Billy Soistmann

What I Watched This Week (Feb. 28-Mar. 6)

In Features, What I Watched This Week on March 7, 2010 at 1:09 PM

This week, I caught up some more on some of the Oscar films that I had missed. Now, I’m ready for the ceremony tonight. I’ll have more thoughts on that shortly.

2/28 – The Messenger (2009): This movie had a great concept – The Casualty Notification Service of the US army has the painful task of informing families that their loved one has been killed in action. Will (Ben Foster) is assigned to the task force, lead by off-kilter Captain Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson), after being injured in Iraq. It was excellent film, and a great début for director Oren Moverman, but nothing extraordinary. Harrelson was fantastic. He came across as a stoic force, but revealed that there was more to his character beneath the surface. I did not enjoy the cinematography. The camera zoomed in way to much, and most of the time, for no apparent reason. In any case, the story was moving and the acting supported it excellently.

3/1 – Crazy Heart (2009): This film is about a character, not a story. There is a definite plot, but really Crazy Heart is a character study of Bad Blake, a washed-up country music star. Jeff Bridges carries this film through an impressive performance as the aging alcoholic loner. A Best Actor Oscar would not be undeserved. However, you can’t forget the supporting cast – Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, and Robert Duvall all give excellent performances. The film also captures a sense of wandering desperation through its cinematography. The points of focus always seem to linger toward the edges of the frame. The final great part about this film is the music. From beginning to end, the music brings the story to life as Jeff Bridges performing his songs himself. Overall, this was a great film about a lone man and his struggles, not only with career success, but also with love and alcoholism.

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