Angelina and the Coens—those Old-Fashioned Filmmakers. And the good—I mean bad—witch, Meryl

Unbroken. I just saw “Unbroken.” It is wonderful. I did not expect to say this; the reviews are mixed, based partly on whether you are an Angelina Jolie fan I suspect and partly on whether you are fond of old-fashioned war hero/WWII/survival-at-sea-and-prison-camp films.

As a big Angelina Jolie admirer, I trundled my lazy Saturday afternoon self over to my neighborhood multiplex, bought the requisite popcorn (extra butter please), chocolate milk and water for only $15 and prepared to try very hard to like the film for Angelina’s sake. I am not sure what I expected but the names Jolie and Coen did not lead me to believe I would be transported back to the 1950s. And that’s where I went. It was the Royal Theater in Northome, Minnesota and my cousin Audrey was selling tickets out front. On screen there was a very handsome and brave young Gregory Peckish-looking guy, bravely surviving the war against unimaginable odds. Popcorn was 10¢.

Would you believe there’s no sex, no cursing, no gratuitous violence in this Jolie/Coen film—it is, purely and simply, a war hero movie about how a very handsome young Italian guy who had just won an Olympic medal survived a couple of months at sea and an excruciating and extended time as a Japanese prisoner of war. It also happens to be a true story.


Into the Woods. My Oscar-obsessed movie-watching sprint actually started last week when I saw my first 2014 Oscar-possibility film, “Into the Woods.” The Albuquerque girls joined me for the launch—and were less than excited. Musicals just aren’t their thing…and fairy tales not far enough in their pasts for them to find pleasure in the Prince cheating on Cinderella or the Giant being female.

I thought…what did I think? Musicals aren’t my favorites either. But there is the obligatory one every other year or so, right? Two years ago it was “Les Misérables” and, yes I am going to say it, I was indeed somewhat miserable during much of it…as were my two musically unsophisticated companions. “Into the Woods” was better but only by a few degrees. Okay so it was very well-done, the singing was brilliant (if you like…), the songs clever and …, Meryl Streep, of course, is a great witch and the cynical edge to the notion of ‘happily ever after’ was much appreciated. By me at least.

My recommendation is this. If you love musical theater/film definitely go; actually you’ve already gone. If you are not in love with that genre but remember fairy tales ever so fondly you should also go—unless you need them unadulterated. If you have an Oscars’ obsession that demands you see every nominated film—there’s no choice. Go, get it over with, you’ll feel better about yourself for not having cheated. Because, even if it doesn’t make the final list of best picture nominees, you know Meryl Streep will be nominated and that counts.

I’m already planning the invitation list for the big film/foodie event at my house February 22. So far it’s just me and Teresa, hopefully to be joined by Jonathan and Susanna and maybe another person or two. The thing is you must have seen all of the best picture nominations—at the very least—to come to the party. Also there’s the theme food for which all attendees share responsibility. I hope to make this bigger than Christmas. But that’s another story.


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