Like most parents of small children, Matt and I don't go out much without Kate, which means that staple of the pre-baby date--the theatre movie--is a very rare occurance. We actually went twice in January, though (well, counting New Year's Eve, which is technically December), and have watched a couple other fairly-recent releases though our TV's On Demand feature. photo © 1935 State Library of New South Wales | more info (via: Wylio)
So, with the Oscars fast-approaching, I thought I'd share a couple of the movies we've seen recently, in case you're looking for something fun to do after the kids are in bed!
The King's Speech
This is the one we saw on New Year's Eve, and we just loved it. It tells one of the lesser-known stories of modern history, about King George VI (Colin Firth) and how he overcame his insecurity and stammering problem to lead Britain during WWII. I can't help but see Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbosa from Pirates of the Caribbean, but he was still terrific as the speech therapist. The film also gave a glimpse into what it must be like to live in the confines of palace and protocol. This film was interesting, moving, and even funny at times. I really hope it wins Best Picture.
I wrote about this one after Matt and I saw it on MLK Day (when Kate was in day care and we had a little lunch-and-movie date). It's the story of a perfectionist ballerina who struggles to dance the role of the Black Swan because she isn't in touch with her dark side. Her tormented quest to nail the part drives her to madness--paranoia, hallucinations, the whole nine yards. It was good--and I love psychological thrillers--but the horror elements made me cover my eyes at numerous points, and watch the corner of the screen, rather than the center, so I wouldn't be as startled by sudden freaky imagery. I know Natalie Portman won the Golden Globe, and may well win Best Actress, but honestly, I can't really judge how good her acting was, since many of the most dramatic moments in the film were so heavily CGI-enhanced.
The Social Network
AKA "the facebook movie." This was really interesting, since Facebook is such a part of our culture now, it's almost funny to think of how it was really the brainchild of one guy (well, possibly partially borrowed from the Winklevoss twins, who were played by one actor, Hayley Mills-style). The movie tells the story of Facebook's founding, and the subsequent lawsuits against Zuckerberg. Written by Aaron Sorkin, the film weaves the lawsuits and the actual events together very well. Zuckerberg is clearly a neurotically brilliant person--a fascinating character, played by Jesse Eisenberg.
I visited a friend who was in grad school at Harvard just a few days prior to when Zuckerberg did the original Facemash thing in October 2003, so it is just fascinating to think that such a world-changing event was going down in a dorm room across campus. I need to ask my friend if she has any memory of all the drama in the Harvard Crimson or whatnot. Matt and I spent much of the movie reminiscing about our first memories of Facebook, and marveling that--in the great scheme of things--we were pretty early adopters. Matt got on it pretty much as soon as Vanderbilt was added to the network sometime in late '04 or early '05, and while it felt like he was hounding me forever to join, I know I was on it too by summer '05. This is a must-see for anyone who uses Facebook, and even for those who don't.
He's Just Not That Into You
This may be the best movie to have a horrible ending that I've seen lately. It had brilliant insight into the psychology of males and females, dating and mating, which makes sense since it was based on a non-fiction book. I'd never really thought about the fact that the whole "he's mean to you because he likes you" thing parents tell children really just sets girls up for a lifetime of thinking bad treatment is really a good sign. And women just play into this as they comfort each other by making excuses for men, perpetuating womens' delusions. I would hope that single girls seeing this movie would get the reality check that if he doesn't call, it's not because he lost your number; that he's not going to leave his wife for you; that he isn't going to finally decide to propose after living with you for seven years. That's the message of the movie, and that's why I thought it had such an awful ending, because after 90 minutes of reality check, for a couple of the characters, the improbable does happen, and girls who see it and get their heads on straight then walk away with hope that they too are the exception to the rule.
I'm a sappy romantic myself, so I'm not against a happy ending, but in this case, it felt like someone came in at the end of filming and said "no, wait, it needs a happy ending," and they undid their whole message in the final two minutes. Nonetheless, still worth seeing, as are all four of these movies (except Black Swan if you're squeamish). Don't forget the popcorn!