Tag Archives: Oscars

Bingeing for the OSCARS


Back to blogland and the movies. It’s Sunday night and I’ve just spent a perfect day. There’s Sunday morning book club—not your everyday normal book club, and then heading off to Manchester (by the Sea) which wasn’t far enough away so I moved on to Antarctica before running out of energy and returning home to leftover gluten-free pizza and morning’s warmed up coffee.

Where was I in the Movie Marathon before dropping out for some life things (such as the March in DC and work and sleep)? The goal as usual is to see all of the nominated Hollywood and foreign films and documentaries before the Oscars. I’m not so far along but February is movie-binge month and the chance to catch up. Before the small hiatus I managed Moonlight and A Man Called Ove, both among the nominees, and Queen of Katwe, not nominated but definitely worth seeing. I did talk about them already at https://mneset.com/2016/11/20/avoiding-the-real-world-not-really/.

Here are my latest movie stories, and stories they are. I’m not film-savvy enough to write actual critiques but since I love stories I can comment from that perspective. The best theaters for the best stories (in my opinion) are the Guild, a small arthouse on Central Avenue focusing on foreign, cult and far-from-mainstream films and documentaries, and High Ridge, an older theater/semi-arthouse on the east side of town showing the more interesting of Hollywood films along with a few foreign films and docs as well. Both theaters have a following, but especially the Guild which comes as close to having a brother who’s a serious film aficionado and shows movies every night in his living room as you can get (without that particular brother). It’s really the best of all film experiences to hang out there on a Sunday afternoon which is what I did yesterday for Antarctica: Ice & Sky: “… a stirring portrait of French glaciologist, Claude Lorius, whose groundbreaking research in Antarctica gave us the first clear evidence of man-made global climate change…Through remarkable archival footage and stunning drone cinematography, Antarctica: Ice and Sky is an epic tale where science and adventure meet, equal parts contemplative memoir and an ardent call to action.”

I am almost positive that in a previous life I was an Arctic/Antarctic explorer or perhaps a polar bear or an iceberg or at the very least an Antarctic Midge. My love for and interest in the cold ends of the globe has increased exponentially over the last years. Three young people were sitting just behind me, one having returned from work in Antarctica in the not too distant past, so I butted in on their conversation just to name drop Greenland and express my love of all things ice. As a result another person talked to me on the way out about my desire to go to Antarctica; they were lovely small town exchanges one never has at the multiplexes.

 To be continued with observations about my Sunday morning book club/salon, The Eagle Huntress, Jackie, and Manchester by the Sea. I would talk about The Lobster as well but it’s too painful to think about this early in the morning…in case you were thinking about checking it out for free on Amazon or Netflix…it is not worth the price.





So it’s movie ‘season’ for me. Time for the 20 or 30 films of all Hollywood, Foreign and Documentary variety that will prepare me for Oscar night on February 26th 2017. In a way my joy/pleasure/motivation/sustenance for daily life comes from books (all of the time), movies (during the ‘season,’), Netflix and MOOCs and other online classes. In other words the excellent quality of my life is far more dependent on STORIES, real or imagined, than on everyday food, shelter, work or even people.

Remember I grew up in a very small house in the far north woods of Minnesota where the need to escape January and/or the silence of life among the trees and mosquitoes practically demanded STORIES. Then the escape route was all books but I’ve kept the habit and added movies and cyberspace as a source for my stories over the years.

This annual entertainment/thoughtful-film-viewing splurge will launch tomorrow at the High Ridge Theater with Queen of Katwe the story of a young Ugandan girl who becomes a chess champion. It’s listed in the also-rans of Oscar possibilities but I would want to see it under any circumstances so the fact that it’s in the running just adds to the impetus.

Monday night, it’s the Guild for A Man Called Ove, Sweden’s entry in the foreign film category. It’s getting good ratings but is considered a long shot.

So…I’m excited. I love films of all genres but can’t sustain an interest year round—only by making it all into a project. Projects require lists and schedules and discussions and blog posts, my favorite things…okay then…IT’S SHOWTIME. Tune in for reviews.

*Finally watched Citizen Four, 2015’s best documentary. It is brilliant and frightening, and probably should be required viewing for all political science and history classes. It does leave one with a rather hopeless feeling about the possibility of such a thing as ‘good government’ but best not to go there just before the sleaziest election season in U.S. history—and there’s some serious competition out there—comes to an end.





Sing a song of sixpence,

A pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty blackbirds

Baked in a pie.


When the pie was opened

The birds began to sing—

Wasn’t that a dainty dish

To set before the king?


The king was in the counting-house

Counting out his money,

The queen was in the parlor

Eating bread and honey,


The maid was in the garden

Hanging out the clothes.

Along came a blackbird

And snipped off her nose.

(Poetry Foundation)


The 13th Street (Neset apartment) Oscars Party requires attendees to have seen every Best Picture Nomination and to prepare a dish that fits within the theme of one of them. Susanna and I went to “Birdman” last night, hence the birds-in-a-pie idea.

What a strange and practically wonderful film. There are three main characters (Broadway/Live Theater, Movies and New York City’s Theater District) accompanied by several really great actors in fine fine performances. We loved it for all of that after our years as dance presenters; as movie aficionados (me, mesmerized by movies from the time I was a kid; Susanna, connected through her kid, a most beautiful and talented TV/film actor; and finally as great fans of the great city.

Now, trying to figure out how to define “Birdman” for myself, the phrase that keeps coming to mind is magic realism—not quite as defined by  Gabriel Garcia Marquez , but a sort of grungy 42nd Street version.

The Birdman, Michael Keaton is the ex-superstar hero of film trying to make an impact on Broadway. In spite of his occasional use of some supernatural abilities things do not go well. Well, sometimes they do—like when he’s flying. There are some little love/sex/sexy exchanges between various characters; a rather sentimental, in a very contemporary way, relationship between father and daughter (Emma Stone’s eyes have  magic powers all their own); and lots and lots of references to actors and acting.

In fact, “Birdman” is a story for and about actors and their back-and-forths between Hollywood and Broadway. And successes. And failures. And talent. And abuses.

Age presents its own conundrum as father and daughter play old world, new world in the battle of how to communicate with the world—movie critics and newspapers versus tweeting and trending.

You can tell whether a movie is good by whether you’re still discovering things about it a few days later. “Birdman” has layers and layers to explore; it would almost be worth seeing it again if there weren’t so many more on the list.


More Prancing Ponies, Fewer Bare Butts

Not a movie horse exactly  but living out his pretty pink years at the Crazy Horse Museum in the Black Hills
Not a movie horse exactly but living out his pretty pink years at the Crazy Horse Museum in the Black Hills

SOMETIMES WE GOT TO GO TO THE SHOW. We didn’t call them movies or films or talk about the cinema. We just drove into town and went to the show. Usually westerns I think. But since all of the shows worth my 10-year-old while revolved around horses maybe I’ve just blanked out the occasional musical or romantic comedy to which I must have been subjected.

Have I written about this before? How I tore a picture of Janice Rule out of Susie Olson’s movie magazine and then claimed otherwise.

How I could go to the same show six times when I stayed with my cousin Audrey who sold tickets at the Royal Theater in Northome, Minnesota. Ah…so many Westerns, so many horses, so many years ago.

Now it’s 2014 and there aren’t nearly enough horses in the movies anymore. The Oscar nominees this year were full of bare butts and stupid people tricks, a stolen baby and a rambling old man, a goofy romantic in love with an imaginary girlfriend and a Minneapolis limo driver dramatically in tune with his imaginary cousin, a Somali pirate. And the worst movie of all—full of floating debris and floating Clooney and floating Bullock. And the best movie of all, “Twelve Years a Slave,” which, by the way, was the only one with horses!  See what I mean. Okay so “Dallas Buyers Club” had horses but they couldn’t save it for me—too much Texas all around them.

The second annual Oscar/Food party of 13th Street is now over and a pretty good time was had by all. The food was excellent as was the company. And seeing the pretty Hollywood people is always fun. Somehow though it all seemed rather anti-climatic after two months of cinematic gorging and the frantic last minute viewing of “Her” unfolding at my house as the beautiful people started down the red carpet in California.

Maybe this year I’ll show up at my neighborhood theater once in awhile and avoid a January 1915 binge. Or not.