I’ve had several blog ideas percolating this week, but I haven’t had time to get to them until now, so expect one or two entries a day for several days…
Academy Award nominations are out and a lot of people seem to be up in arms about three movies: The Reader, The Dark Knight, and Slumdog Millionaire. For The Reader everyone seems supremely angry that it is nominated for anything, for The Dark Knight everyone seems upset that it didn’t get more nominations, and for Slumdog Millionaire everyone just seems to be generally wetting their pants over how wonderful it is. I do not understand any of these reactions.
The Dark Knight is extremely overrated. It had no story, no climax, and only two characters that were even moderately developed (The Joker and Harvey Dent/Two Face). Additionally, the last 45 minutes feel entirely tacked on. Why couldn’t Two Face get his own movie? I really don’t get the hoopla. Yes, Heath Ledger was great. And yeah, it’s violent, if that’s your thing, but even the action scenes, in my opinion, were poorly filmed (I hate action scenes that are intentionally confusing and have lots of jump cuts. Let me see what’s going on, okay?). A lot of people are make the excuse that the story was developed in the first movie. I totally agree. I really like Batman Begins, but that does not mean that you can get away with having no story/character development in the second movie. If you want me to call a movie great, you have to give me more than one great performance and a bunch of sloppy action scenes.
Slumdog Millionaire is good. I really enjoyed it, but it is not as great as everyone seems to think it is. After about forty-five minutes, it is totally clear what is going to happen. The plot is EXTREMELY formulaic, and that’s okay. Like I said, I really like the movie. It does a good job making a formulaic plot enjoyable, but it is not the best movie this year. I don’t think I would even put it in my top five. I think this is getting so much attention because of the happy ending, but that’s not enough for me.
The Reader is fantastic. I did not see a better movie this year. Many, many people seem to have a real problem with the story and an inability to relate to the characters, and I just don’t get it. The main character seems especially relatable to me. I watch him and totally understand everything he does. Kate Winslet’s character is also really interesting and complex. What must it have been like to be 20 years old in Nazi Germany? Wouldn’t it have been hard not to go along? And what do you do after? To quote one of the characters, “everyone knew”. No one was really innocent, so of course you pick up the pieces and try to live a normal life. I understand everyone in this movie and I relate to them AND the story is not predictable. I was riveted through the entire movie. Cate had to use the bathroom for the last half of it, but wouldn’t get up because she didn’t want to miss anything. Aside from Mickey Rourke (maybe), Kate Winslet gives the best performance I’ve seen this year, but there isn’t a weak performance in the entire movie. I really don’t understand the problem people have with this movie.
So that’s it, I have no idea where people are coming from with these three movies, especially the reader. If someone wants to try and enlighten me, please feel free.
P.S. Do you know what is the biggest fucking injustice of all? The song category. Peter Gabriel and two songs from Slumdog? Really? Have they heard the track Springsteen recorded for The Wrestler? The Gabriel track is fine, and clearly written to win a Grammy. I can’t remember any of the music from Slumdog, which says a lot, but the Springsteen song has been in my head since I walked out of the movie almost a month ago, and not in a bad way. It’s so haunting and evocative. I do not understand how it didn’t even get nominated.