Saturday, October 17, 2009

Swine Flu Movie Review

This week I felt a bit like Rip Van Winkle. Monday I went to sleep and then Tuesday through now were a hazy blur of coughing, watching movies, and vegging out, H1N1-style. Yep, Tuesday morning I awoke with a strange sore throat and cough. Each day I truly intended to recover to full health but didn’t. It was a lost week. Today I’m feeling more myself, and am washing sheets, dishes, airing the place out.

Though the week took me away from my responsibilities, it left me in a medicine-hush, glued to the small screen to catch up on movies lent to me by kind friends. These aren’t necessarily new or great. They are just what I watched this week. My week, in movies:

Charlie Bartlett
Charlie Bartlett is a wealthy prep-school boy with too much inventive energy for his own good. After being kicked out of yet another prep-school, Charlie has to try his hand at public high school. He is beaten up by bullies, but turns the situation around, becoming business partners with the bullies and selling prescription medications (like ritilin and anti-anxiety meds) to the other kids at school. In the process, he becomes a bit of a shrink and guru to much of the student body, because he chooses to listen to the other students in their struggles. The movie looks at themes of needing to be liked (by teens and adults who are acting like teens in their need to be liked), kids having to parent their parents and coming into adulthood. In my swine-flu state, I liked lots about the movie, but the last 15 minutes didn’t do much for me. The movie seemed to look in the eyes of all the problems in its character’s lives, and like the overly-permissive, buddy parents portrayed, leave us with nothing more than a warbling, “Do what you feel.”

The Devil Wears Prada
This “Cinderella at work” tale, of a normal girl working in a high powered fashion magazine office (with an evil and controlling boss), was actually lots of fun to watch. I thought Anne Hathaway did a great job at showing her struggles with the demands of her work, then buying into it, and selling out. The movie toys with questions of materialism, inner and outer beauty but never becomes heavy-handed. The question we are all asking Anne Hathaway’s character by the end, is “How far are you willing to go? How much you are willing to take?” Well done, a light movie that doesn’t leave you feeling empty!

Zoolander
Funny, funny, I never get tired of seeing Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson together. This is just a silly movie about a ridiculous male model, being turned into an assassin by the evil Mugutu. I rewatched this one, but fell asleep somewhere in the middle. “Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?”

Lars and the Real Girl

I don’t know if it was the illness or the movie, but I found myself crying through this tale of one man’s “mental illness” and grief, and his community’s care for him. It was definitely worth seeing; with themes of loving others, loneliness, family, and loss. Lars is isolated and anxious, and mostly responds to others with blank stares and by retreating. He finds an imaginary friend who can help bridge his way back into community. Bianca, his “friend” (who happens to be a life-sized doll), is fake, so she will never die, and will stay with him forever. Having someone by his side seems to ease Lars’ anxiety about coming back into connection with people. This movie is gentle and loving- really well done!

Girl With A Pearl Earring
This is a beautifully filmed movie about a girl who becomes a maid in the house of Vermeer, the painter. I must confess, that though it appeared interesting, and each camera shot was like a beautiful painting, I fell asleep (watching the paint dry). Maybe I’ll pick it up some other time! Or maybe not? I don't know.

Once

This one I watched with friends before, so now I’ve seen it twice. It’s a goody if you like Ireland, movies about musicians trying to make it big, romantic angst, or un-hollywood endings. I like at least three of those, so I like this movie!

***

The good news is my swine flu appears to be in remission. The bad(?) news is I probably won’t be watching any movies for awhile. (Well, I’m planning to see “Where the Wild Things Are” soon.) What can a movie based on an eleven-sentence children’s book be like? That remains to be seen!

In the meantime “I SURVIVED THE SWINE FLU OF 2009!”