Daily Archives: March 11, 2010



Despite its Harlequin-romance title, Never Let Me Go is quite possibly the best book I’ve read by a living author.  So it was with mixed emotions that I recently read that a film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel is in the works.  Hollywood is bound to screw it up, I thought.  Then again, the movies did a pretty good job with another Ishiguro story, The Remains of the Day.






Sandra Bullock was quite modest when she accepted the Best Actress Oscar for The Blind Side.  I am convinced that Academy voters were actually voicing approval for Bullock’s nude scene in the atrocious The Proposal (above).  After all, it worked for Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give.  Wait … never mind.




Massa        Snorkel


I have no comment on this guy, New York Congressman Eric Massa.  I just wanted an excuse to run a picture of him and an excuse to say “snorkeling.”


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Up in Air


I have an elderly aunt, never married, who once told me that if the choice was between staying single or being in an unhappy marriage, her preference was to live alone.  This choice is one of the themes of Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, in which George Clooney’s character sees not just marriage, but all relationships, as so much unnecessary baggage.

About two-thirds into the film, I had the sinking feeling that director Reitman was going to take this idea into stale romantic-comedy turf.  After knocking some sense into Clooney’s bachelor, it seemed the story would ensure a white picket fence and lots of little Clooneys in his future.  But Reitman and cowriter Sheldon Turner had other, brighter ideas, and this is one reason why I think Up in the Air was robbed of a Best Screenplay Oscar.

Precious, which took home the screenplay award, was not a writer’s picture.  Its signature moments involve great acting, particularly from the explosive Mo’Nique.  Up in the Air, to the contrary, is a writer’s baby — from the repartee between Clooney and his female costars to the unexpected directions we are taken in the final act.

Does the film side with my elderly aunt’s philosophy on marriage?  That’s a question the makers of Up in the Air leave, well, up in the air.      Grade:  B+


Director:  Jason Reitman  Cast:  George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Danny McBride, J.K. Simmons  Release:  2009 


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If you hear anything at all about Precious before seeing it, you’ll probably expect a depressing, unpleasant experience.  Your assumption would be correct.  To Sir, With Love, this movie ain’t.

But director Lee Daniels’s drama is worth viewing for at least two reasons.  No matter where you stand on the welfare issue, Daniels’s film will probably convince you that there are two types of people on public assistance — those who truly deserve it, and those who do not.

Which brings me to the second reason Precious is worth seeing:  the Oscar-winning performance by Mo’Nique as the ultimate “welfare queen.”  You do not want to haggle with this character over food stamps.

And yet, social issues and great performances aside, Precious is a movie that, I think, is not as accessible as it aspires to be.  Try as I might, this middle-class, middle-aged, white male reviewer simply could not much relate to Precious’s nightmarish world.  God knows that is not a complaint, just an observation.      Grade:  B+


Director:  Lee Daniels  Cast:  Gabourey “Gabbie” Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd  Release:  2009


Watch Trailers and Clips (click here)


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