When I decided to move to Whitehorse last fall, I made a few (just a few) conscious sacrifices — among them, I knew that I was giving up access to a wide selection of movies on the big screen. This may not seem like a big deal in the era of NetFlix and illegal downloads, but for me it was an important item on the pro/con list. I’ve been a serious movie-goer ever since my allowance got big enough to cover my admission*, and I knew going in that Whitehorse’s two small theaters deal almost exclusively in kids’ movies and bad action/horror flicks, respectively. But I decided I could live with seeing my preferred films on DVD a few months late, and off I went.
So with all that in mind, a year later I was surprised to find that I’ve actually seen a handful of the movies in this list from the Atlantic: 13 Movies to See Before the Oscars. I caught “127 Hours” in New York City in November, but the other three — “The Social Network,” “Winter’s Bone” and “The Kids Are Alright” (all listed as additional worthy films below the main slideshow) — all screened right here in Whitehorse**.
I’d written a bit about “127 Hours” on World Hum during the lead-up to its release, and I was pleased to find out that it lived up (for me, at least) to all the hype. The writing was solid, the devices used to people the film with characters and action (as opposed to having us literally spend two hours with a man with his arm stuck under a rock) rarely felt gimmicky, and James Franco was charismatic and likeable as Aron Ralston. Plus, oh boy, is Utah pretty or what?
If there was a category for Best Family Movie — as in, Best Movie About How Families Really Are — then I’d nominate “The Kids Are Alright.” Given its subject matter (it’s about a daughter, raised by a lesbian couple, who goes looking for her sperm donor dad) I’m sure some people will be looking for a political message, or hoping to embrace/condemn it as “progressive” or some such, but for me it was just a really, really well constructed movie about family. Well written and brilliantly acted and thoroughly enjoyable.
“The Social Network” has gotten a ton of media attention this year, of course, mostly focused on its accuracy. But I’m not especially concerned with the truth of it — I don’t much care if Mark Zuckerberg is more or less of a jerk than he’s made out to be, or whether Sean Parker really parties with underage girls, or any of the rest. Entirely accurate or not, I thought it was a great story, told well, about ambition and friendship and the lure of peer acceptance/admiration and all that. At the end of the day, Zuckerberg (as envisioned by Aaron Sorkin and Jesse Eisenberg and David Fincher, at least) is a permanent outsider even while creating the ultimate clique machine, and I think that’s a fascinating thing to watch.
Lastly, “Winter’s Bone.” Whoa. This was easily one of the best movies I’ve seen in, oh, a couple years at least. It’s about a teenage girl in the Ozarks whose meth-cooking father is on the run from the police — she has to find him before she and her young siblings are turned out of their house, which he put up for his bond. It’s grim and violent and exciting and depressing and just really well done all around.
So that’s it — call it my own Four Movies You Should See Before the Oscars. I’m just thrilled that I’m not still waiting to see them all on DVD.
* Seriously. On one glorious winter evening when I was 12 or 13, I found $120 in a snow bank – and promptly spent $60 of it on movie tickets. (The rest was split between a hardcover novel and a beanbag chair for reading the novel in.)
** “The Social Network” was a big enough draw that it played here for a couple weeks on its own terms, but the other two were both one-off Sunday afternoon screenings, part of Landmark Cinemas’ art series. So thanks, Landmark, and please keep it going!