Monday, June 25, 2012

Movie weekend - Based on a True Story

I’m a bit rusty when it comes to blogging.

It’s just been too long since I updated regularly. Sad, considering I saw the two best movies of the year (decade), The Hunger Games and The Avengers in their opening weekends, loved them enough to shriek about them, and yet.

The entries are coming. Probably next year. Le sigh.

But in order to exercise my blogging muscles, let’s have an entry about the movies I’ve watched this weekend. Some newish, one older. I just finished the book Based on a True Story, which takes movies famously based on a true story, and dissects them. It added a rather large amount of movies to my must-see list, including the first one under the cut.

Without meaning to, the following three movies are all based on true (or could-be-true) events. It was an accident, but a happy one.

If nothing else, this entry may reawaken my love to ramble.


After finishing Lost, I desperately needed something light. So I started Heavenly Creatures. A film about the true story of two teenage girls, Pauline and Juliet, who murder Pauline’s mother.

Light as air.

This is the film debut of Kate Winslet, who is quite sincerely one of the most underrated actresses working today. She was really wonderful in Titanic, but that was such a high powered movie, her performance is one of the last things people talk about.

A few weeks ago, I watched Mildred Pierce. I saw the Joan Crawford movie just within the last year or two, and found it hard to watch simply because I despised Veda. I had the same issue here, but with the miniseries, you’re given more on Mildred herself, instead of just the spoiled brat. And Kate does a fantastic job with that strength and vulnerability.

She and Melanie Lynskey are wondrous in this movie. The friendship between the two was very intense, and obsessive, by all reports, and I think it’s portrayed perfectly here. To the point where I became uncomfortable with the shrieking when they were separated.

Several decades down the road, both women deny the relationship was ever sexual. Considering both of them are heavy religious converts (Catholic and Mormon), this could be seen as selective memory. But really, isn’t murder worse than ::gasp:: liking women?

A very uncomfortable movie, which is what makes it so great. Brava to all performers.


Next on the list was Anonymous. I hadn’t heard much about this movie at the time it was in theaters. My mother actually won a free promotion T-shirt back in January, and while I acknowledged I knew the movie existed, I couldn’t answer when asked what it was about. Nice shirt, though.

I had no idea, up to the point of reading the plot of this movie the last time I got it from the library (too busy with Lost to watch it), that anyone other than Shakespeare himself could have written his plays. Ever since, I’ve done a bit of googling just to read the basic outline of the controversy, and was very excited to get the movie back and watch it finally.

This is a movie with a fantastic cast. It helps (in my case) that three of them are from Harry Potter. But even without that, it’s just a beautiful cast of characters. The obvious stand out is, of course, Rhys Ifans. But I also thoroughly enjoyed Sebastian Armesto, who played Ben Jonson. His part is so huge in the movie, and yet so much of the attention is focused on Oxford and Elizabeth.

Having seen the movie Elizabeth with that awful Cate Blanchett, I was looking forward to a real actress’ interpretation of her. The mother/daughter team of Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson almost washed the horrible taste from that previous movie out of my mouth. I enjoyed the youthful Elizabeth better, but you can’t ever discount the appeal of the crazy factor.

I completely 100% believe this story. Which is what makes historical fiction so enjoyable, and why I love Phillipa Gregory’s Tudor series so much. You want to believe this insanity actually happened, you want to believe that this is the real story, because it’s so dramatic. Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, having bastard offspring who grow up to try and usurp the throne. Not to mention, she’s so far removed from them she ends up bumping uglies with her own son. Which, you know. I make a living from that sort of thing.

And Shakespeare is actually a bumbling, greedy, opportunistic cretin. And the real author is a tragic romantic, stuck in a loveless marriage, unable to tell the world the stories he can’t write down fast enough.

It’s a wonderful story. I would’ve loved to have read it in book form.


The picture to the left should tell you exactly why I sought out The Iron Lady. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, I will watch anything with a Whedon alum in it. Despite the fact that he looks like a…well, there aren’t any words for what he looks like. It’s Anthony Stewart Head, and I would watch him in an adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s life story.

I’m a Britophile, but my knowledge of their history is pretty much confined to the Tudor period. Shameful, I know. My knowledge of Margaret Thatcher consists of knowing she was a Prime Minister, and she was a hard ass.

::crickets chirp::

Yup. That’s my knowledge.

This movie is fantastic. I’m not a Meryl Streep worshipper, though she is a very amazing actress. I’ve only seen a handful of movies she’s been in, mostly because the majority of the plots aren’t appealing to me. Truth be told, my favorite with her is Death Becomes Her. And probably always will be.

She is fabulous in this movie. From the opening shots of her as what turns out to be a broken woman, to the flashbacks of her at the height of power. She plays each aspect of Margaret’s life with grace, and stature. She steals the scenes, and who cares what other actors happen to walk in?

The relationship with her husband is incredibly well played, because I didn’t care about him. Through the whole movie, he was a nuisance. From the cloying young man who asks her to marry him, to the grinning fool cheering her on. You don’t care about him, and you wish he would just go away. And that’s obviously played up for the climax, where he does go away, and Margaret flips out. Her whole life, he’s been background, and when she loses him, it’s shattering. I think that’s just so well done in this film.

I promptly placed Margaret Thatcher’s book on hold after watching this. I want to know more. And that’s what a good Based on a True Story movie is all about.

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