December 12, 2005

Go for the gold

Yes folks, that means that Oscar season has officially begun. There were certainly some early entries (like last month's Capote and Rent), but now is when it kicks into high gear. And as I do every year, I will make an attempt (in vain) to see every nominee possible. Why? Perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment. Each year the Academy challenges me to see even more films than the year before, and I answer with a hearty, "HA! I can do it!" Then Oscar night rolls around and I'm lamenting how many I missed. *sigh* It's a tough road, but I feel as a gay man it is my duty.

So this past weekend, the Significant Non-Ursine (SNU) and I decided to at least get a jump on things and take in a couple movies, as the biggies aren't in full release yet. Our first was Walk the Line - a biopic of perpetually funeral-clad Johnny Cash. I'm not really sure what I expected; I've never been a country music fan, and Cash was always that old guy who showed up occasionally on Hee Haw when I was growing up. But I must say it was very compelling. Yes, in many ways it felt like I was watching last year's Ray all over again - the drug abuse, the womanizing, the crash followed by redemption. Yet this film was rooted in the incredible work of the two leads - Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.

What's impressive is how well they both emulate their real-life counterparts, while adding their own touches. Witherspoon is especially impressive, probably because I still can't get her bubble-headed pink lady from Legally Blonde out of my head when I look at her. But they sing their own songs and everything - pretty darn well, I might add. On the whole I found the movie to be a bit long, but I was definitely glad I saw it.

This year's holiday present to make up for the loss of legions of Lord of the Rings fans is from the Chronicles of Narnia. The film is based on the second book in the series of seven, and the most popular - The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I won't retread the basic plot, as I'm sure you've heard it before.

So I went to see it with the SNU and Ms. Joyous. They liked a point. I however, loved it. Now I admit that I have a severe bias, because the Narnia books were a major facet in my life as a young reader. I've read them all a couple times, and this particular one even more (three times, I think).

The first thing one must do when watching the movie is to accept that C.S. Lewis wrote the book as part Christian allegory. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the Aslan = Jesus / Jadis = Satan metaphor. Betrayal, sacrifice, resurrection, etc.

What enchants me about the books (and the film) is the sense of fantasy and childhood wonder, which was Lewis' other major goal. The first time in the movie when young Lucy turns around and sees that she is no longer in the wardrobe but in an enchanted winter wonderland...well let's just say I'm glad I had a pile of napkins stuffed next to my Cherry Coke.

The real fun is the White Witch, played by Tilda Swinton. She comes off as a seductress war Amazon, clad in a ridiculously large gown, with dreadlocks intertwined, and an ice crown that appears to actually grow out of her head. She's just divine!

Also of note is James McAvoy as the faun, Mr. Tumnus. He's really adorable, and I confess that I may or may not have had naughty thoughts about him. What? He was half-naked with a hairy chest and an accent! That's my thing!

Setting aside those dirty musings, I thought it was great fun, and I do hope that the studio will greenlight the next film, which will be based on book 3 - Prince Caspian. (For those confused, the first book is a sort of prequel, called The Magician's Nephew.)


DC Food Blog said...

Yep. I was there. I went to see the 6:30 showing of Narnia. I was walking to the bathroom and saw the two of you and thought to myself, "That looks like those two bloggers I read." N and R say they will arrange for a meeting one of these days.

Stef said...

I loved Walk the Line. And I agree, I was just a teensy bit more impressed with Reese, although they both did a great job. My friend CG and I have both commented, though, that we've seen actual footage of Johnny and June after seeing the movie, and we had the same thought: "Wow, June Carter Cash was kinda annoying." IF you flip past CMT at any point you'll probably see them.

I do really want to see Narnia -- maybe with the fam over Christmas when I'm stuck in Borington...

ScottE. said...

I liked both movies, but didn't LOVE LOVE LOVE either of them. Walk The Line was good for the acting and informing me on parts of Cash's life I didn't know so much about...I didn't realize how much June was there for....I loved Reese so much. Such a sweet heart and she has adorable children and a hot husband...hope they are happy!

Narnia was a great fantasy film...the moment J-lo talks about...when the girl comes into the forest the first time and the faun (Mmmmm, dirty), was wonderful, as were several other parts....but I didn't like the symbolism hitting me on the head, I kept rolling my one point I rolled over to Joyous and started reciting what I could of the poem "Footprints." Great film, if the symbolism doesn't get to be too much for you...and there were lots of similiarities to the Lord to of the Rings movies....

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