I have to admit, that compared to Memorial Day, there are little to no war movies on today. I thought someone would be showing Band Of Brothers. Although I will admit, I am not interested in the John Wayne movies being shown on AMC. So I caught two others by accident on HBO.
How many movies make a marathon? I am going to say three or more, hence the two almost make it but not quite. Its a really scientific thing and I don't have the time to go into my reasoning right now:
Away We Go (2009)
I have to say, I really enjoyed this and it made me sort of sad that I hadn't seen this previously. I am not sure why I put it off either. One thing that probably counted against it was the fact that the campaign for it made it look like and adult Juno knockoff. But this is so much better than either that movie and the writing of Diablo Coady. In fact, Dave Eggers wrote this, and it is actually a good look at a likeable couple (Jon Krasinski is the king of playing likeable guys, and he does really well here. Both Maya Rudolph and him make for an enjoyable couple who I wouldn't mind hanging out with.) Sure, the conceit is a little much, as a surprise pregnancy forces a couple to reevaluate their relationship, but also go on a road trip to figure out where they want to live and raise their child. It sounds trite, but it plays out much better in practice. And I like the ending especially in one crucial way...this couple isn't married but they make a commitment to eachother nonetheless. There is a specific reason in the script why the woman, Maya Rudolph, doesn't want to get married, but still wants to be with Jon Krasinski's character..and, well, I like that they stayed that way and didn't suddenly decide to get married, that they were all right in their arrangement and secure enough with eachother that there wasn't some surprise change of heart in the end. I am going to go out on a limb and say, to me, this is definitely Sam Mendes best movie. I also want to say that the supporting cast, especially Jeff Daniels, Catherine O'Hara, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Paul Schneider, Josh Hamilton, Allison Janey, Greg Gaffigan...are all pretty terrific too.
Fun Fact: Maya Rudolph's mom is Minnie Ripperton:
Taking Woodstock (2009)
You have to at least hand it to Ang Lee for working in all sorts of different genres, and trying things. But often when you try new things, sometimes they fall sort of expectations. This is one of those times for Ang Lee. And I have to admit, I come into this with a small chip on my shoulder. Mostly because I am sick of hearing about Woodstock and the myth of Woodstock. But, I have to admit that this isn't a bad movie, it's just not great. Its actually pretty likeable, if not hilarious. Its sort of an amiable, shambling coming-of-age/comedy about how Woodstock ultimately got put together. Its a nice enough diversion, but Lee lays it on a bit too thick about how the transformative powers of hippies changed everybody and everybody just decided to become all groovy because they came through their town and trampled their alfalfa fields. I really like Demetri Martin as a standup comedian, but he can't quite carry the load of a whole movie on his own. Eugene Levy, as usual, is awesome.
To be perfectly honest, I don't really like Santana either. But this performance of "Soul Sacrifice" at Woodstock is really amazing, credit where credit is due. It never seems to get highlighted like it should. Conspiracy!
I did end up watching the War Torn documentary on HBO last night. It highlighted the problem, and the evolution of the understanding of PTSD in soldiers from all the way back in the Civil War to today. To put it in its simplest terms: it was heartbreaking. And if you get a chance you should check it out.