This weekend, HK and I went to see Invictus.  Directed by Clint Eastwood, the movie stars Morgan Freeman as South African president Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the losing South African rugby team.

Honestly, I was not initially very enthusiastic about seeing this movie.  From what I know (admittedly little) about rugby, it is a violent and pointless game. OK, maybe Matt Damon can make it more tolerable, with his blonde hair and adorable smile.  There is still the issue of apartheid. Did I really want to watch a movie that combines the two subjects?   Well, with the fervor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday upon us, I felt the spirit and gave in. Good move!

Let me just start by saying that Morgan Freeman gives a stellar performance as Mandela, and amid the violence and racial tension depicted throughout most of the movie, Freeman manages to keep a reassuring and calming tone throughout.  Racial tension is everywhere, from the country’s rugby fans (they cheer against their home team, who represent apartheid), to the newly chosen security staff of the President.

With the approaching World Cup, Mandela sees the hope of unity through sport, meeting personally with Pienaar and encouraging the team’s interaction with the locals. The movie’s title, Invictus, comes from a poem that was Mandela’s inspiration during his nearly 30-year long prison term.  “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul” is the message portrayed to Pienaar, serving as his own inspiration to bring the team into contention to win the 1995 World Cup.

Eastwood deftly places tension into his movie, both personal and racial, and skillfully transforms that tension into humor and warmth. Don’t think of this movie as a Rugby flick, and don’t think of it as a history lesson in apartheid, either. Think of it as a study of the human spirit and what is possible if one truly believes.

Last night HK and I went to the Buckhead Fork & Screen (bar/restaurant/movie theater) and saw The Blind Side.  Wow! Great movie! I gained a new appreciation for Sandra Bullock after watching her performance. And Tim Mcgraw–who knew he was a good actor??

For those of you who don’t know, (but I suspect most of you do), the movie is the true story about Michael Oher, a downtrodden, homeless black teen who is taken in by a well-to-do white family. It seemed to me to be an improbable scenerio of trust, giving and love (from both ends).  What we initially see as a hopeless kid from a broken home sleeping in laundromats (because it is warm and dry there) to a 1st pick NFL draft.  

Being adopted by his new family gives Michael the ability to thrive, sure, but the change that occurs within the Tuohy family is the real inspiration of this beautiful family film. Little bitty Leigh Ann Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) has the back of this behemoth teenager, and goes to great lengths to do right by him.  (I am seriously relieved to see her in something other than a silly romantic comedy).  The story rekindles faith in the human spirit and reminds us of the power that comes from belief–in yourself and in others. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true—“you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll love it!”   Go see it.

precious-movie-thumb

Precious

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, is a film by Lee Daniels that draws its audience in deeper than most people may be comfortable with.

Precious is a morbidly obese, abused black teenager who is pregnant (for the second time) by her father. Living in the projects of Harlem with her abusive monster of a mother, Precious doesn’t seem to get any breaks in life. She escapes her nightmarish (more…)

this is it

This is IT!

My friend Karin and I went to a matinee today to see  This Is It,  the movie that was made from over 100 hours of footage taped during the rehersals of his 5 sold-out London shows.  ***Go see the movie soon, it’s only playing in the USA for 2 weeks!!!

The movie is all behind-the-scenes action, interviews with his musicians, dancers, choreographers. Each and every one of the people involved in this concert- that- never- happened had such love, respect and admiration for Michael, and it came across very obviously that he returned the love.

Watching the dancers move in unison was mesmerizing, watching his backup singers belt it out had me imagining I was on that stage.   Each one gave 110%, not because that’s what they had to do, but because they truly believed in the man in charge. Painstakingly detail-oriented, Michael went through each rehersal with every bit of gusto he demonstrated in past performances. If the media and skeptics doubted him, this series of concerts, the showmanship of the crew, the attention to detail, the videography, all of this would have proved them dead wrong.

The music included old favorites from the Jackson 5, Thriller, Billie Jean and Man in the Mirror. It also included some new songs, and a poem that is an Ode to Mother Earth. Not only was MJ a humanitarian, he was a strong advocate for our planet.

Michael Jackson was truly an artistic genious that in one way or another, touched us all. Michael appeared so happy on the footage that we watched, and was such a positive force.  That is the way I will choose to remember him.

Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia

Yesterday, I decided to beat the heat and take myself to a matinee.  I’ve been hearing good things about Julie & Julia, so I packed my purse with candy and my BPA- free water bottle and settled in for the afternoon.

This movie first caught my eye when I learned that it was two intertwined stories, one, of course, about the pre-fame years of Julia Child, (Meryl Streep) in trying to “find something to doooooo” , and that of Julie Powell, (Amy Adams) a frustrated writer cum office worker.   You probably already know the story, so I won’t re-hash it all.

The movie is about passion. Not sexy, affair-ridden copulating passion, but passion for finding something you love to do and doing it. And most importantly, sticking with it through trying times, even though you sometimes ask yourself, why am I even doing this–what’s the point??

Throughout this movie, I found myself smiling and nodding my head. Yes, I was one of those annoying people talking (albeit to myself) to the characters on the big screen. I could relate to both Julia an Julie, and I recognized many paralells with myself and Julie. 

First and most obvious is the name. I don’t meet many Julies these days. Her love of  food–cooking and eating –was certainly a draw. She is a writer, albeit a disheartened one. (check). So she decides to write a blog.  A blog!  Julie Powell’s blog has a different core than mine (hers has a distinct timeline with one focus-Julia Child’s recipes), but it is a blog, nonetheless.

One year ago (more…)

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk

Sean Penn as Harvey Milk

Last nite H.K.(that’s short for Honeykins) and  I saw Milk. It’s the movie about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California.  Sean Penn plays the lead, and nailed it, from what i’ve read.  The director, Gus Van Sant, had the near impossible task of casting for it, as there were really no openly gay actors that fit the role. But, once again, Sean Penn rose to the occasion. I LOVE LOVE him! He had me at Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since.

The movie is so good, it had me all caught up in the gay rights movement in San Francisco in the 70’s. I am an admitted fag-hag, and I felt like I wanted to actually BE a gay man for a couple of hours last night.  I loved the brotherhood and shared support for a cause that the movie portrayed.  It’s rare to be so passionate about a cause as Milk was, and he never let up, he fought for equal treatment right up until he was assasinated.  His life changed history, and his courage changed lives.

Jeff had to “shush” me several times, I was getting so wrapped up in the scenes. It’s a damn shame that very few theatres in the US are showing it, (too controversial has been a prime reason).  Damn shame, too, that Proposition 8 in California passed,denying same-sex couples the right to marry. Two steps forward, one step back. 

Take a bunch of steps forward and get yourself to the theatre to see one of, if not THE, best movie of the year!