Mike Kueber's Blog

March 24, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #18 – A Separation, Black Swan, The Constant Gardiner, and Fahrenheit 9/11

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 6:05 pm
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Since joining Netflix, I thought my movie-theater days would be over.  But I’ve also joined eHarmony, so my movie-theater days may be shifting into high gear.  My first movie-theater film in a long time was A Separation.  I picked it because it won this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film.  (The Iran-based movie is in Persian.) 

A Separation revolves around a middle-class couple experiencing a marital separation while trying to deal with a parent who has advanced Alzheimer’s.  Then to make matters worse, the husband gets caught up in a trumped up murder charge related to the miscarriage of his father’s caregiver.  I was surprised to see that Iran had a middle class, but even more to see that its judicial system operates relatively effectively even with its heavy overlay of extreme religiosity.  When I suggested to my date that the only thing it was missing was romance, she suggested that romance was probably not a big thing in Iran.  Perhaps. The movie earned a Rotten Tomato critic’s rating of 99% and an audience rating of 94%.  I give it four stars out of four.  I was impressed that Iran could produce such an outstanding drama. 

Black Swan is a so-called psychological thriller that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2011.  Although the film didn’t win the award, its star Natalie Portman won the Best Actress award.  I’m not sure if I don’t like psychological thrillers or if I just didn’t like this one.  Portman and her co-star Mila Kunis are stunningly attractive, but neither captured me.  The Rotten Tomato critics were 87% favorable and the audience was 86%.  I give it two and a half stars out of four.

Rachel Weisz (pronounced “vice”) was showcased in Time magazine this week in advance of her new movie, Deep Blue Sea, which comes out this weekend.  The article mentioned that Weisz had won an Academy Award for her supporting performance with Ralph Fiennes in the 2005 thriller The Constant Gardener, and that was enough reason for me to give this Netflix streaming movie a try.  The movie concerns humanitarian activists fighting corrupt capitalism in poverty-stricken Kenya.  Weisz is wonderful in the movie as an erratic, passionate activist, but Fiennes is at least as good as a sensitive, decent civil servant.  Their love for each other, however, is what makes the movie click for me.  Rotten Tomatoes gave it 83% by critics and 81% by the audience; I give it three and a half stars out of four.   

Fahrenheit 9/11 made my viewing list because this 2004 award-winning movie by Michael Moore is the highest-grossing documentary of all time.  It earned an 84% rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics, but only 69% from its viewers (mostly liberal, I presume).  I give it only one and a half stars out of four because it consisted mostly of anti-war (Iraq) and anti-Bush propaganda – a perfect example of Moore preaching to the choir and doing nothing to persuade the undecided.  Despite the film’s commercial success in mid-2004, Bush-43 was re-elected several months later in November 2004.

Incidentally, according to Wikipedia, “The title of the film alludes to Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian view of the future United States, analogizing the auto-ignition temperature of paper with the date of the September 11 attacks; the film’s tagline is ‘The Temperature at Which Freedom Burns.’”