Movie post.

I can’t tell you how much praise I read about “Half Nelson” before finally getting it at Blockbuster the other night. Ryan Gosling got an Oscar nomination for his performance, and the thing picked up a whole bunch of other nominations and statues. I was really looking forward to it.

It’s the story of a talented inner-city teacher who is hiding a secret that is revealed about 10 minutes into the script and also in the trailer, so here it is: He’s a drug addict. A crackhead, specifically.

Well. It’s not that it wasn’t good, exactly. I mean, if you like feature films that move very slowly, are shot entirely in ShakyCam and don’t have a whole lot of talking, you’re going to love this. But I remembered a lesson from my screenwriting class. Our teacher said your story won’t be satisfying if the main character doesn’t change, and then we discussed degrees of change. It’s more believable for a character to change from A to B (flawed person starts to understand how his behavior affects others, and makes a move in the direction of changing; see “You Can Count on Me”) than A to Z (flawed person sees error of ways, makes 180-degree turn and is reborn as a totally different person; see “Tuesdays With Morrie”). In “Half Nelson” — and I really don’t thing this counts as a spoiler — Gosling changes from A to…A.1, say. He doesn’t get all the way to B. He shaves. This seems to be the big change.

I found it fascinating to watch, but oddly unsatisfying, for exactly that reason.

Because I think my tastes in pictures are at least small-c catholic, though, I took Kate to see “Hairspray” this afternoon. It was too long by about 20 percent, and John Travolta couldn’t fill Divine’s girdle, but otherwise, it wasn’t a total waste of time for a mom and a kid to see on a rainy afternoon. And I caught the John Waters cameo, which was amusing and appropriate. Did you?

This will be the final post for this week — another mini-hiatus planned, this one to scramble some deadline eggs. I might pop in from time to time, but no more that that until Monday. Hey, it’s August. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.

Posted at 3:23 pm in Housekeeping, Movies |

34 responses to “Movie post.”

  1. Dorothy said on August 7, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Haven’t seen either of those movies, but I did get to see “Bourne Ultimatum” this Sunday and it rocked. I went to see it (1) because I wanted to, and really liked the two preceeding movies and (2) to get out of the house while my realtor had an open house. No one came.

    OTH I had a phone interview with Kenyon College yesterday, and tomorrow I have one more “exercise” at 1:30 PM. I hope to be offered the job by the end of the day tomorrow. Ohio, here I come!!!

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  2. Julie Robinson said on August 7, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    John Waters was the flasher, natch. And without a gay man playing the mother’s role, apparently no one thought of having Travolta wear long, polished nails–his hands screamed masculinity. But I’m such a sucker for all musicals that I loved it anyway.

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  3. joodyb said on August 7, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Go Dorothy! Sending good thoughts and images of the blessed Paul Newman your way.
    (very excited about “ultimatum” for my spouse. he loved the other 2 also. he deserves a good movie this summer. and then there’s David Straithairn!)

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  4. MichaelG said on August 7, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    I saw the Devine “Hairspray” and loved it. You must see “Lust in the Dust”. Same people.
    Here in Sacramento we had a new record high temp for the date yesterday. It was 74 degrees. A world record for the lowest peak temp ever recorded in Sac on August 6. Howboutdat.

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  5. LA mary said on August 7, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    It’s been cool and cloudy here too, MichaelG. The evenings are so nice. Next week it’s back to normal, I fear.

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  6. Heather said on August 7, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Didn’t you think the girl (can’t remember her name) in Half-Nelson was amazing, though? Ryan Gosling got a lot of (deserved) praise, but I thought her performance was even more impressive, especially given her youth and inexperience.

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  7. nancy said on August 7, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    The girl (Shareeka Epps) was, indeed, amazing. I thought she out-acted Gosling, and yes, given her age it was doubly so. That reflects well on the director, so he gets that much.

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  8. Dorothy said on August 7, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    David Straithairn makes me go weak in the knees…! Love his voice and his eyes – oh hell, the whole package.

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  9. brian stouder said on August 7, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Well, Grant turned 12 today, and he chose to go to the movies. The movie he chose was Hot Rod, which was so dumb that it made me laugh a few times…and it had Sissy Spacek in it. For a long while we were the only folks in the theater (it had a 7:35 start time, and the previews didn’t start rolling ’till 7:50, and the movie didn’t begin until 8:10…not that I was checking the time all that closely), but at the top of the hour people started rolling in (they apparently knew the drill on show times at the Rave). I think about 30 people were in attendance, and I was easily the oldest person in there, by a factor of 2.5.

    Anyway, we paid full price for a movie that will be $8 in the dvd bin at WalMart in a few weeks, but Grant now has bragging rights for awhile, amongst his buddies. Plus, we hit Cold Stone Creamery on the way out, so life is good!

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  10. John said on August 8, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Was John Waters wearing a merkin (or a chicken neck) in his scene? I probably will see “Hairspray” one day, but the original is just sooooo good and is more than enough for me. I have the “Lust in the Dust” dvd and love it too. It’s not just that Divine was great in it but Tab Hunter, Lainie Kazan, Geoffrey Lewis and Cesar Romero were fabulous and the movie is a great way to laugh off a rainy day.

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  11. Nick said on August 8, 2007 at 7:36 am

    I disagree with Julie’s assertion that a there wasn’t a gay man playing Edna Turnblad. While JT is certainly no Divine, no one has ever looked so convincing dancing in a fat suit.

    I didn’t mind the 2 1/2 hr. run time, but I would have preferred that they left in the jail house number “The Big Dollhouse”.

    Did you catch not really amusing or appropriate Ricki Lake cameo?

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  12. MichaelG said on August 8, 2007 at 8:05 am

    The weather has been great, Mary. (As far as I’m concerned you’re the original Mary). The average for Aug 6 is 93 and the record high high is 108. We’re looking at mid 80’s today. I’ll take it! For once nobody’s complaining about the weather. Looks like all the heat floated back east.
    Now they have some kind of bogus “heat index”. So while yesterday’s high in Houston is listed as 96, on the tube this AM they said that it officially “felt like 113”. So there you are. The temp is really whatever you feel like it is.

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  13. alex said on August 8, 2007 at 8:10 am

    And it does feel like 100-something around here, Michael.

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  14. nancy said on August 8, 2007 at 8:19 am

    I missed Ricki Lake. Since she lost all that weight, I really don’t recognize her at all. What was her cameo?

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  15. Danny said on August 8, 2007 at 9:16 am

    The original Hairspary was great and let’s not forget Deborah Harry was in it too. Don’t see why it needed an update. Hollywood. Go figure.

    We thought Bourne was so-so. Not as good as the original (I see an emerging theme in this post) and the jerky camera may give you an epileptic siezure.

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  16. Marie said on August 8, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Ultimatum was great, although not as great as I expected, if that makes any sense. I think it was because, as Danny mentioned, the ShakyCam made us almost toss our cookies in our near-front-row seats. I mean, the entire thing was non-stop ShakyCam.

    The writers did a good job tying up the loose ends, but I would have appreciated a bit more suspense/intrigue and a bit less chase/fight scenes. (Those scenes seemed to last forever, especially when shot in ShakyCam.)

    (“ShakyCam” is my new favorite expression, if you can’t tell…!)

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  17. Dorothy said on August 8, 2007 at 9:49 am

    I agree about the camera stuff, Danny. I read something about that ahead of time so I was sort of mentally prepared. Still – it was not easy to watch some of the time.

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  18. MichaelG said on August 8, 2007 at 9:50 am

    There you go, Alex!

    The TV weather people aren’t reporting on the weather, they’re consensus building. Although they are leading you when they tell you it should feel like XX degrees. Me, I’ll take, oh, let’s see, umm, 83 today.

    One thing that bugs me about so many movies and TV shows is that dim blue light stuff. Like they ran out of money when it came to the lighting budget and that was all they could afford.

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  19. LA mary said on August 8, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Debbie Harry was perfect for that part.

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  20. Joe K said on August 8, 2007 at 10:47 am

    I don’t care what anyone say’s it is damn hot and humid here in Indiana. Probably Bushes fault somehow. All I know is I am tired of fighting thunderstorms all night when I am flying. Ask Ms.Nancy about last night just east of Detroit about 9:00pm the sky was on fire.
    Retired factory rat.
    Full time charter pilot

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  21. Danny said on August 8, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Joe, I forgot to say congratulations on the post-retirement piloting! Be safe.

    Hey, if the weather is too hot for you, fly on out here to San Diego. As everyone’s saying, it’s been nice here in Cali.

    I’ll buy first round.

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  22. nancy said on August 8, 2007 at 11:45 am

    Just remember: Friends don’t let friends drink and fly.

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  23. Danny said on August 8, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Nancy, if you go see any movies in your brief hiatus, that Die Hard flick is the best of the summer, imo.

    In keeping with what all of the “cool kids” are doing, I decided to go on a nice forty-miler yesterday. I might try it again today if schedule permits. I have been stoked since last weekend (when I again worked both days) because I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. After eight months of 60-hour weeks it is coming to an end soon. My deadlines are met. WooHoo!

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  24. Dorothy said on August 8, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Hey kids – I just got a phone call about 30 minutes ago. I got the job at Kenyon College!!!! I’m more psyched than you can imagine! Details to follow – suffice to say I’m on my way to Ohio in about 3 weeks and 3 days!!

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  25. alex said on August 8, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Congrats, Dorothy!

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  26. Danny said on August 8, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Way to go, Dorothy. Hope your home sells soon for a great price too!

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  27. nancy said on August 8, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Yes, congrats as well, Dorothy. Remember to pack a camera in your desk for any Paul Newman visits.

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  28. joodyb said on August 8, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Yay Dorothy! I knew you’d get it. congrats.

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  29. LA mary said on August 8, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Great news, Dorothy. I’m sure that takes some of the worries away.

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  30. MichaelG said on August 8, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    It makes everyones’ day!

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  31. brian stouder said on August 8, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Congratulations Dorothy! One can only imagine the elation/relief.

    (last time I got a new job was 21 years ago!)

    Looking forward to hearing more

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  32. Nick said on August 8, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Ricki was one of the judges in the dance contest scene. I wouldn’t have noticed if my bride hadn’t mentioned it to me.

    P.S. to Danny, Hollywood didn’t update the Hairspray the movie, Hollywood shot the Broadway musical for the big screen. It brings Waters to a wider audience and lines his wallet, so I’m all for it.

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  33. Dorothy said on August 8, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks friends!!! (Nance – there’s always the cell phone with the camera inside!!) But I seriously doubt Mr. Newman darkens the doorways on campus much. But you never know…!

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  34. joodyb said on August 8, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    More than most people would think, Dorothy~!

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