How depressing is it that 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop' is the box office winner for the second week running. Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Just the name is enough to give any serious movie buff the fits. A 27% on the Rotten Tomato meter is not exactly awe-inspring. Claudia Puig of USA Today clearly didn't like it: "The last name Blart may be the funniest thing in the movie, so that's a hint as to just how bad this shopping-center saga can be." But what can one expect from a January release...
Enough about dreck - there were some excellent movies released in 2008 and amongst the Oscar contenders (for either best movie, actor or actress) here is my brief take:
The Wrestler: One of the best movies of the year; astonishingly good acting by Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. They could very well both win Oscars for this one.
Slumdog Millionaire: Hands down the best movie of the year in my opinion. Absorbing, hilarious romp of a movie that takes you on an improbable but tremendously enjoyable journey out of the slums of Mumbai, told by way of flashbacks. If it doesn't win the Oscar for movie of the year, the Academy got it wrong.
Milk: Sean Penn is simply brilliant in this fabulous movie which succeeds on every level: highly entertaining and totally believable (based on true events, duh) without being preachy or politically correct. Truly a movie about people and not ' just' about gay politics in San Francisco. Sean Penn should win the Oscar for this.
I've Loved You so Long: Worth seeing just for Kristin Scott-Thomas' award-worthy performance. Definitely a mistake on the part of the Academy to overlook her for a nomination as best actress.
Frost/Nixon: Delivers much much more than the title may suggest. A tense, exceedingly well made movie with Frank Langella putting in a superb turn as Nixon. Anybody even remotely interested in history or politics should see this movie. You won't be disappointed. And by all means wear a pair of Italian loafers.
Rachel Getting Married: At first, the almost ridiculous camera movement is extremely off-putting but as soon as Anne Hathaway starts doing her thing, it turns into an absorbing and very satisfying - if somewhat depressing - tale of intra-familial woes. Stellar acting all round but Hathaway is brilliant.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona: no self-respecting Woodie Allen fan can miss this movie, and pretty much anybody with an interest in what attracts people to each other, will enjoy it. Javier Bardem is one cool customer, with lots of wattage supplied by Scarlett Johannson and Penelope Cruz. Their darkroom scene alone is worth the price of admission.
Next time: my take on Gran Torino, the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Revolutionary Road, The Reader and Australia. A hint: the one I liked least was CC of BB - it was too long and I really thought the ending was weak. It is not without merit though.
And on the running front? I'm back....! Almost 20 miles over the last three days (Saturday, Sunday and today, Monday). Practically no sign of the knee injury: I am doing a bunch of exercises and stretches at home, and still going for physical therapy sessions. Something is working - I'm thrilled. Will definitely take it easy this week. Of course on Friday we leave for Africa, and I won't get a whole lot of running done over there. It ought to be a bit better than the previous trip though; we will spend several days in Zanzibar and on the Indian Ocean coast, where there will be opportunities to run. So maybe a 'slow' couple of weeks over there will be just what the doctor ordered. Daisy (our young Boxer) has been running with me the last few days and she loves it! Getting to meet lots of other dogs and people, and she definitely needs the socializing.