Sunday, March 20, 2011

Netflix Catchup

Brief takes:

An Education. A very well done period piece set in early 1960s England, with a great lead performance from Carey Mulligan, a 22-year old actress who is quite believable as Jenny, a precocious 16-year old. Based on a memoir by Lynn Barber with a script by Nick Hornby, the movie is a sharp observation of, and commentary on, the sexual mores of the day. The supporting cast, which includes Alfred Molina as Jenny’s strict father and Peter Sarsgaard as the slick “man of the world” stranger who becomes her suitor, is terrific. Jenny learns a lot of lessons over the course of the movie’s two hours, the most important of which is probably that a young English girl in her position at that time didn’t have many options, or many opportunities at a second chance. It’s well done, insightful, and entertaining.

Frida. When you see a film by Julie Taymor, you know it’s going to be a visual feast. “Frida” is no exception, which is only fitting since it tells the story of an artist and the colorful life she led. Not knowing much about Frida Kahlo’s life, I enjoyed it a great deal, and learned quite a bit. Salma Hayek is great in the title role, and Alfred Molina (again!) is very good as Diego Rivera. I’d also single out Roger Rees, quite good as Frida’s German father, and Geoffrey Rush as Leon Trotsky. All told, the film is an entertaining mix of history and bohemian artistry, and well worth the effort.

Invictus. I probably shouldn’t even comment on this one since I floated in and out of wakefulness during the film’s last 30 minutes or so, but I did enjoy the parts I saw. I think I’d pay just to hear Morgan Freeman read dialogue for two hours, so watching him play Nelson Mandela was a treat. The movie doesn’t give Matt Damon a whole lot to do, but he looks convincing as a rugby player. And I’m sure this mini-review has failed to do the film justice.

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