Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tags? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Tags!

Byzantium's Shores did not tag me, and yet I'll blithely respond nonetheless to this movie-meme:

1. Total number of films I own on DVD/video:

I'm guessing a bit shy of a 100, in total.

2. The last film I bought:

I rent far more than I buy. The last film I bought was probably Angels in America. I've read the plays several times, but have never seen a production, and don't have HBO, so I was chomping at the bit to finally see at least some version of these brilliant, brilliant plays. Completely lived up to the hype.

3. The last film I watched:

Saw Spanglish just last night (rental). Most of the reviews were dismal, but I thought it was great. Tea Leoni was just amazing. It's so rare that a mainstream comedy allows its characters to be just completely real, as writer and director James L. Brooks did here. I didn't like Leoni's character, Deborah, particularly, but I understood her and believed in her, and that's so much more important. She wasn't your typical movie-land person, with all recognizable human attributes airbrushed out and replaced with cute and quirky screenwriting traits (see pretty much the female lead of any romantic comedy released in the past 20 years), but was instead a recognizable human being, flaws and all (and how). The rest of the cast was just as excellent, and real, especially Sarah Steele as Deborah's daughter, Bernice. Gawky yet witty, intensely self-conscious, and not immediately pretty, unlike 99% of all teens cast in TV and films, Steele created a wonderful character, one we immediately felt for and responded to. She underscored just how contrived so much of domestic characterization is in films and TV, even in otherwise well-done film and TV.

And the central conceit of the film (spoilers lie ahead) just blew me away, if only because you almost never see mainstream-Hollywood (especially mainstream-Hollywood in romantic comedy-mode) acknowledge it: that an adult can fall in real, passionate love and not act on it because there are children involved. Adam Sandler's and Paz Vega's characters (Deborah's husband and their Mexican housekeeper), by the film's end, were clearly in mad love, and yet both very consciously denied themselves that love for the sakes of their children. Amazing (and a bit sad that this very honest portrayal of the way life often works is so rare in this kind of film).

4. Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me:

The Star Wars Films

Counting down until Friday . . .

The Shawshank Redemption

This will become the late-20th Century's It's a Wonderful Life in the next 50 years, mark my words.

The Fisher King

Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges are just great in this film. Wildly underrated.

Beauty and the Beast

Some of the best music for a film in the past 50 years.

The Last Temptation of Christ

So sadly misunderstood and pilloried.

Until Whenever

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