I've actually been watching a few movies over the past couple of weeks, which is unusual lately. And not just that, but I've really enjoyed them too.
- some really great acting in this acclaimed, long and intense drama. Based on the real story of Jeffery Wigand, the tobacco industry exec turned whistle blower and how 60 Minutes warred over showing his expose. At a running time of nearly 2 1/2 hours, it's the longest movie I've watched in a while, but man, was it engrossing. Things turned real ugly for Wigand (brilliantly played by Russell Crowe
), and Al Pacino
actually underplayed his character, Lowell Bergman, a producer for 60 Minutes who fought for the story. Christopher Plummer
as Mike Wallace was also aces. Really loved this movie and highly recommend it. And the Blu-ray version is excellent, really bringing out the spectacular music from Dead Can Dance
's Lisa Gerrard
. This is a great soundtrack.
Next up was another great Blu-ray movie, District 9
. This could be the best Blu-ray movie I have yet seen on my home theater setup. Incredibly crisp visual along with great music and blow-me-away sound effects made for a really nice evening on the couch. And the fact that the movie was suspenseful and gripping didn't hurt at all. This movie tells the story of a huge alien spaceship that hovers of Johannesburg, South Africa, disgorging hundreds of seemingly sick and malnourished "prawns" - ugly looking aliens with faces like shrimp.
Told in a quasi-documentary style (for some of it, anyway), it follows Wikus van der Merwe as he leads the MNU (Multi-National United) forces to relocate the aliens from their current slums just outside the side to somewhere much more comfortable, many miles away. But he gets exposed and starts to turn into a "prawn", with one very important power that leads him to be a pawn in the government power struggle. He then turns to the "prawns" and kind of goes native.
This movie is especially recommended if you like to see people exploded :) There are lots of gory deaths here. My biggest complaint was its constantly shifting styles. For a few minutes, it's told like a documentary film crew is following them. Then it is told thru interviews at some later time. Then it is told via an omniscent camera view. It's never really clear what its "point of view" is at all times, which is a little disconcerting. But the action never lets up long enough for it to really bother. I really liked this movie too, and recommend it.
Finally, last night, as I was heading off to bed, I made the mistake of flipping through the movie channels and there on Sundance was the German movie, The Lives Of Others
(Das Leben der Anderen
). Winner of the 2006 Foreign Language Film Oscar, it is set in East Germany, where a successful dramatist and his actress wife come under secret survellience. Their apartment is bugged and the listening begins, as they try to find some dirt on them. But the listener becomes wrapped up more and more in their private lives, which leads to him to stick his neck out, with some disastrous consequences.
A very intriguing look into the East German Communist state. Very touching, perhaps overly so. Sometimes things were just a little too pat and I would have been happy without the, essentially, epilogue. But a very nice movie.