Monday, October 20, 2014

Movie Monday 10/20

My husband was away this weekend, on a golf trip with three friends (my gift to him for his recent birthday), so I took advantage of the time to watch movies that I knew he wouldn't like!

I've wanted to see August: Osage County with its star-studded cast ever since its first release in theaters, but whenever I suggested it, my husband just made a face. He was right - he would have hated it, but I really enjoyed it! Though all of the cast is made up of a Who's Who list of great actors and actresses, the spotlight in this movie is really on the women and their relationships with each other. Meryl Streep, movie matriarch, here plays Violet, matriarch of the Westin family and her three grown daughters, played by Julia Roberts (Barbara), Julianne Nicholson (Ivy), and Juliet Lewis (Karen). They all return to their childhood home in Oklahoma - with husbands, children, and fiancees in tow - when their father, played by Sam Shepherd, goes missing. Violet is a real piece of work, coping with mouth cancer by chain smoking and downing innumerable pain killers so that she is always high and often shouting. The sisters have all the kinds of issues you might expect between sisters who grew up with such an overbearing, passionate mother. Margo Martindale plays Violet's sister, with Chris Cooper as her husband, Charles, and Benedict Cumberbatch (of Sherlock fame) plays their grown son, still embarrassingly referred to as "Little Charles." With all of this boisterous, dysfunctional clan stuffed into one house together, chaos ensues and quite a few deep family secrets are revealed (usually during a family meal!). It was all very noisy, messy, and frenzied (all things my husband would have hated!) and quite sad at times as well, though with some laugh-out-loud moments. All of those top names in acting earn their salaries here (and note that Misty Upham, tragically and recently deceased, also does a great job here as the Native American nurse hired to help Violet (whom Violet refers to as an Injun)).

That was my mainstream hit for the weekend, and on Saturday, I watched a stranger, less well-known film that my husband definitely would have pronounced "quirky." Palo Alto is based on a series of short stories written by James Franco (yes, THAT James Franco - who knew he was a writer?), set in the title town. It is mostly focused on a bunch of bored teens getting into various forms of trouble. Teddy seems like a sweet kid, but he drinks and smokes a lot of pot with his friend, Fred, and ends up with a DUI and related charges. April is a star soccer player but a bit insecure off the field; she seems aware that Teddy likes her, but doesn't follow up on it. She babysits for her single-Dad coach, Mr. B. (played by James Franco), who professes his love for her and initiates an affair (yeah, ew). Meanwhile, Fred starts a relationship (of sorts) with the promiscuous Emile. As Teddy is tied up doing his community service (and is supposed to be avoiding Fred and his illegal temptations), Fred spins more and more out of control. Each of these teens pretty much hits bottom at some point, though the movie ends on a hopeful note for most of them. I enjoyed this serious teen drama - it held my interest and sometimes reminded me a bit too much of my own indiscretions in high school - though I wouldn't list it as a favorite.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

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