At the movies. Again.

After a time when it seemed like it would never come, summer hit this week with all the subtlety of Snooki at a frat party. Six days of 30C+ degree weather was capped off by yesterday, when it hit 42C in the city (that’s 106F for the metrically challenged). Any thought of doing something productive with my Saturday vanished as I basically sat in front of the fan all day and tried to maintain consciousness. I stepped outside once to walk the dog, and it was like walking into a convection oven. Even down by the water it was oppressive.

But luckily I’ve been on a bit of a movie binge lately and earlier in the week I’d bought a ticket to see The Fighter. While I wasn’t all that excited to see the movie, the thought of sitting in an air conditioned environment for 120 minutes made me positively giddy. Even the 20 minutes on the pseudo-airconditioned bus sounded good.

This was my third movie in as many weeks. I saw The Black Swan first, a couple of weeks ago. The word I’d use to describe The Black Swan is ‘uncomfortable’. So many scenes made me squirm in my seat, or at least mentally squirm.

Natalie Portman was perfect as the repressed ballerina under her mother’s thumb, trying to make her way into the spotlight and out of the shadows. Barbara Hershey played her mother, and I spent most of the film going, ‘Who is that? She looks so familiar, I know I know her but…’ There was no glamour to her at all. No makeup and past her prime, she fully inhabited the skin of her character.

And Winona. I mean, she’s Winona. Her role wasn’t very much – she was pretty much either drunk, angry or unconscious (or some combination thereof) whenever she made one of her brief screen appearances, but she was perfect. Makes me feel incredibly old when Winona Ryder is playing a character that’s ‘over the hill’.

The only lead-ish character I didn’t like was the chick from That 70s Show. I’m sure she has a real name, and I’m sure her character has a name. But all I could think of her as was ‘the chick from That 70s Show’. She was good, but I just didn’t like her. /shrug

The cinematography was great – very gritty and grainy, which gave a great contrast to the perfection of the dancers and made it that much more difficult to determine what was real and what was not. I gave it 4 stars on Flixter.

Then last week I went to see True Grit. I went to see True Grit for three reasons: the Coen Brothers and Jeff Bridges. (Do you see what I did there?) I had bought my ticket knowing nothing more than that it was a Coen Bros movie, had Jeff Bridges in it and was a remake of the John Wayne movie. And that everybody raved about it. But when I finally saw a trailer, I was like “Oh…. It’s not looking like it’s Fargo-funny”. Which it wasn’t. But it was incredibly well written with great dialogue and amazing performances, particularly by the girl who played Maddie (amazingly self-possessed) and by The Dude. Jeff Bridges will always and forever be The Dude. He is just that fucking cool.

I gave True Grit 5 stars on Flixter. And while I think I ‘liked’ The Social Network better, I think True Grit is a better movie. It’s a true classic. The Social Network will always to some extent be a period piece and I think once we get to a time where audiences either a) grew up with Facebook or b) have only heard about Facebook or read about it in textbooks since it vanished from the scene, it won’t have the same resonance with audiences it does now. True Grit will always be great.

And so last night was The Fighter. I decided to go to see it because I wanted to go to the movies. Having been the previous two weeks, my weekend seemed to have this big gap in it because I had no movie I wanted to see. In fact, I remember explicitly saying once when the trailer came on that I would never see The Fighter because I hate boxing. But I wanted to go to the movies and it had gotten such good reviews that I booked a ticket. And I’m so glad I did.

Christian Bale was unbelievable – the physical transformation, his mannerisms. He WAS Dicky Eklund. They showed about 30 seconds of the actual Dicky Eklund and Micky Ward at the end of the movie, and you can tell he just nailed it. He says he’s not a method actor but in this case he seems to be. And it was amazing. If he doesn’t win the Oscar, I’m going to chuck shit at the screen again, just like I did when Gwynneth Paltrow beat Cate Blanchett (For ‘Shakespeare in Love’? Seriously? That put me off the Oscars *for years*…)

Mark Wahlberg was all hunky and broody, which was great, and Melissa Leo (who played their mother) was phenomenal.

As the movie wrapped up, I kept thinking ‘God, I hope he wins this fight…’. But then I realised it was a true story and I had no idea who actually won. It helped somehow, as I stopped trying to figure out if we were going to get a happy ending and just enjoyed the flick. I have to admit needing to turn my eyes away during some of the fight scenes, though. They were powerful and brutal and while Marky Mark, erm ‘Micky’, tried to explain how boxing was ‘like chess’ I just couldn’t see it.

I gave The Fighter 4 1/2 stars on Flixter. Even though I liked it just a little bit better than True Grit, again I think True Grit was the better movie. And even though I *loved* The Social Network, I’ll be cheering for True Grit to take Best Picture at the Oscars.

When I left the cinemas last night it was about 10.30 and it was still stinking hot – in the 30Cs/90Fs. But the cool change came through today and so I’m sitting out on my porch now, typing away on my laptop and enjoying the first cool breeze in what seems like an eternity.

Coming up on my ‘must see’ list are Conviction and Winters Bone, with both opening here the last Thursday in February. I’d say that I’m not going to the movies until then, but I have this horrible fear that I’m going to break down and go see No Strings Attached, with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. Maybe there’ll be another heat wave and I can use that as my excuse.

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