It’s my birthday! Well, it is as I write this on November 8. My wonderful agent sends me roses every year, and this year they’re the color of sunrise. (That’s actually sunset in the background, off my deck.) Anyone know what variety these might be?
We’ve had lots going on lately, and when my cowboy asked a week or so ago what I’d like to do to celebrate this particularly significant number of years I’ve been enjoying sunrises and sets, I said I wanted to take in a few movies. If it’s something good—a big screen picture with a good script and a great cast—I like to go to the theater, sit in the dark with my date, eat popcorn, hold hands and watch from previews all the way through credits. And this is generally the best time of year for my kind of movie. For my birthday I get to choose a bunch. Everything I’ve been waiting to see. We’ve taken in four so far, and they’ve all been good. All different, but they all had my requirements in common: good writing, characters, cast. I recommend all four—Seven Psychopaths, Argo, The Master, and Flight.
In Seven Psychopaths, a screen writer played by Collin Farrell is late on a deadline, and all he has so far is the title. When his ne’er-do-well friend (Sam Rockwell) sets out to hook him up with real psychopaths to help him get ideas, our blocked writer finds himself embroiled in a dog-napping scam with Christopher Walken as the lovable dog-napper and Woody Harrelson as the mobster whose beloved dog is stolen. I adore good satire, and this one is aimed at Hollywood and lots more. I laughed myself silly. If you like the dark humor of In Bruge (Colin Farrell along with the same writer-director—I loved it) this movie’s for you. And if you didn’t, no matter. In Bruge wasn’t hubby’s cuppa, but “Seven Psychopaths” had him laughing along with me. Oh, and don’t walk out on the credits. There are still laughs to be had.
Flight is a whole different ballgame. Intense from the get go. You’ve seen the upside-down airliner cruising inches above rooftops in the trailer. That scene comes early, and it’s quite a ride. This is the story of flawed hero, and the script is phenomenal. You have one kind of tension in the first half hour and another throughout the rest of the movie. A smart, skilled, egotistical but basically caring man struggles with his own demons. Classic, complete with spiritual overtones and a powerful ending. This is the kind of drama I can sink my teeth into—layers, depth, no easy answers, infinite shades of gray. Surrounded by an excellent cast, Denzel Washington is superb.
The last movie on my my birthday list—Lincoln, with Daniel Day Lewis—comes out next week, and we’ll hit the first day matinee. And then there’s Brooklyn Castle, a documentary about a terrific chess team from a struggling junior high school. Has anyone seen it? If I missed it, I’ll rent it. We don’t hear enough about public school success stories and the hard-working teachers who make them happen.
What’s the best thing you’ve seen on the big silver screen lately? How about the small grey screen?
Remember: anyone who comments on our Riders blog between now and November 22nd will be eligible to win our Thanksgiving Goodies Basket. We’ll be giving away a veritable cornucopia of books and fun stuff to one U.S. resident plus ebooks etc. to an international reader.