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Monday, January 08, 2007

Observations from a weekend of movie-watching

Cabin fever has been hovering just outside the screen door, waiting to pounce on me with a vengeance. Yet I've resisted getting out while I just try to get over this bad cold. I'm heading back out on the road again this month, including Indianapolis this week and Columbus next. I need to be rested and well (as I take a moment to slug some more green tea).

As my family prepared for yet another night of football on Saturday, I was finally fed up. "I'm going to see a movie," I declared.

"By yourself?"

"Yep. Because none of you want to see anything I'm interested in seeing."

I grabbed the movie section and perused the offerings at Crocker Park. Sadly, nothing said, "Must see! Must spend $8.50!" to me. Those I'm interested in seeing were at the Cedar Lee Theatre. But it was already 6:30 and I'd never make it east in time for the 7-ish shows. I wasn't up for the Rocky Horror crowd at the later shows.

Exasperated, I headed out to the video store. I said I was getting movies I wanted to watch and that they could all watch football in the basement. Heh!

Here are some brief observations on my selections.

British actor Jude Law made a surprisingly good Jack Burden in "All the King's Men." Though I have to say that no movie could ever compare with the mastery and complexity of Robert Penn Warren's book. It's one of my all-time favorites and must-reading for any history or literature geek.

As I was watching the DVD extras, which I always do after a movie, I noticed the guy who plays Sugar Boy looked very familiar. And then it dawned on me -- he's Kelly from the original "Bad News Bears." Thank God for wireless, I was able to check that little tidbit out while watching. And I was correct. Sugar Boy was played by Jackie Earle Haley, otherwise known as Kelly Leak.

"Capote" put me to sleep, literally. Philip Seymour Hoffman was great in his embodiment of the eccentric Truman Capote, but I found the story dragged along and I'm not really sure what the point of it was — that Capote changed writing? That covering such a tragedy nearly killed him (via the drink)? That it killed his writing? The movie looked good in its starkness, but I just didn't find it entertaining.

On a lark, and because I was so riveted by the movie back in high school, I rented "All the President's Men." First, the dialogue is so hushed that I had to jack up the volume to hear anything. While I still get a kick out of the process of reporting, I couldn't help but wonder, does anyone not involved in the profession really care? And how about the tediousness of finding people pre-Internet. I mean, Robert Redford as Bob Woodward is searching through various city White Pages looking for Kenneth Dalhberg. Imagine the time he'd save if he had Google. It was interesting to view the movie having read "Woodward and Bernstein: Life in the Shadow of Watergate" and learning the behind-the-scenes on the movie. But it all seems very quaint and dated in a way that other classics, ("Casablanca") do not.

The gem in my selection was "The Motorcycle Diaries," which follows a whimsical journey of Ernesto "Che" Guevara before he comes a Socialist icon. Ernesto and his friend Alberto Granado decide to take a break from all the book learning and discover Latin America on the back of a dilapidated motorcycle. Gael Garcia Bernal is luminous as a young, idealistic Ernesto. And his friend Alberto is downright playful as portrayed by Rodrigo de la Serna.

Their final stay at a leper colony along the Amazon River is a touching lesson in the potential beauty of humankind toward one another.

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