You-review-it Monday: Oscar-nominated films and more

February 22, 2010
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Missed Bela Fleck at Clowes. Missed Loretta Lynn at Ball State. Missed the one-actor plays at the IRT (although I plan on getting to see "The Year of Magical Thinking" this week) and at the Phoenix. Missed the Fringe-fest revivals at Theatre on the Square. Missed the Troika performance with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

I actually think it's a good sign, though, that there's so much going on around here that I want to get to but can't. And that's just one weekend.

What I did do was catch Time for Three with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for its raucous Happy Hour concert/party on Thursday. (How many times have you seen a symphony concert where the conductor is whistled at by an audience member?) I also hosted Storytelling Arts' annual benefit on Saturday, having fun with last-minute-subbing tale-teller Andy Offutt Irwin.

I also continued my quest to see as many of the Oscar nominated films as I can. This weekend, it was "A Serious Man" (up for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay) and "Moon" (which I mistakenly thought was up for a screenplay nod). I'm still wrestling with the former, which at times infuriated me but which, ultimately, might end up as the underdog that I root for. Not that it has a chance. Another critic noted that it's the kind of film that you're allowed to do after you win an Oscar for Best Picture and that's a pretty apt description not of what it is, but why it is. I'm thankful there wasn't a temptation to pack the film with stars, as was one of the many problems with the Coen's "Burn After Reading." This one is harsh, but not nearly as cruel. And, unlike "No Country for Old Men," its final moments match the tone of the rest of the film.

Can you tell I'm deliberately not saying much about content? I went in cold. You should, too. Just know that, even though "A Serious Man" is billed as a comedy, you shouldn't go in looking for laughs.

As for "Moon," well, it's the smartest science fiction film I've seen in a long time. And it's another that you definitely want to go in knowing as little as possible. It reminded me of some of the better SF tales I read in my teens.

And your weekend?

  • So how was it?...
    Hey, Lou â??
    So how was that Andy Offutt Irwin show, anyway?
    It was a hoot working with you, sir. Here's to more â?? Andy
  • Moon
    Coincidentally, watched "Moon" this weekend, too, and LOVED it. Great lower-budget indy film.

    Not too crazy about the Coen Brothers' snark, so not sure if I'll check out "A Serious Man."
  • Serious Man

    I've been hit and miss with the Coen duo.

    And while I was knocked out by "A Serious Man," I hesitate to actually recommend it. I can certainly understand people throwing up their hands over it, abandoning it along the way, or flat out hating it.

    Trust your instincts,

  • Moon
    Also saw Moon this weekend, as well as Up In The Air. Agree with you on Moon, and do not see how it didn't get some sort of nod. The effects and creativity on such a low budget are striking. A must see for sure. Up In The Air was great as well. Particularly poignant as my boyfriend was laid off last April and is still struggling to find a full-time position. Clooney and Kendrick are excellent. Thanks for your reviews!
  • Oscar check-off
    I also spent the weekend in pursuit of Oscar hopefuls. Watched A Serious Man (definitely NOT comedy) and District 9 (is it a guy thing? Seriously, I just couldn't wait for it to end. Best Picture???). Went to see The Last Station and loved that. Really, really great performances. Almost made me want to read War and Peace.
  • Rube Goldberg
    I've always thought the Rube Goldberg competition at Purdue would be fun to see in person, but as it turns out, not so much. It's just not set up to be spectator-friendly. And they don't even sell t-shirts! C'mon, Purdue--this would be a good way to get potential students and their parents to campus.
  • Bela Rocked the House
    Those expecting a traditional Bela show didn't get it. They got a lot more. Eight African musicians sang, danced, played N'gonis (the precursor to the banjo) and harmonized with Bela's genius. The full house at Clowes was treated to a rare show of world-class worldbeat, and the sound was ethereal.
    • BACH & friends
      Hi Lou: I have completed a new film on Bach which was released on DVD just last week. I am writing in hopes that you might consider reviewing this new production â?? BACH & friends.

      The two-hour documentary features Joshua Bell, Bobby McFerrin, Philip Glass, Béla Fleck, Hilary Hahn, Edgar Meyer, Simone Dinnerstein, Chris Thile, Manuel Barrueco, The Swingle Singers, John Bayless, Matt Haimovitz, Peter Schickele, Richard Stoltzman and the Emerson String Quartet. These world-class Bach players share their innermost thoughts and personal reflections on the power and genius of Bachâ??s music and perform some of his greatest masterpieces.

      I am a Peabody graduate turned filmmaker and have written, produced, and directed over twenty documentaries, including productions for PBS, CNN and HBO. I received an Emmy nomination and my films have been honored by dozens of awards from major film festivals around the world.

      The three-year journey of making BACH & friends started at the EG'07 conference and returned this year to Monterey for EG's celebration of it's completion. Representing BACH & friends, Richard Stoltzman played the Chromatic Fantasy to a standing ovation. Last year at EG, Joshua Bell played the Chaconne.

      Unbelievably, this year Josh caught an early morning flight to Monterey the day after his wonderful Live From Lincoln Center PBS broadcast and arrived in time to also represent BACH & friends at EG. Lots of interest and Buzz. It couldn't have gone better.

      If you are interested in a promo DVD, please email me your address and I will send one along.

      Warm regards,

      Mike Lawrence
    • Agreed!
      Can't say it any better than this. Bela Fleck's concert was fantastic. Each musician was wonderful on their own and the fusions were really interesting.

      Thanks, Lou. I wouldn't have known the concert was happening without you mentioning it.
    • Bravo Bela!
      Bela's concert was amazing. The two highlights - the solo piece that kicked off the first act where Bela masterfully bended pitches with his tuning pegs, and the first super funky piece by Bassekou Kouyate and his Ngoni band.
    • Oscar mode
      I'm also in Oscar mode and trying to see as many nominated movies as I can in the next couple of weeks. This weekend, I saw An Education...and loved it.

      There was not a minute of the movie that didn't feel genuine.

      Next up (after reading your review and others' comments), A Serious Man!!
    • Just like a car wreck
      Watched "The Hurt Locker" this weekend. Still not sure what I think - whether it's one I'd recommend to others. I'm drawn to films about the U.S. in Iraq, whether it's this or "The Kingdom." I haven't seen enough films to know which should win, although I don't think "Avatar" should. It was beautifully done, but it's not a new story really. With so many films up for best picture, how will that affect the voting?
    • Shuddering over "Shutter"
      I can curl up in a ball if I even think about a scary movie. So I was a little surprised when I actually agreed to go see "Shutter Island." This is the kind of movie that you (breathlessly) hope ends soon so you can understand what's happening. Then when it ends, you realize you have to come back and watch it again so you can pick up on all the clues you overlooked when you were simply trying to figure out what was really going on.
      I liked it. I want to see it again.
      And it didn't creep me out like other scary movies - although I avoid the really scary ones so I may not offer the best barometer on where this falls on the scary-movie spectrum.

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