Monday, January 11, 2010


Welcome to Less Hat, Moorhead on Blogspot. Before launching into 2010 in earnest, let’s wrap up a bit of 2009 business: Here’s my '09 Top Ten list:

Inglourious Basterds
The Road
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Crazy Heart
Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
A Serious Man

Here are quick takes on a few more stragglers from the ‘09 season:

The Young Victoria: Emily Blunt, with her splendid dour glower, seems like a pretty good choice to play the young version of history’s most famously Not-Amused woman. She’s pleasing in the role, Rupert Friend is adequate as her Prince Albert, & there are a few choice turns among the supporting cast. But the story of her ascension to the throne & her unexpected discovery that she actually liked the guy she got tossed together with simply isn’t dramatic enough (at least as dramatized here) to persuade us that it’s worth our time. There’s nothing really wrong with the movie, there’s just nothing very compelling about it.

The Hurt Locker: A friend of mine has often complained about action movies which depict heroes “blown to safety by the force of huge explosions.” This story of a bomb-disposal unit in 2004 Baghdad stands in reproach to that childish style—it dissects what the concussions of road side bombs do to objects & people. The movie, about a young Sergeant (the excellent Jeremy Renner) & his addiction to the risks of his job, effectively depicts some of the grim psychological maiming that U.S. combatants are said to be suffering in our current wars, & these spiritual ravages are dazzlingly externalized by the physical punch of the bombs. The director, the talented but never before so disciplined Kathryn Bigelow, seems to be explaining to us what bombs do to human bodies as if we were children, like George Clooney does with bullets in Three Kings. It’s one of the best movies of the year.

It’s Complicated: Meryl Streep is a Santa Barbara baker, affluent & long-divorced, who impulsively starts fooling around with her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) behind the back of the young wife (Lake Bell) for whom he left her. Baldwin, alive with reckless mischief, is at his leering best here—the sheer, obvious pleasure that he takes in working opposite Streep is hilarious. It’s also understandable—impressive as Streep’s early work was, it’s taken turning into an old lady for her to truly find her sexiness. Steve Martin is also around, as a sweet, wounded-by-divorce architect who likes Streep, but he’s a bit recessive here; he doesn’t even try to compete with Baldwin. The script, by director Nancy Meyers, meanders a bit, & is rather dismissive about the morality of the affair, but her dialogue is often smart, & these charming actors are able to convince us that it’s all just good lewd middle-aged fun.

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