movie review(s)

Posted at Feb 7, 2010 12:21 pm

I think I’ll start with the movie I saw last night (Up in the Air) and then progress slowly and carefully to the movie I saw last week (Avatar).
The first, a Goorge Clooney film about a jet-setting, "fire -for-hire" expert was just nominated for an Oscar.  Although I can’t see it winning over Avatar, perhaps in a non-James Cameron year it would have had a shot, provided that nothing particularly epic or Holocaust -related was up against it.  But "Up in the Air" was certainly worth seeing.  The characters were believable and interesting; I especially liked Clooney’s cocky little assistant, Natalie.  Clooney was his usual suave self– nothing new there, but it was fun watching Natalie deflate him every time she opened her mouth.  I also appreciated the lack of sexual chemistry between them; a fling between the young twenty-something and her fortyish superior would definitely have had too much "ick"  to make it tolerable but she defused that dread early on when she declared emphatically to her friend, "Oh, god no! He’s OLD!"  (prompting Clooney to look woefully into the mirror beside him).  I will not give away the ending, except to say that the screenwriter avoided the typical Hollywood cliches and so left me feeling satisfied, even if his characters were not. 

My one criticism? The soundtrack made me want to tear my ears off. I looked it up afterwards, and I realize that there were many different artists contributing to that cacophony from hell, but I first became conscious of the constipated, tuneless whining towards the latter half of the film.  If I may paraphrase the late, revered Michael Jackson:  "That sound, it was like a FIST in my ear."  
I actually began to dread Clooney’s pensive moments– because everytime the conversations stopped that noise would come back.

Good. Well.
Now on to Avatar. 
So—-I’m afraid to comment on this one.
First of all, this movie has been over-reviewed.  Anyone who hasn’t heard of it is either very Haredi or living under a rock.
Avatar’s been praised by nearly everyone —except, of course, the Vatican. (they objected to all the alien tree worship.) 
The movie’s been used by both liberal and conservative columnists to support nearly every cause.  
So I don’t think I have much to add, honestly.
But here is my review, in 100 words or less:
It was pretty. Really really pretty.  Kinda preachy, as if Al Gore and Amnesty International got together to father a lovely ten -foot female alien with a message for stupid humanity.  But the cinematography and animation mostly overshadowed the preachiness.  I rolled my eyes several times, but I was expecting too.  I’ve seen Titanic, after all; BUT  I am happy to report that in ten years James Cameron managed to achieve a significant cliche reduction (50 % at least?).  
After seeing the movie, I strongly recommend watching the Making of Avatar. It is absolutely fascinating.

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