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January 7, 2011 Comments Off on The Movies Column: Country Strong – don’t call it a comeback Views: 996 Arts & Entertainment, Film

The Movies Column: Country Strong – don’t call it a comeback

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Mine is to see more good movies. Unfortunately Oscar season has already passed. With the exception of Blue Valentine, this week starts the season of Hollywood filler – the films the studios push when they have modest confidence in box-office success and little Oscar attention. Lucky for us, Seattle offers a bevy of alternative cinema offerings to keep us entertained during the winter months ahead.

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HATE! I mean LOVE!

Country Strong, directed by Shana Feste, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Leighton Meester, and Garrett Hedlund. Paltrow plays “loony toons” fallen country singer Kelly Canter that needs the help of rising song-writer (Hedlund) to put her back on top. Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester and real-life country singer Tim McGraw support. Is it wrong to call this a Paltrow comeback vehicle? So what if it was a self-imposed sabbatical. Apple is done being raised – fed three square meals a day, thank you very much. GOOP is a resounding success – everything she touches is a success. She’s back in touch with her American roots – sorry Chris. Now she’s gonna win her way back into American hearts by becoming a bona fide country singer. While Country Strong certainly won’t be the next Nashville or Coal Miner’s Daughter, I would peg it in close company with Walk the Line, but not as bad as Rhinestone in the country-rock film cannon. Some of the unfavorable reviews compare it to a made for Lifetime TV movie. But what if you really enjoy made for Lifetime TV movies? Imagine if Lifetime had budgets and could get A-list actors. Where can I buy tickets?

Love and heartbreak indie-rock style

Blue Valentine, directed by Derek Cianfrance, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Some critics consider it the most depressing movie of the year. Maybe that’s your thing. A love and out of love story for shoe-gazing urban bohemians – this has Seattle written all over it. Blue Valentine’s positive reviews particularly single out Gosling and Williams’ compelling performances that expertly convey the different stages of a doomed relationship. For the oldest story in the world, it’s perhaps the closest to an original retelling.

Season of the Witch, directed by Dominic Sena, starring Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman. Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman play knights returning from the Crusades when they find their medieval hamlet has a witch infestation. Uh-oh. Apparently this is loosely based on Bergman’s crusaders battle the plague drama the Seventh Seal. Uh-oh again. The reviews: not so good. Metacritic gives it 30 out of 100. Luckily I will be spared from watching this one, because of my resolution to never watch a new action movie starring Nicolas Cage (made after seeing The Wicker Man) and to never ever watch a movie with even a speck of CGI in it (made after seeing Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland).

Seattle Screenings

Crawford - a woman with problems

As a tie-in with Seattle Art Museum’s Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, they will screen Merchant Ivory’s Surviving Picasso (1996), starring Anthony Hopkins, Natascha McElhone, Julianne Moore. Friday (tonight) at 7:30pm at SAM’s Plestcheef Auditorium.

Later this week SAM will also screen Daisy Kenyon (1947) as part of the Otto Preminger film series. The film stars Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews and Henry Fonda. The film marks a period post-Mildred Piece that transitioned Crawford from a dancing sex-symbol to a woman’s picture heroine, roles that mirrored her off-screen emotional problems. Crawford keeps popping up in the cultural radar: David Denby has an article about her new biography in this week’s New Yorker, the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival screened Baby Jane? (the all-drag Whatever Happened to Baby Jane remake) and Bad Movie Art screened Trog last December. Aside from the Mommy Dearest jokes, there’s something extraordinarily compelling about this fascinating actress. Explore more of her at SAM Thursday at 7:30.

Central Cinema presents Street Fighter (1994) in Hecklevision directed by Steven E. de Souza, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Raul Julia and Kylie Minogue. Hecklevision is an experiment in audience interactivity. Instead of just shouting out your smart-ass commentary during the film, you can text comments that will shoot up to the screen. The premise is only as genius as the audience is smart and funny. The appearance of Minogue in one of her first post-Neighbors acting gigs should be enough to keep the texts blowing up fast and furious.

On Wednesday Central Cinema presents Girls Will Be Girls (2003) in partnership with Three Dollar Bill Cinema. The film starring Coco Peru and Varla Jean Merman has gained a cult following among drag aficionados and gay comedians for its portrayal of three aging actresses. The tagline: An actress is nothing without a meaty part.

Ryan Hicks is Sponsorship Manager for Three Dollar Bill Cinema, a film fan and contributor to Seattle Gay Scene.

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