Stone – 2010

I rarely get out by myself lately.  Being out of work, I don’t have the alone time in the morning and evening that commuting afforded me.  Also, being unemployed means I spend most of my time at home, in front of a computer, sending out resumes and responding to emails from employment agencies.  It’s gotten to the point where I feel a little guilty about any me time I spend doing anything but looking for work.  Which was one of the reasons I decided to keep this blog going.   It’s me time without the guilt.

But today I decided to tell guilt to go screw itself and I left the house alone for something that didn’t involve shopping for food or clothes.  I went to the movies.  I assuaged my guilt by going to the first show, which is almost half-priced, and I didn’t go crazy with theater food.  (Just my usuals:  a large drink, a medium popcorn and a package of Twizzlers.  Most of which I’ll have to give up when I go back to my Gluten-free diet, but more about that in a different post.)  The show was supposed to begin at 11:55am but, of course, we got almost 15 minutes of trailers (which I don’t really mind) and it really started around 12:10pm.  With only three of us in the entire theater (me in the very last row, another woman, probably a handful of years older than me, in the dead center of the theater and a man in his thirties, who kept leaving the theater to take phone calls, sitting up front) I momentarily worried that they’d just show us trailers all afternoon but the film began and it was so wonderfully silent in the theater.

When I watch films at home, I tend to end up with the laptop open, Googling reviews or bios of the actors or other points of interest.  It takes a really compelling film to get me to shut down the computer and just sit and enjoy the film.  So going to the movies was more than my breaking free for a day, it was a test to see how well I could sit through a film without getting fidgety or wanting to go online.  I passed the test.  I credit the film with that, though.

While there was no real action, I found the film compelling from start to finish.  It took a little getting used to, seeing Robert De Niro play a man so beaten down by life.  I called his performance “understated” to friends but it was so much more than that.  No matter what film he’s in, De Niro always seems to be the tough guy, whether it’s obvious or hidden under a façade and, in spite of the event that opens the film, his character has none of that.  Sure, he acts tough to his prisoners, but it’s obviously forced.  I couldn’t help thinking over and over during the film, “De Niro finally looks human.  He can’t be the tough guy forever.”  This bummed me out.  I often criticize De Niro for over-acting.  I feel like his movies are hit or miss.  Either he’s chewing the scenery to death or he’s so brilliant I can’t believe what I’m watching.  In this film he does neither, yet I was still fascinated to watch him and see where  his character went.  So, in a way, I guess he was quietly brilliant to me.

On the other side of the desk sat Edward Norton.  I could watch Edward Norton just sit in a chair and not say a word.  I’d pay to watch that.  So being any kind of critical of Norton is tough for me.  I have no way to know if his accent was a good one (being from Boston I’m overly sensitive to the accuracy of accents.  There is definitely a best/worst Boston accent in Hollywood post coming. Julianne Moore should take notice.) but it sold me.  Although his cornrows reminded me more of Bronson Arroyo than  a hardened criminal, it was a small price to pay for his amazing presence on the screen.  Norton will never get the props he deserves.  Hell, Primal Fear came out fourteen years ago and people are still comparing his performances today to that film.  Regardless, he is one of my favorite actors of my generation.  (And he’s less than a year younger than me, which pleases me.  It’s nice to not be thinking of myself as the old lady when I’m watching a film.)  Those eyes.  Man those blue eyes are just amazing.  What he can do with his eyes is a gift from God.

(I just re-read my entry about Red Dragon, the only other Norton film I’ve covered here so far and it cracks me up that two of the things I focus on in that as well are his hair and his eyes. I’m not always this shallow.)

The two female leads held their own with characters that aren’t particularly appealing (really, none of the characters in this story are appealing, which lends to my surprise in how much I enjoyed it).  Francis Conroy is, as always, understated and wonderful and I was stunned at how well I thought Mila Jovovich worked her character.  I don’t normally like Jovovich.  Hell, I can’t believe how many films she’s actually been in.  But this time around she was believable and REAL.  I know there have been a lot of bad reviews about the acting in this film…but I couldn’t disagree more.

So it was time well spent even if I wasn’t compelled to applaud at the end and even though I left the theater less jovial than when I walked in.  Movies don’t always have to be happy to make you pleased you spent the time watching them.  Today, I was very pleased that I took the time to watch.

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