The “Beautiful” above refers to one single scene in GRAVITY—not to the whole movie—but I like the almost–spaghetti western rhythm of the title, and Sandra Bullock, when you finally get to see her sans space suit, is certainly beautiful.
I recently saw and liked a lot—PHILOMENA: I love Judi Dench, and she gives another stellar performance as an ordinary woman who is searching for the son she kept a secret for fifty years, taken from her when he was a little boy and given up for adoption by the Catholic nuns who run the orphanage in Ireland where Philomena grew up. The Catholic world of sin and damnation, and one cruel nun in particular who sees herself as morally flawless, reminded me of all the reasons I’m an ex-Catholic.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR gets my vote for most boring movie experience of 2013. Okay, the director and the two lead actresses were awarded the Palme d’Or, and it’s made it to a lot of “ten best” lists. But it’s three hours of talk, talk, talk, except for one incredibly long scene that is all sex, sex, sex — sex that is only explicit, never sensual or truly erotic. It looks like what it is—two women doing everything that the male director wants them to do because that’s what turns him on.
Adele is a young woman who seems to be sleep-walking through her life, awakened at last by an artist named Emma—she of the blue hair. The only scenes that have any humor, tenderness or genuine chemistry between Adele and Emma are the ones before they end up in bed. Among the various characters—Adele’s high school friends and her working class family, Emma’s more refined, liberal family and her circle of artists and writers—the dialogue is mostly surface. There’s no sense of complexity, of people who have a life outside of the scene portrayed on camera. In Peter Bradshaw’s review of the film in The Guardian, he writes: “Julie Maroh, who wrote the original graphic novel, dismissed Kerchiche’s adaptation as a straight person’s fantasy of gay love.” That says it all for me. Thumbs down.
The saddest movie of the year: BLUE JASMINE, written and directed by Woody Allen. Cate Blanchett is devastating as a wealthy woman who loses everything and desperately tries to hang on to some semblance of her once sublime life-style. Blanchett’s remarkable courage as an actor is here for all to see; her willingness to portray with such honesty a ravaged soul is breathtaking.
My favorite pure film visual of the year is in GRAVITY: After an attempt to repair some equipment goes horribly wrong, Sandra Bullock is trapped in deep space and inside her space suit for a very long time. She runs out of oxygen and is down to breathing fumes before she finally makes it back inside to a space capsule. She removes her helmet and inhales, swallowing air. Then she maneuvers out of her space suit and floats up, exhausted, her toned muscles outlined by a tank top and black briefs. The camera holds perfectly still as she stretches up full-length and then oh-so-slowly curls into herself. There are times when the human form alone is cause for wonder. Watching Sandra Bullock’s incredibly beautiful body free itself from the confines of that bulky suit to emerge into zero-gravity was worth the price of admission.
2013 Movies I Still Want to See: AMERICAN HUSTLE, HER, ALL IS LOST, THE WIND RISES and CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.
That’s all, folks.