Thursday, October 13, 2011


When starting a new blog, the first post is often introductory and informational, filled with humble platitudes and hopefulness, explaining what this blog will attempt to be. Well, I don't really know, and I am  all platituded out (thank you, spellcheck, I know that's not a real word.)
So what do you say we just act like this isn't my first post, but rather my 21st  post, and go on like we've already been having this conversation for a while.
Her. Right here. This one.
As you know - from the twenty times I've already told you - I'm a movie buff, and I will sometimes get onto a movie-watching kick where I will watch several movies in a row by one director or featuring one actor. What's fun, though, is when I stumble upon one (or two) trends by accident.
For example, over the last week or so I have inadvertently been on a Jennifer Lawrence trend.

I finally got around to watching X-Men: First Class sometime last week. I was never a big fan of the X-Men as a young comic book reader, but I am at least as familiar with the characters as any casual reader of the stories, and, I like James MacAvoy, so, when the opportunity to watch it for free arose (thank you, McDonald's Monopoly game and Redbox) I gave it a look. I enjoyed it. Great special effects, smart storytelling, and a fun sense of humor make this an enjoyable movie whether you are a die-hard comic book fan or just someone looking for an adventure film. Purists may quibble with some of the story elements, but, come on, gang: have they ever made a comic book movie that met all of our expectations? Ever? Most compelling to me was the performance of the young woman taking on the role of the troubled blue mutant later-to-be-known as Mystique: Jennifer Lawrence.

A few days later, I watched the Jodie-Foster-directed and snicker-inducing-titled dark dramedy The Beaver. (See? You just snickered a little bit, didn't you? The internet has made us all twelve-year-olds.) There is a good deal more to this story than is even suggested by the trailer (and I think the trailer suggests quite a bit). I think that we will someday look back on this movie as a very important piece of film-making - even now, it's definitely thought-provoking.

Great performances all-around from Foster, Gibson, Yelchin, and . . . (wait, who's this?) Jennifer Lawrence.
Now, young Lawrence had come upon my radar last year when I read an article about how she had to learn to skin squirrels and chop wood for her Oscar-nominated role in the Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone. I had put the movie on my to-watch list at that point (it's a long list), but I hadn't gotten around to seeing it yet. Not many people have. Apparently, it's the lowest-grossing best picture nominee since 1983's The Dresser with Albert Finney. Well, if you haven't seen it, you should definitely rectify that (stop snickering, that's not what it means) as I did, because it is a very, very beautiful ugly film, and both it and Miss Lawrence are very worthy of their nominations. (You should also see The Dresser, by the way: One of Finney's best performances.)

Now, here is where the second trend comes in. I've had another "winter" movie on my to-watch list for a while now, but it has not been an easy one to find: Winter People from 1989 starring Kurt Russell and Kelly McGillis. Well, I managed to find a copy and, the day after I watched Winter's Bone (which, at this writing, is streaming on Netflix, by the way), I finally watched Winter People. This made for some very interesting comparisons.

Though Bone takes place in the Ozarks of contemporary Missouri and People is set in the hills of North Carolina in the 1930s, both stories take a look at the strong family system of honor and tradition and the often deadly ramifications of the same. Both films also do an incredible job of capturing the bone-chilling cold and bleakness tempered with the stark beauty of winter in the American South. Both films have strikingly beautiful female protagonists who somehow manage to overcome the ugliness of their situations. Winter People isn't quite the film that Winter's Bone is simply because of some strange editing in the third act (studio-driven would be my guess), but it is nevertheless a fine story.
Now, what is there to be learned from my little story of cinematic happenstance? Not much, probably, but you've got four movie recommendations (five, if you count The Dresser), and I have a new blog.
How about that?

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