas.

4:17 AM, November 07, 2007  
Blogger tim r said...

Quite agree with Dr S there. The movie is the book's undoing!

10:10 AM, November 07, 2007  
Blogger lylee said...

I second Goran's question, cause I, too, have reservations about Atonement (the novel) that I strongly suspect the movie won't lay to rest. Although mine mostly have to do with the novel's structure - quite frankly, I didn't buy the Something he was up to. It felt like a cheat.

12:13 PM, November 13, 2007  
Blogger Catherine said...

I also am curious about your reaction to Antonement. Personally, I disliked the book a lot. I'm usually a fan (or an admirer at least) of McEwan, but that particular one left me feeling cold and betrayed. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.

4:28 PM, November 14, 2007  

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