Sunday, September 27, 2009

Keepin' It Really Reel Award - September '09

I’m not the type of person who gets surprised easily. I tend to stand back from situations and analyze the people and events involved and try to make as objective a conclusion as possible. And since most people don’t change, or I’m just too young to have seen it, I’d say I have Ted Williams-ish reliability. But here I am to admit that I have made a mistake about one of America’s “it” ladies. No doubt she’s done amazing things the world over, but I was just never sold on her as a top shelf actor – or class-A beauty, but that’s neither here nor there. Angelina Jolie, I offer my apologies for doubting your acting chops. I don’t know why I thought I could disprove your talent especially since you come from a talented family. If this apology is not enough I’m sure I can think of something to make up for it. Ah, I’ve got it! How about the September 2009 Keepin’ It Really Reel Award? (Ms. Jolie was not available for comment).

I never outright said I hated her, but I did take a few cheap shots in one entry about female action heroes. But looking at it honestly, the movies were hokey and what was she supposed to do with a role like Lara Croft? Even an infant could see she was given the role solely because of her physical appearance, and while the people with a logical brain were obviously on a beer run, someone thought they had a hit movie on their hands. But redemption comes along but so often and for mine and Angeline’s relationship it came in the form of not one, but two movies I saw this month, A Mighty Heart and Changeling.

A Mighty Heart is the true story of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s abduction as told through the eyes of his pregnant wife, Marianne Pearl. Sometimes it’s hard to say how you feel about a true story because the events are so traumatic, so powerful that the eyes of objectivity are blinded. But this is a movie when you have to sit through the anger, the heartbreak, and the frustration so that you can take away its lessons. And the only reason it works simultaneously as a form of entertainment and honor is because of Angelina Jolie’s performance. We first meet her as the patient, understanding, loving wife and mother-to-be that she is. But what follows is a world wind of a performance that knocks you off your feet and leaves you speechless. Even in the saddest or most uplifting of movies I never cry; this was not one of those times (I actually didn’t cry. I was close, but this statement is staying in for effect!). It’s a movie that is so heavy I can’t outright recommend it to people without the “approach with caution” disclaimer, but A Mighty Heart is one incredible film held up by the shoulders of Angelina Jolie. – 4 reels out of 5

And then there is Changeling; the true story of Christine Collins and her search for her son, Walter. The LAPD, in their attempts to save face and hide corruption, deliver to her a child that is not her son, and, in the craziest of true story twists, consult doctors and experts who deem Christine “mentally unstable” for not recognizing her own son! As my wife has said, “this is one of the best movies I hate.” What she means is that it’s just a tough pill to swallow; it’s never fun seeing kids disappear and having to go through the thought process of all the terrible things that could happen to them (see Gone Baby Gone). And that anger, disgust, and frustration is only heightened by the deliberate attempts of the LAPD to stymie Christine’s efforts of finding her real son. Think about it: being told you’re crazy by the people who know they made a mistake and whose job it is to protect you – that’s like being buried alive; there is no more claustrophobic feeling than that. But the reason we continue on the journey is because Angelina Jolie captivates us at every turn. Obviously we want to know what happened to Walter and what will happen to all those involved in this conspiracy, but the unease in our stomach is settled a bit by Jolie. Her performance is honest and visceral (I’m sure being a mother of 19 kids helps) and for that this pill goes down a bit easier…of course you’ll never take another dose. – 3 reels out of 5

There you have it. But is that enough to take home this month’s award? The reason Angelina Jolie deserves the award is because it’s clear that she makes movies she wants to make. She has an amazing talent and that shouldn’t be overlooked because of films like Tomb Raider or Wanted. Perhaps these movies allow her to do all the things she does in her real life as a just and honorable human being and ambassador to human rights and world heath. And those are the reasons that Angelina Jolie takes home September’s award – because all she knows how to do is Keep it Really Reel - on screen and off.

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