John Ostrander: Late To The Party
I’m not often the firstest with the mostest. Ask Mike Gold. I was resistant to getting a computer despite his urging until, of course, I got a computer. Then I was gung-ho (and remain so). Friends back in the day told me that I had to read Lord of the Rings. My reaction was – no, I don’t. Until, of course, I did read The Lord of the Rings and became a huge fan.
There’s a couple of movies that were like that for me. For whatever reason, I resisted looking at them while they were in the movies theaters. Later, I caught them (or part of them) on TV and then discovered I really liked them. I now own DVDs of these films (yes, I’m resistant also to Blu-Ray so far; we all know how that will end but I remain stubborn at the moment).
The first of these is Disney/Pixar’s Cars. You’d think I’d be first in line because I was (and largely still am) a big Pixar fan. Part of me still prefers 2D animation but Pixar absolutely won me over with its stories and characters and the wit of their scripts. But Cars just struck me as pandering to NASCAR (another cultural phenomenon to which I remain resistant) and I passed . . .until I saw it on TV.
D’oh! (Did I mention I was also resistant to The Simpsons for a long time?)
Cars is every bit as good as any other Pixar film and has a great cast. It has Paul Newman in his last performance, for crying out loud! Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Tony Shaloub, Cheech Marin, and George Freakin’ Carlin all contribute. It even has Tom and Ray Magliozzi from NPR’s Car Talk (highly appropriate but such a nice touch). The animation is first rate with some absolutely stunning backgrounds and a story that involves and tugs at the heart. Love the film and would have loved seeing it on the big screen )if I hadn’t been so danged snobbish and stubborn. That’ll teach me.
No, it won’t.
There’s also The Adjustment Bureau, adapted from the short story “Adjustment Team” by Phillip K. Dick, who has had a stellar record providing grist for Hollywood’s mill – Bladerunner, Minority Report, and Total Recall (twice) among others. It stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt and features Terrence Stamp (a favorite of mine). It’s odd that I missed it – I really like Matt Damon and would usually watch anything with him in it but this got mediocre to tepid reviews for the most part.
I can see why. There’s a cosmic plan involved and guys in dark suits and fedoras who may or may not be working for someone who may or may not be God. Possessing a fedora allows you to travel through certain doors and wind up in a different part of the city. Damon and Bloom play very star-crossed lovers whom the cosmic forces are trying to keep at bay. It all gets a little arcane and hard to swallon.
Damon and Blunt are terrific together. They have such a natural chemistry that, for me, it sells the film. I want these two people to be together no matter what cosmic forces decree they should not. So I bought the DVD.
Which leads me to another Matt Damon film, We Bought A Zoo, directed and co-written by Cameron Crowe. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, and a lovely supporting cast. It’s the story of a widower with two kids who ups and buys a struggling zoo and tries to renovate and re-open it. It sounded a little Hallmark Channel to me, especially the title.
My bad. I’ve gone through the grieving process for a spouse (albeit without children) and the film feels true to me, as does Damon’s performance. Again, great chemistry with his co-star, Scarlett Johansson. I’m leery of films that focus on kids and animals –they can come off cloying and/or annoying – but the children and the beasties come off very well. Again, I think the reviews were tepid and the title probably kept some viewers away (it kept me away). That’s unfortunate; I think many folks – like me – have discovered it since its initial release and enjoyed it.
There are other films that I ignored in their first release – Amelie comes to mind – that I discovered later. Thanks the powers hat be for DVD.
Or Blu-Ray. Which I’ll get around to owning.
MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell
TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten