I've seen so many good movies recently.
On Wednesday, I saw Indigenes, a French movie that was inexplicably given the English title "Days of Glory." The movie is about a group Muslims from France's North African colonies who fight for France in World War II. It was really good. Sort of a traditional war movie recast as a story about France's poor treatment of its colonies, and -- mostly implicitly -- about its failure to keep its promises to those men and their countries after the war. Which is why the English name makes no sense. The acting was excellent. Unfortunately, I think it's now gone from theaters.
On Thursday, I saw The Lives of Others, which is set in East Germany during the 1980s. It won the Oscar for best foreign language movie. The basic premise is that a member of the Stasi is tasked to investigate a famous playwright who is suspected of being disloyal. And the story is of both men -- who are initially loyal -- becoming gradually disillusioned with the regime. It's heartbreaking. I highly recommend this movie.
On Friday, I saw Breach, which is about the Robert Hanssen case. It's odd that this is the movie that was made about that case. It's not really about Hanssen -- what he did, or why, or who he was (which, to remind you, was pretty fracking strange). Nor was it really about how the FBI caught him. When the movie starts, he's already been found out, and they're just trying to get enough evidence to convict him. And the first scene in the movie is John Ashcroft's press conference announcing that he's been arrested, so the audience knows exactly how it's going to end. What it is about is Ryan Phillippe's character, who is assigned to be Hanssen's aide and get close to him, and about his conflicting loyalties, and how the deceit inherent in his job affect his relationship with his wife. Which was a pretty interesting movie, but not the taut spy thriller I was expecting.
On Saturday, I saw Notes on a Scandal. Once again, the acting was excellent; I can see why Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench were nominated for Oscars. It's pretty amazing when a movie can make you sympathetic to a teacher who has sex with her 15 year old student. But I think the movie took the easy way out by making Dench's character so unambiguously evil. It would have been a much more interesting movie if her character had been more sympathetic.
On Sunday, I saw Pan's Labyrinth. Again, the English translation of the title makes no sense -- there's no Pan in the movie -- the Spanish title is the more apt "The Labyrinth of the Faun." But minor quibbles aside, this was another really good movie. It's the story of girl whose father died in the Spanish Civil War. At the beginning of the movie she and her pregnant mother go to live with her new stepfather in the countryside. He is a Captain in the Army under Franco, and he is tasked with wiping out the remnants of the resistance; he is also a sadist. There, she encounters a Faun who tells her that she is the long lost princess of the underworld, and if she completes three tasks she can go back and live with her family. I really can't talk about the most important part without spoiling it for you, so I will just say that you should really see this movie, even if it is a bit heavy handed at times.
Yesterday, I saw Music and Lyrics. Yay, a romantic comedy! No one dies or commits any major crimes! Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore! It's possible that my standards were lowered by having just seen so many dark movies, but I really enjoyed it.
Just one note about the AMC Georgetown, is it me or is the service there often insanely bad? Yesterday, I was the second person in line behind a woman trying to get 2 drinks, popcorn, and candy. I gave up after 5 minutes, when they still weren't done with her. It was mystifying. And of course, there were two other employees just standing behind the counter doing nothing the whole time. I only mention this because it's at least the third time I've had similar problems there. What is the deal?