I finally saw this film:
I liked it, but I didn't love it. There's been a lot of comparisons this week between Blood and No Country and my reaction to both was similar. Really well done, great filmmaking, but kind of left me cold, so not my favorite movies of the year. Blood is about an oilman played by Daniel Day Lewis. The film opens with DDL mining for silver and is completely dialog free. It's beautiful filmmaking and really sets up who this character is and what he's about. During his mining he finds oil and becomes a very successful oilman. One day he's given a tip about some oil rich land that can be had for cheap by a young man played by Paul Dano. DDL goes to this land and buys oil leases and develops the oil fields. He meets the brother of the man who gave him the tip, also played by Paul Dano. This man is an ambitious preacher and there's a lifelong animosity between Dano's character and DDL character. So the film is about oil and greed and ambition and religion and family. There were times I struggled to stay with the film, because it has a very slow, deliberate pace and it's a pretty long film. Those are two things that usually don't bother me a bit, but maybe because it was a Friday evening or just the film itself, I had a tough time this time. I would recommend it, though.
Shorter and much easier to follow was this:
This is a family film about two twin boys and their older sister who move into their family's ancestoral home with their mom when their father leaves the family. The house had been occupied by their great aunt before she was finally committed to an insane asylum. See, she thought that fairies had stolen her father. Turns out, the old lady was on to something. Her father, Arthur Spiderwick, played by one of my favorite actors, David Strathairn, had written down everything he had learned about the secret world of fairies which is all around us, but we just don't see. The fairies, goblings and other spirits are animated and the CGI and real world look really good together in this film. The twins are played by Freddie Highmore, who does a good job distinguishing the two brothers. I was a little troubled by how poorly the dads come off in this film, but overall I thought it was a fun film and the kids all really liked it (age 6 to 12).
Even shorter and easier to understand was the last movie I saw:
Yes, another Will Ferrell comedy, this time about an ABA league basketball team, the Flint Tropics. If you giggle at the idea of a team in Flint, MI called the Tropics, you'll enjoy this silly film. This is not one of the great Will Ferrell movies, but it's funny enough. I agree with Robert Wilonsky, who called it "comedy comfort food." There's a lot of gags about the 70s and sports and Will Ferrell's typically enthusiastic but kinda dumb character. But there's also the cliched sports movie storyline about the grizzled old vet who needs to find his love for the game again for one last run at glory - this time the grizzled old vet is played by Woody Harrelson. There actually are a couple of black guys on the team too, including Andre Benjamin as the star of the team, looking to make it to the NBA even if his team doesn't make it through the ABA/NBA merger that is looming. Benjamin (aka Andre 3000 of OutKast) really looks like a baller - who knew he was so sexy? There are a number of characters who are really funny and although the movie as a whole isn't fantastic, I'd still recommend it for a fun matinee when you need a laugh. I also have to mention the soundtrack. As a huge fan of 70s soul, I enjoyed the film just for the great music. It may have been set in Flint, but the music is pure Motown.
OK, that brings me up to date. There are a couple of other films I wanted to see from 2007, but I think I've seen all the essentials. Next time I'll post my list of my Top Ten of 2007. It was a really good year and it'll be hard to limit it to just 10.