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( Sep. 2nd, 2006 09:06 pm)
I just caught part of Mona Lisa Smile on television. I hadn't seen it before. It's just as well. And I'm glad I didn't see it in a theater -- I would have walked out. As it is, I could only stand about ten minutes of it.

I want to present a couple of facts that people can keep in mind if they see it:

Madeline Albright and Judith Martin were both Wellesley alumnae from the fifties. (Hillary Rodham Clinton was from the '60s.)

The president of the college at the time period the movie was set was Margaret Clapp, who had a Ph.D. from Columbia in history and, oh yeah, a Pulitzer prize.

The president before her was Mildred McAfee Horton. That would be Captain Mildred McAfee Horton. She had become president of the college in 1936, and left the post to become the Navy's first female line officer. She was the first director of the WAVES, and fought to get more opportunities for women in the service. She returned after the war to the post of Wellesley's president, which she retained from 1946-49.

During the post-War period, the College had to field complaints from the town of Wellesley that some students were coming into town dressed poorly in grungy overalls and generally looking scandalous.

When I went there, admittedly twenty-five years later, a woman on my floor who wanted to be an elementary school teacher was criticized by quite a number of her classmates as "wasting her education."

So this portrait of Wellesley women as frail things mostly concerned with finding a husband and keeping their place, needing people like Julia Roberts to liberate them? What a load of crap.

Although it was really nice to see the inside of Houghton Chapel again. It is staggeringly lovely, and actually the movie doesn't do it justice.
pat: (Default)
( Mar. 24th, 2006 10:23 am)
I saw Crash last weekend, and saw Good Night and Good Luck for the second time yesterday. I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain, yet. I saw Capote in theatres.

Of the movies I've seen, Crash was far and away the weakest. It was the film that made the least demands on your critical thinking skills. It was the least nuanced.

So why did it win Best Picture?

My theory? Cocktails.

It's like this. You get your DVD in the mail so that you can see the movie to vote on it. You pour yourself a stiff drink, or maybe a good glass of wine, or two. You watch the movie.

If you're buzzed, Crash's "Why Can't We Be Friends" riff seems almost profound. And the depth and complexity which make, say, Capote a great movie disappear.

Well, of course, there is the school of thought that it was a movie about the difficulties of life in Los Angeles being voted on by a bunch of primarily Angelenos.... but my theory is more interesting : )
pat: (Default)
( Mar. 6th, 2006 08:57 am)
Let's recap, shall we?

2003: Best Picture: Chicago, Best Director, Roman Polanski for The Pianist
2001: BP: Gladiator; BD: Steven Soderbergh, Traffic
1999: BP: Shakespeare in Love; BD: Speilberg, Saving Private Ryan
1990: BP: Driving Miss Daisy; BD: Oliver Stone, Born on the Fourth of July. Note: Bruce Beresford, who directed Driving Miss Daisy, wasn't even nominated for Best Director, the only time that's happened (BP's director not even nominated)

Okay, so over the past twenty years, there were BP/BD splits one fifth of the time. In the past ten, it's been 3/10; in the previous five it's been 2/5.

It's not a big deal, people.

And as far as Larry McMurty's comment that the win for Crash indicates that "Americans don't want cowboys to be gay" -- since when has the Academy been representative of the American public at large?
Let's look at the movies nominated for Best Picture:

Brokeback Mountain
Goodnight and Good Luck

The first four of those were "social relevance pictures", albeit about different issues. So what? The Academy doesn't vote for "Most Important Picture" -- it votes for "Best Picture." What was the best movie as a movie.

(Every once in a while the Academy gets mixed up and doesn't vote for the best picture, instead going for the "Important" picture. Moulin Rouge was a better movie than A Beautiful Mind, for instance, although the latter won "Best Picture".)

I didn't see Crash. I haven't yet seen Brokeback Mountain, although I intend to. Or Munich, although I have seen Good Night and Good Luck and Capote. * I have no way of second guessing the Academy's choice here, nor does anyone who hasn't seen Crash, at least.

Just because someone has something important to say does not mean their movie is necessarily better than everybody else's.

*Of the two I did see, I would have to give the narrow edge to Good Night and Good Luck. Capote was an impressive movie, but somehow a very cold movie; Good Night and Good Luck engaged the heart as well as the mind. That said, I was delighted that Philip Seymour Hoffman won for his portrayal of Truman Capote. It was a tour de force.
Seen in [ profile] jmhm's journal, from Lance Mannion. Pick ten movies to show to someone from somewhere else to give them an idea of what America is about.

"What you're trying to do is give them a sense of who we are---your take on our dreams, our attitudes, our idioms, what we think we are, what we are afraid we are, what we really might be."

My list?

The Grapes of Wrath
All The President's Men or Good Night and Good Luck
Apollo 13 or The Right Stuff
It's a Wonderful Life
Singin' In the Rain
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Dr. Strangelove
12 Angry Men

How about yours?
On My Fair Lady:

It is unnecessary to summarize the plot or list the songs; if you are not familiar with both, you are culturally illiterate, although in six months I could pass you off as a critic at Cannes, or even a clerk in a good video store, which requires better taste.

(thanks to [ profile] rmjwell for the link.)
I am going to do something I told myself I would not do: write a serious post about Revenge of the Sith, and about the Star Wars universe in general. As [ profile] kwalton said once, they're only movies. But they have some interesting messages in them, and the lack of critical thought with which some people -- especially teenagers -- seem to accept to underlying precepts bothers me a bit. Although I have to confess that, while I saw Phantom Menace several times (and IV, V, and VI more than I can count), I have seen the other two of the first three only once. (I intend to see Sith again -- Attack of the Clones I found next to unwatchable.)

(Part of this arose from a discussion with my son, who at fourteen is a more nuanced thinker than I was at twenty. He scares me a bit, but that's another story.)

Okay, so there are spoilers. A few, anyway, although I don't think it would surpsrise anyone who has read the reviews. )


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