Peg’s review: The Visitor

27 Jan 2009 In: movies, oscar run
Richard Jenkins gets his groove back with a little help from his friends

Richard Jenkins gets his groove back with a little help from his friends

Official websiteIMDB listing

Oscar nomination: Best Actor – Richard Jenkins

This is a quiet little film from Thomas McCarthy, the writer/director of 2003’s The Station Agent, about the power of music to draw us out and connect us. Walter (Richard Jenkins) is a Connecticut college professor who has taught the same class for 20 years and claims to be writing a book, though he’s mostly just avoiding other people. When pressed to present a paper in New York, he finds an immigrant couple has taken up residence in his apartment in the city, and an unlikely friendship results between himself and Tarek (Haaz Sleiman). Just as Tarek begins to teach Walter to play the djembe, an African drum, and “to feel, and to not think,” Tarek is arrested and Walter discovers that he and his girlfriend Zainab (Danai Gurira) are in the country illegally. Walter finds that he is the only person who cares about Tarek that can visit him while in detention, as both Zainab and Tarek’s mother, Mouna, are illegal and can’t risk it.

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Let the Oscar Run begin!

23 Jan 2009 In: movies, oscar run
popcorn-n-tix Now that the Oscar nominees have been announced, it’s time to go see a lot of movies.As I explained in my previous post, I try to watch as many Oscar-nominated movies as humanly possible before the Oscar telecast. That has sometimes meant nearly 40 movies in less than a month.

This year’s list is much more manageable. There are 36 nominated movies (not including shorts), and I’ve already seen 12 of them.

Here’s what I’ll see and how:

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And the nominees are…(and aren’t)

22 Jan 2009 In: movies, oscar run

Have you seen the Oscar nominee list yet? No? Okay, go here and then let’s talk:

81st Annual Academy Awards Nominees

You back? Great. Here are my initial reactions.

  • Dark Knight snubbed! In my opinion, it should have gotten noms for Best Picture, Best Director and one of the screenplay awards. Somebody buy Christopher Nolan a drink, even this early in the morning.
  • How did I overlook Frozen River? Completely missing from my pre-nomination list. Forgive me, Melissa Leo.
  • Damn the costume award! It always makes me see a movie I don’t want to. This year, that’s Australia (shudder).
  • Yay for In Bruges! That was a brilliant but mostly overlooked film that got some love from both the Golden Globes (winner, Colin Farrell, Best Actor in Musical or Comedy) and the Academy (nominee, Original Screenplay). Well done.
  • Nothing for…I’ve Loved You Too Long, Gran Torino, or Burn After Reading. Hmmm.
  • Foreign film noms did not include Let the Right One In. Go see it anyway.

Tomorrow I’ll post my revised “movies to see” list, and in coming days, reviews of Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler.

Oscar Run – (noun) The act of viewing all movies nominated for an Academy Award before the winners are announced. Ex: “There’s only two days left in my Oscar Run, but I still have 10 movies to go.”

I met my husband 10 years ago, and every year since has included an Oscar Run. I blame this on the fact that we met in February: baseball and football seasons were over, we both love movies, the nominees were just announced…hey, let’s go see them all! Whaddya say?

Now it’s like a sickness. We see them ALL. Not just Best Picture nominees, or the major acting awards. All the foreign films. All the animated films. All the nominated films, for every category. (Okay, not the shorts. They’re just too hard to find. If this offends you as a maker of short films, please put your masterpiece on YouTube and I’ll watch it.)

As a result, we’ve seen some great films, many of which we never would have thought to see if they weren’t nominated. Last year the Israeli film Beaufort was in town for one day during the Jewish Film Festival here in San Diego, and tickets cost $20. It was nominated for Best Foreign Film. Yep, we went.

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Musings about movies, music and other things that interest me. Written by Peggy Gartin. Got an opinion? Leave a comment.

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