Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting Ready for the Oscars

Meg and I made it to the cheap seats this past Saturday to see Precious. Simply put, this is American film at its very best. It is unrelenting in its honest portrayal of the black experience and the destructive force that is poverty in this country. Gabourey Sidibe is absolutely brilliant as Clarice "Precious" Jones; her performance is utterly heartbreaking. How she hasn't won every acting award is beyond me. I will have a real problem if she loses the Oscar to Bullock or Streep. She is every bit as good as Mo'Nique, who has dominated the award circuit, and deservedly so. It takes real courage to play a truly disgusting character with such conviction. For me her performance is reminiscent of Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking. I've worked with many kids living in poverty over the years, and breaking the cycle is a herculean effort in our society. Director Lee Daniels has given us a character in Precious Jones who just might be able to do it. Her life is tragic, but watching her struggle to break free is truly inspiring.

Saturday night we watched A Serious Man, the Coen's latest. For the record, I love the Coen brothers. Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski are two of my all-time faves. This one, not so much. Quite frankly, I have a hard time buying it as a best picture nominee. I know the Coens always have some crazy stuff going on in their films, like O Brother being an adaptation of The Odyssey, that kind of thing, and I'm sure there was something going on with this one, especially in light of the beginning sequence and the last scene, but it was too much work to figure it all out. I usually enjoy the Coen's dark sense of humor, but again, not so much in this one. I've read that this is their take on growing up Jewish in Minnnesota, and I'm sure that's true. I'm just not sure what the hell they're trying to say about growing up Jewish in Minnesota. Don't get me wrong, any Coen brothers' movie is required viewing, I just don't think this is one of their best.

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