Sunday, February 22, 2009

Movies: The Reader and The Visitor

Okay, did a last bit of Oscar catching up this weekend and caught The Reader and The Visitor, so now I’m officially awards ready.

The Reader is a fantastic film. As Hanna Schmitz, Kate Winslet gives a phenomenal, nuanced performance that has well earned her an Oscar nomination and hopefully a win later tonight. But credit should also be given to David Kross and Ralph Fiennes for their portrayals of Michael Berg young and old. The film is largely single-minded, sticking close to the narrative of Michael and Hanna as they reconcile their own pasts and passions, but the narrow focus allows for great exploration of the larger historical issues of the Holocaust. This is a beautiful, complicated film that offers no easy answers, a film that will stay with you long after you’ve left the theatre.

Then there’s The Visitor. I see now why Richard Jenkins was nominated for his performance as a recent widower trying to reconnect with life, though I’m not sure his performance was quite strong enough to win. The Visitor is a sweet little indie drama that also wrestles with difficult questions – not as difficult as The Reader, mind, but immigration debates are certainly timely at the moment. The Visitor follows the standard indie template where lessons are learned and everyone walks away a little sadder but wiser. It’s worth seeing but not a must see by any means.

And now I’m finally ready to make my Oscar predictions. The show is shaping up to be interesting if the pre-show chatter is any indication – at this very moment E! is forcing all of their employees to do the Bollywood dance number from Slumdog Millionaire...

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