meet the new boss
happy birthday, geoff!

what i watched last week

Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989). #33 on my Facebook Fave Fifty list. #176 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of top 1000 films of all time.

Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972). #32 on my Facebook list. #273 on the TSPDT list.

Lost in America (Albert Brooks, 1985). Phil had this at #38 on his list. He and Jeff have given me some grief for assigning a rating of 6/10 to every one of their movies, so perhaps I should break that streak here. I liked this one, although I feel the opposite of Phil in some ways. He said he rarely watches comedies, but some scenes in Lost in America "bring me to tears I laugh so hard". I watch comedies on a fairly regular basis, although I don’t usually like them very much; I liked Lost in America, but I didn’t laugh very often. It reminded me of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but a friendlier version (and, of course, Brooks’ brother is a semi-regular on that show).

Country Strong (Shana Feste, 2010). You’ll be reminded of many other, better movies while watching Country Strong (most obviously, All About Eve and Nashville). Country Strong is an unambitious movie where actors are singers and the only real singer (Tim McGraw) doesn’t sing a note. Yet it’s not as bad as it sounds, and if it weren’t for an unfortunate melodramatic ending, I might have given it a higher rating. I was interested in seeing Garrett Hedlund, since I hadn’t seen him before and he’s Dean Moriarty in the upcoming On the Road … he’s fine, although I still have no idea how he’ll be as Dean. Gwyneth Paltrow inspires such hatred in people, and I don’t get it … part of me wants to shout, “be nice to Blythe Danner’s daughter!” She can do everything well, even if she’s not spectacular at anything (even her vaunted looks are more “prettiest girl I’ve seen” than “the most beautiful woman of all time”). Oddly enough, despite using actors as musicians, Country Strong treats the music with more respect than, say, Nashville, a far more ambitious (and vastly better) film that nonetheless didn’t bother to get actors who could actually, you know, sing. Paltrow, Hedlund, and Leighton Meester do fine; if they aren’t exactly Miranda Lambert, they’re a lot better than Henry Gibson singing “200 Years.” Too bad the movie isn’t much.



I have met so many people in my life (older than me) who are fanatics about "Lost in America" in a way I could never understand. After repeated recommendations from others, I rented it when I was in high school and I just didn't get it--and mind you, I was always a little older in my outlook and a huge fan of the 70s generation of comedy guys like Albert Brooks were a part of. When I watched it again in college, and again sometime in the late 90s, I just concluded that it must be something about this movie at the moment at which it came out for the generation of people reflected in it (boomers).

Steven Rubio

Perhaps it's the ending, wherein the Brooks character capitulates to his pre-ordained role as white-collar drone. Among the things that might connect with Boomers: the couple are both working in good jobs that are stifling; they hit the road, Easy Rider-style; the realities of life without the big paychecks drives them back to "real" jobs. Boomers tend to exaggerate their own experiences beyond their generation into something universal, of course ... it's one of our most annoying tendencies. Basically, these folks take a very expensive vacation aimed at recreating an imagined past, then reject that past for their better-paying present. A Boomer watching this might see their own lives justified in the events of the film.

What I think raises the movie over what you might have thought of it is that I sense Brooks is aware of all of this. He's making a satire, even if some folks in the audience don't get it.

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