Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

27 January 2011

This Is a Post about Two Things, Actually

After the Oscar nominations on Tuesday, I make an annual effort to see all of the nominated feature-length films. I exempt myself from the docs and the shorts, just to keep myself sane. (I'm not really that into documentaries if you haven't noticed.) There have been years when the Oscar nominations have come out and I have had only one movie to see. That was when I was living in Los Angeles. So, now I live in Tallahassee and it's a little harder to see all the movies I want to see, and I have eighteen to see. This is my to-do list for 2010:

1. Alice in Wonderland (Funny, because I was planning on avoiding this altogether...)
2. Biutiful (I've been dying to see this.)

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (I don't know what happened; I just never managed to go.)

4. Another Year (Another one I've been dying to see.)

5. Barney's Version (I am not particularly interested in Paul Giamatti, but I am hoping this is funny.)

6. Blue Valentine (This comes out on Friday in Tally.)

7. Dogtooth (Κυνόδοντας) (This is on Netflix instant.)

8. Hævnen (In a Better World) (I love Susanne Bier! This should be good. I didn't know she was making Danish movies again.)

9. Hereafter (I have to figure out how to catch this one. I tried earlier but the film was canceled.)

10. Hors-la-Loi (Outside the Law) (Playing nowhere. But I already love anything titled this.)

11. Incendies (This comes out in April '11)

12. Iron Man 2 (Oops. Should have seen this when I had the chance.)

13. Rabbit Hole (I love JCM, so I plan to like this, although I think the play is a little, shall we say, underwhelming.)

14. Salt (On its way via Netflix. Should be fun.)

15. The Tempest (Ugh. I was hoping to avoid this. It looks like a train wreck. Maybe it will fall into the so-bad-it's-good category.)

16. The Wolfman (I am excited for this one.)

17. Unstoppable (And this one.)

I saw the eighteenth last night. It was Peter Weir's The Way Back starring Ed Harris (who I always associate with Peter Weir, for some reason), Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrel, Saoirse Ronan, Gustaf Skarsgård, and Dragos Bucur.

This is a really solid movie with some excellent storytelling in it. It feels like a Peter Weir movie, if that makes any sense: I guess I feel like I am used to him making very good pictures that not a lot of people actually care about. I like his movies a lot, but excitement tends to be lost on critics.  

The Way Back is a survival story. Seven men escape a gulag in Siberia in the late 1930s or early 1940s. They flee Siberia, walking a thousand kilometers to Mongolia, and then across the Mongolian desert, through Tibet, and over the Himalayas, to freedom in India. They walked. So: it's a film about survival, about human limits, about kindness, and (ironically, since they are fleeing Stalin) community and working together.

It's an ensemble film, as well, with Jim Sturgess as the ostensible focus, but with great performances from all the principles. I was particularly moved by Gustaf Skarsgård's work. He has a haunted face to begin with (you may remember him from the Swedish film Evil) but his character in this is a really fascinating portrait of a man who needs forgiveness.

And let's just say it: I love Colin Farrell. He plays a Russian criminal in this, and he is fabulous. He disappears into the role, speaking only broken English, and performing in a role that is nowhere near the star part. This is a man who doesn't need to be the star of a film. He takes a great character part, just because it's a good part for him. Very cool.

The Way Back is a bit tough to watch at times -- walking across the Mongolian desert isn't exactly good for the health -- but I thought it was worth it.

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