Saturday, December 30, 2006
Now, I ain't claiming to be a fancy pants seen-it-all babbler - I'm just a writer who works at a movie theater and blogs about what I'm interested in so no big summation of the year's offerings here.
I mean it's pointless to make a top ten list of the year's best at this point - many lauded big-time studio features (like LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, CHILDREN OF MEN, THE GOOD SHEPHERD, etc.) aren't gonna be in my area 'til January or later so I'm just gonna blab some blurbs 'bout a bunch o' flicks I have seen since my last post.
THE QUEEN (Dir. Stephen Frears)
Definitely one of the year's best and most likely the definitive 'walking on eggshells' movie. Helen Mirren's dead-on portrayal of her Majesty's reaction (or at first non-reaction) to former Princess Diana's death and Tony Blair's (Michael Sheen) touching and funny attempts to smooth it all over with the peeved-off public all plays perfectly. Not a wasted moment - this deserves every Oscar it will get.
SHUT UP & SING (Dir. Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck)
Like THE QUEEN this is very much about public relations. As I'm fairly sure my readers know The Dixie Chicks made history when Natalie Maines made a fiercely anti-Bush comment between songs at a London concert at the dawn of the Iraq war. The snowballing firestorm (I don't care if that's a glaring contradiction) that ensued makes up the bulk of this documentary. Less a cinematic statement on the state of free speech in America than truly a sharp music doc 'bout a band dealing with backlash from a controversial quote and how that affects their touring and recording - the bit that has Bush's response from a Tom Brokow interview - "They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out... Freedom is a two-way street." Maines' reply: "what a dumbfuck. He's a dumbfuck," That bit alone makes this whole deal essential viewing.
BLOOD DIAMOND (Dir. Edward Zwick)
This thriller about the blood diamond trade in West Africa is way too long with awfully written dialogue throughout ("In America, it's bling bling. But out here it's bling bang"). The scenes between Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly are TV-movie bad. Still there's some great photography and intriguing story elements - it's just unfortunate that when the dust settles it is just a big noisy empty piece of bling bang.
Next time out - DVD reviews and more when filmbabble enters a brand new year! This post is dedicated to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, who passed away on Christmas day.
RIP JB 1933-2006