"No drums! No drums! Jack Black said no drums!"

Being sick and having little energy usually results in me watching a lot of movies. To wit:

  • I actually watched Margin Call (imdb | rotten tomatoes) on the flight to New Orleans, pre-sickness. It tells the story of a thinly-veiled amalgam of a few financial institutions (especially Lehman) involved in the 2008 meltdown. Where I found Too Big To Fail interesting because it’s what was actually happening at the highest levels of government, Margin Call was interesting because it portrayed a single company’s take on it. From a low-level analyst to the Chairman, and every position in between, all the maneuvering taking place once people realize their ass is on the line, and the frustration of those who just don’t want to play the game. Judging by the box office numbers this film was heartily ignored, but I’d say the acting talent involved makes it profoundly overlooked.
  • The Muppets (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was, admittedly, something Nellie wanted to watch more than me. OK, OK, I get it already…you have a crush on Jason Segel. Anyway, the movie seemed sweet and well-paced and funny in parts, but I suspect there was more than a little nostalgia at work for it to have a 96% rating.
  • The Descendants (imdb | rotten tomatoes) is another one for which I didn’t quite understand the rating. It was good and all, but…89%? Really? George Clooney seemed woefully underused to me, not the kind of classic character and performance that we saw in other Alexander Payne films like Sideways or About Schmidt. Maybe Payne deliberately toned it down, or maybe it was that he offset the bitter or moving with something saccharine once too often. Like I said, good film…but I think I was a victim of inflated expectations on this one, given all the Oscar buzz.
  • Game Change (imdb) was made for TV, so no RT rating, but I give it a Dickinson thumbs-up. It’s hard to know whether this behind-the-scenes-of-power look at how Sarah Palin entered the public consciousness in 2008 is accurate, but it’s certainly damning to Sarah Palin. Watch it for yourself, and Marvel at Julianne Moore, and decide whether you think it felt slanted or not. To me, the most interesting undercurrent in the film is the notion that only a celebrity can win an American presidential election now…whether it’s Palin’s camera appeal resurrecting McCain’s campaign (at first, anyway) or Obama leading from post to post because of his popularity and media savvy. I find the idea depressing, but impossible to refute. Also, there’s a great moment where we watch Julianne Moore pretending to be Sarah Palin watching Tina Fey pretending to be Sarah Palin. I was picturing the real Sarah Palin watching that scene at home and wondering if somewhere there was another Sarah Palin watching her.

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