the week's movies

We started out the new year by going to see Eragon last Sunday -- I have been a fan of dragon stories ever since I was quite young and was given Rosemary Manning's novel Green Smoke to read. (Which sadly seems to be out of print.) And then of course I moved on to the Anne McCaffrey books, etc. I haven't read the novel of Eragon yet, but the story deftly blends several satisfying genres -- and the CGI dragon hatchling is awfully darn cute. If you like coming-of-age fantasy heroism mixed with boy-and-his-dog stories -- then it's got all you need. (Plus Jeremy Irons and John Malkovitch!)

Then we finally made it to see Volver, which easily has made it into my top five Almodovar films. Penelope Cruz is fantastic--beautiful, wounded, strong -- you realize how limited she's been in Hollywood due to casting stereotypes and language issues. There's lots of homage being paid to various classic films, but the film stands well on its own for a less educated film viewer (that would be me, in conversation afterwards realizing I didn't catch a bunch of references to movies I've never seen). More feminist, and sweeter than many of Almodovar's earlier films, it focuses on the layers of betrayal and resentment that come between mothers and daughters -- and offers these characters a chance to repair their relationship. Yes, it's a bit far fetched in some regards -- but the emotional devastation of abuse is carefully handled. I strongly recommend it.

And then yesterday we saw Notes on a Scandal, which is also really well done. Judi Dench is such a convincing wolf in Grandma's clothing -- the first person voiceovers in this film are quite effective (since she's a diarist) in alternately persuading and appalling you. The corrosive effects of loneliness, the smugness of the married, the overinvestment and miscommunication in new friendships -- all very realistically handled, and nestled within a plot that neatly destabilizes simple binaries of predator and victim. Neither of the two protagonists is wholly sympathetic nor wholly unsympathetic -- and that's the point. Another strong recommendation.

Since I often get to the end of a year and can't properly remember all the films I've seen, I'm going to try to record them more systematically here, even if very briefly. On DVD this week we finished season 2.5 of BSG (does anyone know if they are going to repeat the first half of season 3 before restarting it later this month? We got the dish TV midway through the fall season and didn't want to start watching midstream but now we'd really like to catch up), watched the pilot episode of 90210 (I'm still reserving judgment, since pilots are always kind of tedious, but the clothes are hilarious), and a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. We're still all about the TV shows on DVD.