But! I said I'd talk about some of the movies I've seen lately, and there've been a bunch.
Boykissing movies first:
Beautiful Thing is one of those little British movies with loud, colorful characters and in which not much of anything happens. Two teenaged boys try to find their place in a world that doesn't quite fit them, and perhaps find each other along the way. Now, there are events in the movie that should feel like big happenings, but don't quite have the emotional punch you'd expect. It's the presentation equivalent of "burying the lead" in writing, and it creates a sort of detachment, which makes the movie kind of flat. This movie is unaccoutably rated "R"-- it seems PG-13 to me. I'm grateful that things didn't go beyond kissing for the boys, due to their ages (don't judge me! I'm a parent!). However, I don't recall anyboy else in the movie getting up to any R-rated business-- things were implied, but not shown. Not a great movie overall (2.5 stars for me), though I did like the mother's boyfriend much better than I probably was supposed to. He was sort of a free spirit, but he was kind-hearted and he had more perspective than anyone, I thought.
Red Dirt was frustrating, start to finish. Very slowly paced, a touch too far into 'Southern Gothic' melodrama, and one of those "gay-positioned" movies where the only sex is Het (this is a pet peeve of mine. If someone's going to cross the line into major sex, it probably shouldn't be the Het side). The main character is a young man named Griffith, who keeps saying that he needs to move away but drags his feet about it every single step. His cousin Emily wants to keep him there-- she's in love with him, and they've slept together over the years as well as being best friends, so she has every reason for not wanting to let him go. There's the "crazy aunt" (played rather broadly by Karen Black-- I fast-forwarded through several of her scenes). And then a stranger comes to town, and shakes things up a little bit for everyone. Walton Goggins, as the stranger, was the most likeable person in the movie. The rest became frustrating over time, and there were only about 8 people ever shown (the incest in the movie is a metaphor for the stagnation and claustrophobia in these people's lives). I wanted to like this movie more, and I can take a slower pace (Big Eden! I still love it!) But this one was a waste of time. :(
Atonement was kind of disappointing too. I liked James McAvoy very much in this (what a busy last few years he's had), but that was about it. Keira Knightley's character started the movie as an unrelenting bitch, and it was hard to see what anyone would find attractive about her. Not to mention wishing she'd put on more clothes, because there has never been an era in which that degree of boniness has been appealing, even now. I didn't like the ending at all, which belied the entire supposed theme of the story, and I wound up feeling like I was one step short of being assaulted by some piece of "Wind Beneath My Wings" contrived silliness. I.e., what started as a drama seemed to turn into a chick-flick, and I'm not big on those as a rule. Still feeling "Meh" about it.
Amazing Grace was better (and different) than I had expected. Ioan Gruffud stars as a man whose lifework consists of trying to abolish the slave trade in Britain. There is some question of whether he'll finish that job, or it will finish him (the stress and repeated defeats have affected his health). Lots of marvelous actors here in roles of varying sizes, and a great collection of voices: Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, and most especially Benedict Cumberbatch (unfortunate name, but fantastic voice. Also in "Atonement," playing an entirely different kind of character). This was a good story, dramatic but never mawkish, and interesting through to the end. Definitely worth seeing.
On a really immature note, do you ever wish you could ask actors really terrible personal questions and get an answer? Not something like "So, why don't you come out of the closet already?", exactly, but obnoxious all the same? Ioan Gruffudd brings that out in me: "So, given that both your first and last name are variants of fairly common Welsh names, what compelled your family to go for the off-the-wall spelling? Is this the Welsh equivalent of naming your son Mykel?" I see that there are a few other historical Gruffudds, but that name is SO common as Gryffydd. I'm not even sure it's pronounced the same way with the "u" spelling-- looks like "GREE-feeth" instead of "Gri-fith." But more to the point... Welsh ALREADY has 3 versions of "John," including "Iain." Why pick a version that matches "Johann" instead? I wonder about the parents...
Baby Mama. Only because we ran out of things to see at the theatre (already saw Indy#4 and Iron Man). No spoilers here, but slightly better than I'd expected. Kind of funny, off and on. Nice contrast between income classes (the overly nervous, overly-prepared, overly-everything woman with money, and the woman who subsists on Dr. Pepper and Tastycakes and lives day-to-day in general). Thank goodness for the wide middle ground...