Friday, December 12, 2008

Pre-Christmas Christmas Movie Review

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • There may be no upcoming movie with bigger bomb potential than Valkyrie, Bryan Singer's WWII drama starring Tom Cruise. There had been buzz about it for a long time and Cruise just soaks up controversy and hatred (for reasons I don't totally understand). After seeing a preview of it tonight, I can assure you that it does not live up to its potential as a bomb. Rather, it's a pretty tense, very efficient political movie with strong performances from Cruise and from a supporting cast that includes great actors like Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy. Singer is one of my very favorite directors (along with Spielberg, Fincher, Cuaron, and Shyamalan) and he has some beautiful shots, including some very powerful close-ups that allow an actor like Wilkinson to develop a character with only a facial expression. The story of the assassination attempt on Hitler is pretty well-known, but the surrounding story of the coup that was put into motion is not. As much as anything else, it's a great relief to see a WWII movie that has nothing to do with the Holocaust. Valkyrie isn't an Oscar movie, although David Bamber, as Hitler, is jarringly good, but it's probably a lot better than you think it would be.
    • My wife has been listening to the new Killers CD and it is very, very good.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I don't think I could be a bigger Bryan Singer fan. Not everyone loved Superman Returns, but I did. A lot. And all you need to know are two things: how bad X-Men 3 was (it's the one he didn't direct) and that he helped create House.
    • Apologies to my gentile friends who don't understand this at all. I was in the middle of a discussion today on Chanukah's connection to Sukkot when someone walked by, beaming, and said, "Shemini Atzeret is my favorite holiday!" Now, I can see why anyone would like any number of holidays -- the solemnity of Yom Kippur (my favorite), the ruach of Purim, the meaning of Pesach, even the commemoration of Tisha B'Av -- but who's favorite holiday is Shemini Atzeret?
  • Daily Rant:
    • Bethesda traffic is miserable, especially in the rain. Took us over an hour to go like two miles on back roads. This forty-degree rain has to stop. Let's get some snow going!

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