Everybody’s a Critic
At least everybody thinks they are. Me? I’m no critic but I certainly love to critique movies as I see them and I’ve seen four in the last two weeks – Freedom Writers, The Good Shepherd, Catch and Release, and Dreamgirls – in viewing order. BUT, if I had to place them in order from most to least favorite, I’d place them in this way:
- Freedom Writers
- The Good Shepherd
- Catch and Release
By far, Dreamgirls tops the list! I just got back from the theatre and I’m still wiping away tears and humming the soundtrack. Dreamgirls is this year’s Chicago. It’s a movie musical but without all the drama & mystery that makes the story. This is a story that, though it traces time from the 50’s to the 80’s, it is very reminiscent of what music star wannabes go through in their climb to the top of the music industry ladder of today. There’s heartbreak, emotion, and drama. It’s expertly directed, photographed, and choreographed. The ensemble of actors led by Eddie Murphy (Golden Globe Winner Best Supporting Actor), Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx, and this year’s breakout star, Jennifer Hudson (Golden Globe Winner Best Supporting Actress), portray each character with such believability that you find yourself drawn into it. Add to this the phenomenal soundtrack and you’ve got a winner in more ways than one. This is one movie that I will purchase the DVD of. For sure!
Freedom Writers, based on the real-life drama behind the Long Beach, California high school students that make a difference to themselves and their community thanks to the teacher that believes in them, is a wonderfully touching story. Once again, Hillary Swank (Oscar winner for Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don’t Cry) steps up to the plate to portray a role that for me, hits so close to home. She nails it! It too is full of emotion, heartbreak, and drama but from a much different angle. It’s so real that it made me take a step back to think about my chosen profession and my own feelings towards it. This is another film I highly recommend but bring Kleenex because you’ll need it.
In The Good Shepherd, Matt Damon plays a man who troubled by his father’s suicide while he was still a young boy, values honor and discretion so much so that he joins the Skull & Bone Society while attending Yale which eventually leads to his recruitment into the beginnings of the CIA as an operative for the agency. Damon’s character, Ed Wilson, eventually sacrifices not only his ideals but his family in this dramatic thriller.* It’s a slow moving story but one that continues to captivate even the usually bored movie viewer. In one sense, it’s a sad film but in another, it’s so well acted, directed, and scripted that you can’t help but watch to the very end. Robert DeNiro directs as well as plays a significant part in the story. Joe Pesce has a small role as well. And yes, I do recommend it.
Finally, Catch and Release, the Jennifer Garner film in which she plays a recently widowed fiance to a man with a past that she uncovers through her grief, was worth the price of the matinee ticket. It’s not a typical chick flick but rather, it has a story to it, one that actually sucks you in. You feel her pain, experience her sadness and laughter, all the while rooting for her character to find love again. For me, this film was a surprising joy. I found myself pleasantly surprised because I had anticipated it to be the typical chick flick…and it wasn’t. Even still, it’s worth waiting for the DVD or the In Demand version. OR, if it’s one of those cold rainy wintry days and you’re looking for just the right feel good movie, this one is it.
There you have it – my review of four recent cinematic releases. Certainly not expert but then again, I’m not a critic, remember?
*see IMDB at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0343737/plotsummary for more information
(Image courtesy of Blackfilm.com: http://www.blackfilm.com/i3/movies/d/dreamgirls/wallpaper.jpg)