I decided several years ago that I was no longer going to see movies that were remakes, sequels, based on comic books or based on TV shows. Part of the reason is that I am a middle-aged female and those topics are not of interest to me. The other reason is that all four of those types of movies demonstrate an extreme lack of originality in Hollywood today.
So I want to give brief reviews of the types of movies I see--dramas, an occasional romantic comedy, an occasional children's movie. The first one I am going to talk about is the one I saw this weekend, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.
It was at a second run theater and the entire audience was female, as far as I could tell. There are very few movies designed for female tweens, and Judy Moody was quite enjoyable. It was brightly colored, and had no pop culture references. In fact, the characters never watched TV and never listened to music! They did, however, build elaborate projects in their yard and went hunting for Bigfoot in the nearby woods. I was impressed!
The other detail I liked was that few of the characters had trendy names--Judy, Opal, Frank and James, for example.
For an extremely low-budget movie, Another Earth is not only intriguing, it's beautifully filmed. No special effects except for Earth 2 and its moon in the sky. The poster, based on a scene toward the end, is stunning.
It's about a woman named Rhoda who is out of prison after four years following a horrible drunk driving accident. She finds work housekeeping at a local school, plus she masquerades as a housekeeper for a business so that she can meet the survivor of the horrible wreck. John doesn't realize who she is. He's been suffering severe depression since the accident killed his wife and daughter.
The movie's a little slow in places but otherwise very impressive. I hope it gets expanded to be shown at more theaters other than the art theaters where it's being shown.
The title of "Seven Days in Utopia" is both strange and vague at the same time. It tells you nothing of what the movie is about. It's a GOLF movie, of all things! And it was produced by a Christian company.
The only two familiar actors in the movie are Robert Duvall and Kathy Baker. Duvall plays a retired pro golfer assisting a new golfer who had a meltdown on the pro tour. Duvall lives in a little Texas town called Utopia, and helps the new guy with a week of training, hence the title.
The religious aspects aren't that pervasive--the family says grace before dinner; everyone goes to Easter services; Duvall gives some advice to his protege'. In some ways, the movie is similar to "Soul Surfer," in which religion is a part of the family's everyday life, but no one goes around preaching or giving advice unless asked.
I've seen a number of the Christian-based movies of the past 10 years, and the main problem I've encountered with them hasn't been the low budgets or the occasional preachiness, but rather how stilted they often feel. I felt that way during "Utopia." It's an entertaining little movie and moves very quickly. But the concept of combining conservative Christianity with golf just didn't work well, almost as if there had been two different scripts that were combined. I wonder what would have happened if there had been two different movies made--one about a pro golfer with a disastrous debut and the other about a retired athlete living in a small town?
I am very glad that "The Help" is doing as well as it is. We finally saw it last night. It's been in the theaters for almost two months now, a very long run for a drama/chick flick at a first-run theater.
My friend told me the story was very true to the book, which I have not yet read. The movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes but is never slow and always keeps your interest and does not seem like a long movie. In fact, because of the time period in which it is set, how bright and sharp the film is, and some of the cinematography and scene shots, really do make it look like a Technicolor film from the 1960s. I thought the movie was excellent!
My favorite character was Skeeter's mom, played by Allison Janney. She is neither completely good nor completely evil. Janney stole every scene she was in and I think she should be considered for Best Supporting Actress when Oscar time comes around.