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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Oscar Talk 2013 Pt 5 The Picks

Sarah and Doug put Triangle Movie Talk on the line this year with our 2013 Oscar Picks. There is the usual discussion and, for those of you scoring at home, we have bolded in the actual picks for easy reference. A few things we clearly establish is that Flight being nominated for writing might be the single worst nomination in Academy history, Doug is a little too in love with the technical prowess of Life of Pi, and Sarah needs to get a t shirt made up that says “It’s Lincoln’s To Lose”.

Doug: Right off the bat, Best Picture is tough… Damn!

Sarah: I think we think it’s Lincoln’s to lose. And it could lose, if some of these others split the vote.

Doug: And by “others”, we’re saying you’ve got Lincoln, Silver Linings, Argo, and Life of Pi?

Sarah: You have to put Zero Dark Thirty in there, too. It’s a good category. Even Django could get some votes. Maybe we shouldn’t start the picks with Best Picture. Maybe this one is too hard.

Doug (laughs): We’ve got to pick it at some point. I’m gonna pick… Crap. Maybe I’ll narrow it down to Lincoln and Argo. Life of Pi, I don’t think, ultimately has quite enough of a following. And Silver Linings doesn’t quite have…

Sarah: The weight?

Doug: There’s the Affleck factor. Aw, hell, I’m going to pick Lincoln.

Sarah: I do still think it’s Lincoln’s to lose. I don’t see how the others pull it off. So, we’re both going Lincoln. Do we want to name dark horses or underdogs?

Doug: Well, why don’t we just make it clear that it’s an unbelievably tight race this year where any number of movies could win.

BEST PICTURE       Sarah: Lincoln                Doug: Lincoln

Sarah: OK, Actor In a Leading Role.

Doug: Come on, right? I’ll let you say it.

Sarah: Daniel Day-Lewis.

Doug: DDL.

Sarah: Do we need to even discuss this?

Doug: Nope.

Sarah: Done.

BEST ACTOR        Sarah: Daniel Day-Lewis         Doug: Daniel Day-Lewis

Sarah: Actor In a Supporting Role.

Doug: Here we go. It could be any of four people. Let’s eliminate Alan Arkin.

Sarah: And I don’t really think Robert De Niro has a chance, but only because of the other three nominees. I mean, look at the other three.

Doug: Uh, oh. I was actually thinking about picking De Niro. It’s De Niro, he hasn’t won in a while?

Sarah: I know we’re picking who we think will win, not who we think should win. If I had the ability to cast a vote, it would be Hoffman or Waltz in this category.

Doug: I’m in complete agreement with that.

Sarah: But I think Tommy Lee Jones is going to take it.

Doug: Which is funny, because my initial reaction is that it’s a Jones vs De Niro showdown. And I’m going to go with De Niro. And you’re going Tommy Lee Jones?

Sarah: I’m going Tommy Lee Jones.

Doug: Alright, you could pick up the key point in this category. T.L. Jones is a good pick. I could regret this one.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR      Sarah: Tommy Lee Jones      Doug: Robert De Niro

Sarah: Actress In a Leading Role. You could really flip a coin on this one.

Doug: Wow, it’s another tough one. Are we going as many as three ways on this one, no raciness intended?

Sarah: Don’t you think it’s coming down to Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence?

Doug: You’re right. I was thinking that Emmanuelle Riva for Amour could sneak in there, too. And it’s such a bad way to think about things, but she is quite a bit older, and she could have the whole “last chance” thing going on for her. But I’m picking Jennifer Lawrence here. You’ve convinced me on the greatness of Chastain’s performance, but I’m still going Lawrence.

Sarah: We’ve discussed before that the Academy has a tendency to undervalue subtlety in performances. Again, I would vote for Jessica Chastain if I had a vote, but I think I’m going to surprise you a bit on this one and say that the voters will swing for Jennifer Lawrence.

Doug: Hmmm. OK.

BEST ACTRESS         Sarah: Jennifer Lawrence     Doug: Jennifer Lawrence

Sarah: Actress In a Supporting Role.

Doug: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve covered this one a ton already. We love Amy Adams, we want Amy Adams, and Amy Adams is going to get 2% of the vote, if she’s lucky. Anne Hathaway wins this one.

Sarah: Yup. And it’s going to be disappointing.

Doug: A little disappointing. But even though she doesn’t have a whole heap of screen time, Anne Hathaway was pretty amazing in Les Mis. All of these categories have a lot of deserving nominees this year. So, there might be some disappointment, but I do think she deserves it. They should hand out multiple trophies on some of these.

Sarah: It’s true. How about if Paul Thomas Anderson just gives his own award to Amy Adams for saving his movie. And speaking of The Master, Philip Seymour Hoffman being in the Best Supporting category instead of Best Actor is pretty annoying.

Doug: That is annoying. We’re going Anne Hathaway here, I take it?

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS      Sarah: Anne Hathaway      Doug: Anne Hathaway

Sarah: What are we going to skip to next? Do we want to do Animated Feature?

Doug: Sure.

Sarah: My best guess is Wreck It Ralph to win this one.

Doug: That was easy. That’s what I would go with. But you’ve pointed out what a good year it was for animated films, or “cartoons” as I call them. I might lean more toward Frankenweenie if it hadn’t espoused the theory that said don’t make your kids play sports, because if you do you’re just going to end up causing their dog to get run over.

Sarah (laughs): I’m not sure that’s the whole lesson I took from it, but I was OK with that lesson. Let’s celebrate the little artists and scientists.

Doug: I’m on your side. And, remember, if you’re a kid and you play sports your dog is toast unless you can electrocute him and bring him back to life.

Sarah: I also liked the message in that one that says parents aren’t always right.

Doug: You should always follow your own heart. It’s a great message. OK, so Wreck It Ralph wins for Animated Feature.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE      Sarah: Wreck It Ralph         Doug: Wreck It Ralph

Sarah: Let’s do Cinematography next. Life of Pi, probably. I think maybe I’ll go Skyfall, though, because I think it should win something.

Doug: Do it, do it. It will give me a chance to pick up a cheap point on you.

Sarah: Just kidding. Life of Pi.

CINEMATOGRAPHY         Sarah: Life of Pi           Doug: Life of Pi

Sarah: Costume Design?

Doug: Costume design? Really?

Sarah: It’s got to be Les Mis or Anna Karenina. I kind of suspect Anna Karenina will win.

Doug: Alright, you want to both pick Anna Karenina?

Sarah: Sounds good.

COSTUME DESIGN         Sarah: Anna Karenina       Doug: Anna Karenina

Sarah: Best Director!!!

Doug: Oh, boy!!!

Sarah: It’s another tough one.

Doug: I can see an argument for everyone on this list to win except probably the Beasts guy.

Sarah: Yeah, probably. Although I don’t know that Ang Lee can pull it off.

Doug: That disappoints me. But I agree that I’m not sure he will win. We’ve talked this one over quite a bit, and we’re on the same page, but he did so much as a director.

Sarah: The skill he had to bring to creating such a beautiful, well done movie out of such a pretty thin story was amazing.

Doug: You pointed out that he brought two distinct skill sets, and you could probably say it’s more like three. The technical stuff, the guiding of the actors and putting an almost imaginary vision up on the screen.

Sarah: I hope Ang Lee gets the proper credit for all that, but I’m not sure it’s going to result in the trophy.

Doug: So, who do we go with? Are we going to cop out and just go Spielberg.

Sarah: I do think on some of these larger categories, it’s Lincoln’s to lose. Maybe the math could work out where the vote gets split so much that one of the others wins.

Doug: they’re definitely splitting the vote. Part of me is sort of bothered by the idea that in some of these categories, somebody can walk away with an Academy Award with as little as, say, 25% of the vote. I wonder sometimes if it might be better if they’d keep doing ballots until somebody has at least 50%.

Sarah (laughing): You’re advocating for a runoff election for the Academy Awards?

Doug: Let’s have runoff elections. I understand that the winners of these things aren’t going to be running the country after their victories, but it might be nice to see a winner who gets more votes. Anyway, I am going to be ticked off when I pick Spielberg to win as a safety pick and Ang Lee ends up winning…

Sarah: Pick Ang Lee. Pick Ang Lee. Do it.

Doug: Is it more important for me to go with what I really want, or is it more important for me to defeat you in the contest?

Sarah: That’s the question that you have to ask yourself.

Doug: You have to ask yourself the same question, you know. Is victory more important…

Sarah: Victory, in itself, is not so much important to me. But being right is pretty important to me. It’s not just beating you that’s important, it’s just being correct.

Doug: Aw, such a nice thing to say. So, you’d be happy if we both got everything right?

Sarah: Sure. You can do what I’ve been doing and say you’d vote for Ang Lee if you had the vote, but you’re picking Spielberg.

Doug: But I really think Ang Lee has a shot. Dammit, I’m going Spielberg. Are you going Spielberg?

Sarah: I’m going Spielberg.

BEST DIRECTOR      Sarah: Steven Spielberg      Doug: Steven Spielberg

Sarah: How about Film Editing next?

Doug: I always like the editing category. Looking at the list, I’d say it has to come down to Argo or Zero Dark Thirty.

Sarah: I was thinking Zero Dark would be in there. The last sequence of Argo was really well done, and that was mostly down to editing. But, overall, I find myself leaning toward Zero Dark Thirty.

Doug: I’m leaning toward Argo. I’m not sure I thought it was a great film, but I do think the movie was pretty skillfully put together. There were a fair number of mood changes in it, and the editing handled it all really nicely. I think I’ll go Argo here. You’re Zero Dark?

Sarah: Zero Dark Thirty for me.

FILM EDITING       Sarah: Zero Dark Thirty          Doug: Argo

Sarah: Where do we go next?

Doug: I’ll let you choose. Whatever you’d like to take a shot at, I’m in.

Sarah: How about we take a guess at Production Design?

Doug: I think this could be another somewhat technical category that Life of Pi could win. I’m going to go Life of Pi. You had some pretty amazing production designs going on in Lincoln, Les Mis. Impressive period looks in both of those. But, I stick with Life of Pi.

Sarah: OK, well just to be different then, I’m going to throw it to The Hobbit.

Doug: Good one. Part of me can roll with the theory that says if something like The Hobbit just gets the one nomination, maybe there’s a reason for it in that category.

Sarah: I’m throwing a bone to The Hobbit.

PRODUCTION DESIGN        Sarah: The Hobbit        Doug: Life of Pi

Sarah: Do we want to do Sound Editing next?

Doug: Like I said, I’m in for whatever.

Sarah: OK, f*&k it. I’m throwing it to Skyfall. We’ve got to get a win somewhere for Skyfall.

Doug: I have no idea, so I’ll just pick the same. To use your lingo, f*&k it.

SOUND EDITING      Sarah: Skyfall       Doug: Skyfall

Sarah: Do you want to go Visual Effects next?

Doug: If Life of Pi is on there, I’ll go with it.

Sarah: Life of Pi is on there.

Doug: I’m going with it. Anything that has to do with appearance or technical aspects, just put me down for Life of Pi.

Sarah: I love the fact that The Avengers at least gets a mention in this category, but I’ll go Life of Pi here, too.

VISUAL EFFECTS     Sarah: Life of Pi       Doug: Life of Pi

Sarah: Alright, the writing categories. Adapted Screenplay. Another strong category.

Doug: A strong category, but I probably feel more strongly that Lincoln will win here than I do about any of the other categories we’ve picked, other than DDL for Best Actor.

Sarah: Yeah, you’re right, it’s Lincoln. If I’m saying it’s Lincoln’s to lose on all of these categories, why should I change here.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY     Sarah: Lincoln       Doug: Lincoln

Sarah: Original Screenplay? I know your pick is going to be Flight, right?

Doug (laughs pretty uncontrollably): At least where on the same page on that. I like it when there’s at least one thing that we agree unequivocally on. The writing in that movie was so bad that it was offensive, was it not?

Sarah: Yes, I finally saw it, and it was just incredibly bad. It didn’t even rise to after school special levels of quality.

Doug: Oh, yeah, the writing wasn’t as good as what you’d see in after school special. You know the writing in a movie is bad when the least offensive part of it is the plane flying upside down. I mean, I serious doubt that physics would allow it to be possible to fly a plane upside down, but the plane flying upside down scenes still rang more true than pretty much anything else in there. Yup, not as good as an after school special. At least with an after school special, you’re usually watching it when you’re 11 years old.

Sarah: Maybe Flight was meant for 11 year olds.

Doug: Flight couldn’t win the screenwriting Oscar even if the Academy voters are all 11 year olds.

Sarah: Just really, really, really bad. Let’s focus on the good stuff in this category. Because there’s a lot of it. Incredible writing from Wes Anderson in Moonrise Kingdom, as is so often the case with a Wes Anderson movie. I really kind of want Moonrise to win here, but it’s probably too far under the radar.

Doug: This might be one that Michael Haneke could win. Amour will probably only win for Best Foreign Language Film. But Haneke gets a ton of respect for the depth and themes of his movies, and this could well be a category that he gets recognized for. I get the sense that, while I thought it was great, some felt that Django didn’t rise to Tarantino’s accustomed levels.

Sarah: I thought it rose to Tarantino’s normal levels. A lot of mention has been made that the original script for Django would have produced a 5 hour movie, so there’s that. But I thought it was well done.

Doug: Yeah, the criticism of this one is that he didn’t take enough out. I don’t necessarily agree, but that’s the criticism, if there is one.

Sarah: He does clearly love his own stuff. My question is how much other good stuff was there. Did he pick the best stuff to leave in? I had read that Tarantino had offered Don Johnson a choice of about 5 or 6 characters that were in the original draft of the screenplay. Apparently, Don Johnson picked Big Daddy as the one he wanted to play because he felt that Big Daddy would never get cut, while some of the other roles could get cut. It just gives you an idea for how monstrous the original script must have been.

Doug: And that’s interesting, because while the bumbling KKK scene was certainly Tarantino-esque, you could argue that it didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the movie. It was almost too farcical compared with the rest of the film. As a stand alone section of the movie, it certainly is funny, though. Zero Dark Thirty has some really good journalistic style writing in it. But, can you give a writing award to a movie that hinges on the journalism style when you’re questioning the authenticity of some of it?

Sarah: The writing category is often the category where they sort of go for the more offbeat movies. This is a really tough category. I would hope Moonrise could get in there as the offbeat choice this year. But it’s been so long since it’s been out. And maybe Zero Dark and Django might have taken over in the writing category.

Doug: Something tells me that the offbeat thing to do in this category this year is to vote for Amour, which is probably the least offbeat of all the nominees for writing. A pretty universal theme, the difficulties with the end of life. I have a sneaky feeling about Amour. If Django wins, I can still say, “I told you so.” But I’m going to go out on a limb on this one and go with Amour.

Sarah: So, you’re going Amour? It bums me out that Moonrise Kingdom probably can’t win. I don’t buy that Haneke can win for Amour. I think it comes down to Tarantino versus Mark Boale for Zero Dark Thirty. I’m going with Tarantino.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY        Sarah: Quentin Tarantino      Doug: Michael Haneke

 

 

 

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Oscar Talk 2013 Pt 4 The Lovefest

In part 4 of this year’s Oscar Talk, Sarah and Doug gush a bit over the respective greatness of Life of Pi and Jessica Chastain.

Sarah: So, let’s try to save you from the last conversation where you were the cranky old fuddy duddy. You did like Life of Pi, so I have to give you credit.

Doug: I loved Life of Pi. I’m a Life of Pi guy. Yeah, let’s talk about it. I’m sure some of the sappy and simple criticisms I have for Silver Linings are the same ones you could make for Life of Pi. It’s interesting that a movie that was so fully focused on religion specifically, and not just general spirituality, has been so well received by critics. Pi may have jumped around in his religious preferences, but he still took from specific ones and used religion in a positive way to sort of get him through.

Sarah: He was certainly committed to the idea that there is a God, and that God was responsible for a lot of what was going on, including him surviving.

Doug: Right. And he also used the dogmas of a lot of religions, to work a Kevin Smith movie reference in, which we always have to do.

Sarah: Always have to work Kevin Smith in, that’s right. As far as the theme of the movie, he was definitely using the teachings of all of these religions, and clearly talking to God throughout the movie, and acknowledging the consistent themes of all the religions he was learning from.

Doug: I think you still have that subset of people that is a little anti religion, and so the popularity of this movie to a more liberal group of people is interesting.

Sarah: I get that, but for me the movie was more inspiring on a purely human level, just his own ability to survive. I loved the way the movie had Pi using his own imagination to craft a scenario in his mind that he could live with as he was trying to survive out on the ocean. It was more about the power of imagination, for me, than about the power of religion.

Doug: I agree with that. I think I’m sort of wondering if a movie that so explicitly and, really, sort of matter of factly and simply acknowledges the good that religion can do for people and the comfort it can provide can win for Best Picture. And I realize I just massively stereotyped Hollywood.

Sarah: And I’m not so sure it deserves to win for Best Picture, anyway. I found it enjoyable and a very beautiful movie to look at. But I think you probably found it much more moving than I did.

Doug: Yeah, probably. What, for me, raises Life of Pi to another level is all the inspirational themes we’ve been talking about plus it was so incredibly cool looking. And really groundbreaking. Maybe not groundbreaking, but this film will be studied by film makers for the right ways to use 3D.

Sarah: The visuals are amazing. And, as we’ve talked about before, I could easily live with Ang Lee winning best director. Because on top of the incredible use of 3D, there’s not really anything there except a dude and a boat.

Doug: Yeah, it was almost more like a play brought to life.

Sarah: And that had to be a real, true vision from the director, and an ability from his actor, Suraj Sharma, to react to that vision. It could have been really terrible.

Doug: And the whole “older Pi” narrating the story for the journalist was super contrived, and that also could have gone horribly wrong. But Irrfan Khan was so good, and he had such a synergy with Suraj Sharma as “younger Pi”. It’s very rare when I see a movie that has the younger/older dynamic where they actually seem like the same person. Here, they absolutely seemed like the same person.

Sarah: They definitely seemed like the same person. The suggestion at the end of the movie that there could have been alternate stories was really driven home by Khan as “older Pi”.

Doug: And Khan as “older Pi”, to use a fancy word, had an absolute gravitas that resulted from his life experience. He seemed wiser than a normal guy. He came out of this experience, and he really gets life. It was cool.

Sarah: I’m certainly not going to knock Life of Pi, and Ang Lee deserves a whole lot of credit for bringing that vision to the screen.

Doug: Director has to be between Spielberg and Ang Lee. If Spielberg wins, you’re not going to be able to say anything bad about it. Michael Haneke isn’t going to win, but Amour will win Best Foreign Language, if for no other reason than that nobody’s heard of any of the other nominated foreign language films.

Sarah: It’s true. Maybe Emmanuelle Riva will get a nod for Best Actress for Amour.

Doug: There seems to be some buzz for that, but I think that one goes to Jennifer Lawrence.

Sarah: I’m putting it out there that Jessica Chastain was great. She had a sort of unemotional character to play in Zero Dark Thirty. And we’ve talked before about how I tend to give more credit to the more subtle performances, and how I think they’re often harder to play. But she also had some really emotional moments in there, too. And she plays those just right.

Doug: She did play them just right. I’m not sure I can put my finger on why I think Jennifer Lawrence should win instead of Jessica Chastain. We’re talking about two awesome performances. There were tiny, tiny moments where I didn’t always find Chastain believable. And, again, I can’t put my finger on when they were. So, if I can’t give examples, I should probably just shut up about it. Chastain was incredible, Lawrence was incredible. I’ll be happy if either one of them wins. Jessica Chastain over the last couple of years has had just an unreal run. Compare the role she gets nominated for this year in Zero Dark Thirty, as real and gritty a character as you can play, with the role she was nominated for last year. I mean, in Tree of Life, she barely had any lines. She was playing almost more a concept than an actual person.

Sarah: Yeah, gosh, I forgot that was her. And she’s fully three dimensional in Zero Dark Thirty. It was interesting because she was often so unemotional. The character was clearly designed to come off as abrasive at times. But yet she had to also play the character as being cool at times, but having the passion and the emotion come flying out at certain times. Her character was often, to be kind, an unpersonable person. And she had to pull that off.

Doug: Like you say, Chastain’s was a full performance. One of my favorite moments of her performance was when she had to convince Edgar Ramirez as the head of the surveillance team to do what she needed to do as far as tracking Bin Laden’s messenger. Ramirez was set on not having the man power to do it, and not believing in Chastain’s hunches. Chastain had tried the abrasive, and she quickly spun into the softer, human connection. She brings him a beer, reasons with him, connecting and getting him to do what she needed him to do through another method. It was a great moment of acting, I thought. Hey, you’ve convinced me on Chastain. Lawrence. Chastain. It’s a tie.

Sarah: I don’t know who they’ll go for in the end, but for me the sort of balls out performances like Jennifer Lawrence’s in Silver Linings are a little easier to pull off, so I give a lot of credit to what Jessica Chastain did.

Doug: It’s a little bit apples and oranges when you put it like that. You sort of wish you could give them both…

Sarah: Split ‘em up.

Doug: There’s going to be a lot of crap to have to live with in the acting categories. Best Supporting Actress, I am perfectly fine with Anne Hathaway winning, and she surely is going to win. But we have both clearly staked our lot with how much we loved Amy Adams.

Sarah: Yeah.

Doug: Best Supporting Actor, same thing. Christoph Waltz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, freakin’ De Niro? Come on.

Sarah: If I was going with the one I would want to win, it would be Christoph Waltz. But Philip Seymour Hoffman is pretty much the main thing that makes The Master even watchable. He pretty much had to carry that film. And the fact that he’s in the Best Supporting category instead of straight Best Actor seems sort of dumb.

 

Oscar Talk 2013 Pt 3 The Discovery

In part 3 of this year’s Oscar convos, Sarah and Doug make their peace (sort of) with Zero Dark Thirty, Sarah reveals (maybe) her favorite of the Best Picture nominees, and Doug is revealed (or not) as possibly being a cranky party pooper.

Doug: Well, I don’t think either of us has gotten in the right mood to watch Amour yet.

Sarah: It does seem to be a bit of a downer, although I did read a review of it in Rolling Stone. Of course, I don’t know if it ever really played around here.

Doug: More curses to the demise of the beloved Galaxy Theater. It’s a tough one to say you’re just going to sit down and mindlessly watch it on a Saturday. Being subtitled, you actually have to…

Sarah: Pay attention to it? Well, to keep the Zero Dark Thirty conversation going, I read an interesting article with Kathryn Bigelow and the writer guy, whatever his name is.

Doug: Mark Boale?

Sarah: Sure. Well done, Doug. Anyway, they were saying what we were talking about, that the Maya character wasn’t one person, but for Boale he wanted to make the character a woman because there were so many women involved in the process that he wanted to emphasize that. He said he was struck by just how many women were in a lead role during the search for Bin Laden. And also, they were saying how originally the movie was going to be about a failed attempt to capture Bin Laden in Afghanistan, but in the middle of scouting for locations they got him. So they had to basically start all over.

Doug: Yeah, I had seen that. Kathryn Bigelow was sort of like, crap, this is one of the biggest stories of our generation. We get the guy, so who’s going to want to see the movie about us not getting him? Like you said, start it all over.

Sarah: I also saw Kathryn Bigelow on Stephen Colbert addressing the torture conversation. She was saying that the point of the movie was that they didn’t get the key information from torture, that they ended up getting the key information out of a file, and that information had been there all along. Which is interesting, because I wouldn’t think the connection would have been made to the “found” file without the information that got about the Bin Laden messenger guy from some of the tortured people in the beginning of the movie. Seemed like Kathryn Bigelow was putting forth a pretty liberal interpretation of her own movie.

Doug: Hmmm. I see what you’re saying. It seemed to me that the movie was trying to throw out the idea that a lot of pieces of information came from a lot of different places and through several different methods. And, on top of it all, some of the key breaks came through pure luck. A lot of a viewer’s interpretation, I think, is exactly how much information the viewer thinks certain methods actually produced. But I definitely didn’t think the movie was trying to say that torture had nothing to do with it, I agree with you on that.

Sarah: And Kathryn Bigelow’s point was that they were absolutely not trying to make the case for the detainee program. They only wanted to acknowledge that the program took place, so they couldn’t just ignore it. Which I think is probably pretty fair.

Doug: We’ve talked a lot about Zero Dark Thirty in our conversations. And I’ve kind of softened up on the whole over analysis of the politics of it. I enjoyed the movie a lot and, as for the torture, yeah would it have been better if they had just pretended it never happened?

Sarah: And that’s kind of what Bigelow and Boale were saying. They were saying they had to acknowledge the detainee program’s existence. Now I will say that I thought they put an awful lot of emphasis on it in the movie, and I thought maybe they put too much emphasis on it. But I guess if, at the end of the day, their point was to start a conversation about the detainee program and how long it lasted, etc, I’d probably say that the way they handled it in the movie was probably as good a way as any.

Doug: One problem is that in a movie like that, the amount of screen time you give to any one method used to get information at least gives the suggestion to how important the film makers thought each method was. So, when they come out after the fact and make their arguments, it doesn’t make the arguments invalid, but what they put on the screen is what they put on the screen. At times, the movie got a little bit unfocused and the viewer was left lurching around a little bit as to what methods were producing what. Even the politics that were going on, the changing tides against the detainee program and whatnot. They were touched on, but they weren’t always focused on quite as clearly as I thought they could have been.

Sarah: Although the one scene where the male agent decided he needed to go home, and he was talking about the changing politics, and he said, “Be careful, you don’t want to be the last one holding the dog collar.” That was pretty telling there.

Doug: That’s a good point. And, to be fair, while I would have liked a little more detail here and there, it’s still a movie and you still have to have some dramatic license. I doubt, for example, that the “found” file happened exactly like that, with some low level staffer finding something in the back of a file cabinet. But something like that surely happened, so if it’s not portrayed exactly correctly, it’s fine. So, if Bigelow and Boale want to say they weren’t endorsing any one method, I buy it. I felt like the movie threw it all up against the wall and said, there’s no real science to this. You take the information and find it any way you can. But, hey, in the end I still like the movie the same. It was very good, not at the tip top of my list, though.

Sarah: I’m with you, it was a very good thriller, if nothing else.

Doug: I’ve been bumming a bit that The Dark Knight Rises didn’t get more end of year and awards love. We’ve talked about how good a year 2012 was, so I get it, but Dark Knight was right up there as one of my top 3 of the year. But it’s not on the Oscar list, so I don’t want to go off too much about it.

Sarah: It was certainly better than Les Miserables. But alright to you on your Dark Knight love.  Let’s talk some Silver Linings Playbook. This isn’t the weightiest of movies, but as far as just being an enjoyable film, it’s right up there for me. You definitely feel good when you leave the movie theater. And of all the Best Picture nominees, that’s probably the only true feel good movie on the list. You’re not skipping and whistling out of too many of the others.

Doug: I’m with you on that. None of the other movies have the champagne wishes and caviar dreams feel that Silver Linings has. You can’t say it’s not a nice feeling movie. You might say it’s a little too cotton candyish in the way it deals with some pretty serious issues. That is, if you want to overanalyze, as I often do.

Sarah: The problem was more how neatly tied up the story was at the end. I don’t think you can say David O. Russell treated mental illness too cavalierly, though. He never made any light of any of these serious problems.

Doug: Definitely. Not only did he not make light of bipolar disorder, he correctly pointed out that these are all just regular folks. And also that every single one of us have our own issues. Every character in that film had strong issues of their own. But every single character, including the two leads, were treated super respectfully and not judged or used as a comedy bit at all.

Sarah: Right, the leads certainly had mental illnesses, and have been treated for it. But the characters around them were often presented in much less favorable lights, which made the case that we’re all dealing with things. We’re always figuring out how to manage.

Doug: All those parts of it, I liked a lot. The thing that made it fall just short of great for me was how tidy everything was wrapped up at the end. Which is ironic, since the feel good stuff is usually right up my alley. We’ve all got complications in our lives…

Sarah: Your “people are complicated” line that you say a lot. The bottom line is I, and most of the people I’ve talked to about this movie, left the theater feeling really good.

Doug: If you want to see a movie and leave the theater feeling good, which is a pretty good reason to see a movie, maybe Silver Linings is tops on the Best Picture list. Are you saying that Silver Linings is your favorite on the list.

Sarah: It’s probably the one I enjoyed the most on the list.

Doug: Now, let’s talk about this. Because when we saw Lincoln, it was us and all of you political folks in the group we saw it with. And, I liked it, but when we were in the theater, I’m thinking that you guys are going to be all over this movie. You political wonks are going to see this as straight up red meat. So, did you like Silver Linings better than Lincoln?

Sarah: Yes. Spoiler alert, Lincoln gets shot. So, Lincoln is not exactly ending on a true, feel good note.

Doug: And you don’t really get to see the results of this momentous political victory.

Sarah: Right. Lincoln was certainly inspirational in a lot of ways, but it wasn’t feel good by any stretch. The doggedness, the speeches, the people that really wanted to see this get done were all really inspirational.

Doug: In those ways, I thought it was almost less inspirational than it was just a really great procedural.

Sarah: For sure in showing how it all got done, it was very procedural. For me, the putting your head down, wanting to get something done, and getting it done was very inspirational. In the middle of the Civil War, they win these political victories. It was the end of slavery, the granting of rights to an entire group of people who had been denied them…

Doug: Oh my gosh, how much of a jerk do I look like now for saying it wasn’t so much inspirational. I mean, when you put it like that!!! I guess it was pretty inspirational.

Sarah (laughing): I just thought I’d correct you on that, Doug.

Doug: You’ve now called me out to all the readers of Triangle Movie Talk as a non-feeling jerk.

Sarah (laughing some more): Yeah, you didn’t really like Silver Linings Playbook as much as you should have, you’re not fully inspired by Lincoln, you’re really starting to become a downer.

Doug: I’m supposed to be the Candyland, everything is always supposed to be happy and work out guy, and I…

Sarah: What’s going on over there, you getting cynical on me?

Doug: I’m becoming cranky, cantankerous old guy over here. Lincoln? Bah, humbug. What’s inspirational about that?

Sarah: It’s just a procedural.

Doug: And Silver Linings? Two people who have faced super hard periods in their lives and fall in love in a heart-warming way? Don’t try to get me to buy that.

Sarah: I’ll dig you out of the hole, because I know you really liked Life of Pi.

Doug: I loved Life of Pi. And thank you for bailing me out. So, let’s talk about it next time.

 
 
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