Over Easter break I actually watched a few movies--I've had to downgrade my Netflix subscription to just one movie at a time since I've gotten so bad about watching what I have. I'm slowly trying to watch the three I have at home so I can actually see something I am anxious to see. I ended up renting a few from the video store in order to be able to have some movies I was EAGER to see for over the holiday weekend.
Over the weekend I got to see Milk and I really enjoyed it. I didn't know much about Harvey Milk and while he clearly wasn't a saint, I thought it was interesting to learn about his life and the things he did in the 70s in San Francisco. Of course, there are incredible parallels now with the Prop 8 struggle in California and the Anita Bryant/Briggs drama that was unfolding in 1978 in the US over the issue of fairness in the workplace. It's sad to realize how little progress we've made in this area. But with recent developments in Iowa, perhaps there IS hope. I really like Sean Penn as an actor, regardless of what he's like in "real life" and I sort of forgot he was the actor and believed he was "Harvey Milk" as I watched the movie. One discussion point made as I talked with friends about the film was that the elements about Dan White were not developed enough, nor was there much explanation for his behavior and actions. I found myself online looking up who was "real" and what was fictionalized for the film and in the process I learned even more about Mr. Milk. I guess it's a good sign when a film pushes one to learn more. I'd definitely recommend this one.
I did finally manage to watch one of my Netflix films: Shotgun Stories based on an Ebert pick from 2008 and I would not recommend it. This film was about as depressing as it gets. It's the story of three brothers known as Kid, Son, and Boy whose jerk of a father mistreated them, then abandoned them and went on to lead a more or less normal life with another woman and fathered more sons who he recognized and treated as a family. Following his death, Son feels it's necessary to show up at the funeral and remind folks that he wasn't a saint. This launches a sort of feud between the sets of half brothers that is the focus of the film. Meanwhile, the depressing lives of the main characters was almost more than I could handle. I'm sure this is a story about family, about overcoming your past, about brotherhood and solidarity, justice and revenge, and the future and forgiveness, but it just made me feel a little yucky.
Rachel Getting Married wasn't all that much more uplifting but at least I could relate to some of it. The wedding scenes were fun and it seemed joyous and creative and full of life. In this film Anne Hathaway plays Kym, the messed up sister, fresh from a decade of ins and outs of rehab home to attend her sister Rachel's wedding. She's upset that she's not the maid of honor, she's upset that her sister is moving to Hawaii, she's upset that Rachel is pregnant and mostly she's just upset. There's obvious tension and disappointment in their mother (Debra Winger), experienced by both girls and there is a tension in the whole family relating to Kym and her sins of the past. Her lies catch up with them, her father is an smiley, tension breaking enabler. And things reach a boiling point when Rachel says, "enough." But it's not that easy, nothing in life is and with Kym there's a lot of healing that still needs to happen, and she still seems like a bit of a drama junkie. However there are quiet moments in the movie where I really felt I understood her struggle, the way her sister felt, their connection to their mother, and ultimately despite their frustration with one another, I felt the sisters "got each other" too. This one was pretty depressing, but it was intriguing too. I'd recommend it.
It turns out I screwed up and rented a film I'd already seen for our Easter family flick. Oops. I got the latest Bond film, Quantum of Solace, because I hadn't written it down in my movie journal and so there was no record of my movie theatre viewing over Christmas break. And for whatever reason I just didn't remember it. Until about 20 minutes into the film. Oops. I enjoyed it. Bond is always good fun. I just wish of the long list of movies I'd LIKE to see, I'd managed to rent one of those. I really liked Judi Dench's hair in that film! She looks pretty awesome.