What I watched this weekend

It’s the first week of February, and so far I’ve seen about 30 new (to me) films in 2014. It feels like a lot, but also – it doesn’t feel like many at all. At the end of every week, I’m always left wishing I’d fit in more. And the list of what I want to see just keeps growing!

Add to that the MoviePass I’ve invested in, and I definitely feel the need to get to the theater at least once a week, if not more. Which you’d think would be an easy task. But when you figure on work and real life, finding three hours (the film plus getting there and back) to check out a movie is hard to find!

This weekend, I promised myself I’d knock a few films off my list. In an effort to keep my movie-viewing on pace, I took in GLORIA, LABOR DAY and THE HUNT

I was pretty stoked to check out Labor Day having heard the news maybe 2 years ago that Jason Reitman was adapting the novel as one of his next projects. This is the guy behind Juno. And Up in the Air. Kate Winslet was attached to star. Sounded promising! And then it was bumped from end of 2013 into the no-man’s-land that is Jan/Feb new releases. Winslet more than carries her own (obvs), but it can’t make up for the immovable, unfeeling 2×4 board of wood that is Josh Brolin. In what I can only assume is an effort to fit in all the developments of the book (I haven’t read it), the end of the film is actually quite charming, and had it been reworked to include more of that phase of these characters’ lives, I might’ve been more attached. As it was, I was surprised to hear sniffles from a handful of others in the small audience; the film certainly didn’t grab me in that way.

Gloria was hard to stick with, a lead character who I couldn’t quite identify with at the outset. But the film pays off in a grand way, and all praise is certainly warranted (Garcia, who nabbed best actress in Berlin, is a force indeed). It’s striking filmmaking, too – seldom if ever does the camera drift from its lead. She’s in 99% of the shots, and 99% of those are from her perspective. We don’t get a wide shot, a different angle to take in the world she lives in. Just her. And, I suppose, that’s the point. Because by the end, we’ve lived with this woman for long enough that her pain is our pain, her triumph, our triumph. Though I haven’t seen all the Foreign Language nominees, it’s an oversight this one didn’t make it into the mix.

Speaking of Foreign Language Oscar nominees, the third film I fit in this weekend was The Hunt, the nominee from Denmark. Starring Mads Mikkelsen, the film follows a teacher in small, tight-knit town accused – erroneously – of child abuse and the ramifications. It’s (very) hard to watch at times, but its honestly – and Mikkelsen’s spot on performance make for a compelling, thought-provoking story. It’s a film I wish more American audiences would see, and the though occurs to me that it would make a decent US remake if someone wanted to make the effort. But there’s really no need – the sharp, significant original version is worth seeking out.

Now that I know I saw about 130 films in 2013, I’m more than a little paranoid about seeing as many (or more) this year; 130 films in a year is just over 10 films per month. At about 30 films in six weeks, I’d say I’m doing OK.