Monday, August 15, 2011

Best of the Week: 'Crazy Stupid Love,' 'King's Speech,' 'Rescue Me' & Two Books on Controversial Issues


Crazy Stupid Love: I thoroughly loved seeing Crazy Stupid Love this weekend. It touched me and was emotionally affecting, so much more than an insipid, garden variety romantic comedy.

Steve Carell has again proven that he has acting chops beyond simply making us empathize with his characters’ awkward discomforts or laugh at the insane behavior that his fictional alter egos demonstrate in The Office or Anchorman. As the freshly-dumped and deeply wounded Cal Weaver, a dad of three whose wife of several decades has given him the boot, Carell was vulnerable and not in a ham-handed kind of way. His performance was like eating a big handful of those Sour Skittles you buy in the theater where the boxes are approximately the size of toaster: They’re tart at the beginning (like when Cal was publically moping around in the immediate aftermath of being dumped) and sweet in its core (like when Cal was clandestinely was tending to his backyard under cover of darkness or was recreating an old date with his estranged wife).

Ryan Gosling, who was the slick babe magnet with the uber-chic duds, was enjoyable to watch as well, which surprised me because I figured I’d loathe his character and judge him as smarmy and shallow, an over-cologned empty suit. But, turns out, he wasn’t. For her part, Julianne Moore was subtle and muted yet under-developed, while observing Emma Stone in action was like watching a glass of bubbly champagne come to life.

A grown-up love story that lived up to the critics’ raves, I echo their plaudits (Entertainment Weekly gave it an A) and recommend it to anyone who’s sick of romantic comedies that make you feel as though you have fewer brain cells upon leaving the theater than you did when you walked in.

The King’s Speech: I’ll admit it, I went into watching this Oscar winning film feeling as though I had to complete a homework assignment. Like being forced to read The Crucible.

However the movie turned out to be okay, in fact, better than okay. I was seriously tired when I sat down to watch The King’s Speech and completely expected I’d fall asleep, like I did when I watched The Queen after Helen Mirren won her Oscar for starring in that film. But I stayed awake through the whole thing. (And no, I didn’t use caffeine or other substances to do so.)

Colin Firth definitely earned his Oscar for winning depiction of King George VI heroically working on controlling his speech impediment and rising to the occasion when his country needed him on the cusp of World War II. Firth was just the right combination of intelligent, angry, mortified and courageous. It was an inspiring tale that wasn’t at all a cinematic version of Ambien.


To be honest, I haven’t watched a ton of TV outside of Red Sox games and episodes of Six Feet Under on DVD in preparation to write my contributions to Clique Clack TV’s Six Feet Under Week.
The one currently-airing show that I saw this week which resonated with me was Rescue Me, reviewed here. It was refreshing to see Tommy take charge of things and not screw up, not get drunk, not lose any kids. And nobody died. But the best of all was Sheila stepping up to the plate and saving the reputations of all the guys at her late husband’s firehouse and the members of her family from the nasty campaign of character assassination that was being waged by an ill-intentioned TV reporter trying to carve a career out of someone else’s hide. Sheila’s take-down was a satisfying thing to watch.


While I continued to read the third installment of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, I finished Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner and Milkshake by Joanna Weiss, two books which tackled the controversial issues of surrogacy and breastfeeding. (I reviewed them both for ModernMom/Mommy Tracked.)

Both were swift, entertaining reads, although Weiss’ provided sarcastic laughter as it humorously satirized not only the extremists in the pro- and anti-breastfeeding crowds, but also political campaigns which expropriate issues about which they could care less about in an attempt to lure votes.

What did you read/watch this week that you loved or hated?

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