Sunday, November 29, 2009

Family Horror Films

In between baking turkeys and pumpkin pies, and enjoying a really good football game between Stanford and Norte Dame, I decided to use up my Tower Theatre Movie-Lovers Pass to take in what could be contenders for Best Picture at the Oscars next year.
Both were about family, and dealing with situations that are scarier than Freddy Krueger, Jigsaw or Spiedi even trying to make a movie starring them.
They're also not exactly feel-good movies of the year, but are still worth your time.

The first is The Road, about a father and son trying to survive a post-apocalyptic road. Now, I have heard that it's very dark and depressing, but this isn't The Road Warrior. It's a realistic portrayal of how we'd revert back to being animals ten years after the world we know collapses in every way. Forget 2012, and its message of hope and convenient arks. This is what would really happen.
The cinematography is incredible, as it shows a world without animals, sunlight or hope. We see humans literally regress, and even resort to cannibalism. A Reaver would be sick to see something like this.

At the center of it all is the Man, played by Viggo Mortensen, and the Boy, sensitively played by Kodi-Smit-McPhee. They're trying to get to "the coast", hoping things will be better. The Man is just concerned about making sure they keep going. He's armed with a gun with only two bullets. It's used to defend themselves, but also as a last resort if they lose all hope. It's interesting the Boy has never known what the world was like before the disaster because he was born after it happened. He represents hope in a world that has none. He's there to make sure his dad doesn't lose his humanity.
Also, look for small but interesting roles by Charlize Theron and Robert Duvall. Even Garret Dillahunt, best known as Cromartie/John Henry on Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, is there. I didn't recognize him in the movie.
This is based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, also known for No Country For Old Men. It's a tough movie, but well worth your time.

As tweens and teens pack theaters showing the latest Twilight movie, their parents are checking out Precious, a movie that has received the seal of approval of Oprah Winfrey and several film festivals. Naturally, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. As most people know, it's about a pregnant 16-year old girl with a very difficult home life trying to survive. Again, it's a tough movie to see. The scenes between Gabourney Sibide and Monique are really tough. They play Precious and her mom Mary, respectively. Precious doesn't have a lot of ambitions because Mary makes sure she doesn't have any. All she cares about is that Precious go apply for welfare. She's very abusive, especially physically. Precious is also pregnant with her second her father...and still in junior high school.
When life gets too tough, Precious imagines herself living as a famous singer, or having a loving boyfriend. Those fantasies are much brighter that her harsh reality.

She finally gets help from a teacher an an alternative school. She's played by Paula Patton. While this part of the story may be a familiar plot to anyone who has seen similar movies, Patton does a great job as a woman who won't give up on anyone with potential. Inside the large downtrodden teenager, the teacher sees hope and potential.

When it first premiered in Los Angeles and New York, the movie houses were filled. he showing at the Tower was just about full as well, and I heard a lot of gasps from the crowd as the plot unfolded. Safe to say, Sibide and Monique are incredible as the mother and daughter, as in Patton.
You may have also heard Mariah Carey is in the movie, totally de-glamorized as Mrs. Weiss. She's also great here. If she wanted a movie career, she should have started with this rather than Glitter.

For the record, I will be looking for ligher fare are the parade of holidays movies starts its march. Up In The Air with George Clooney looks like a winner, and Disney's return to traditional animation, The Princess and the Frog, also looks like a winner only because in this version, one kiss won't be enough to solve everything (proof that they've learned something from Enchanted).

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