My Favorite Movies of 2011 Sunday, Feb 26 2012 

In honor of the Oscars tonight, I thought I would finally sit down and do my annual ten favorite movies list. As usual, these aren’t necessarily the best movies of the year. They’re the ones I enjoyed most.

Many of the movies on my list are anchored by a strong central performance. In a couple of cases, that’s what I love most about the film. Others are great stories. At least one is an artistic work that I don’t understand but really loved anyway!

Number one on my list is The Iron Lady.

I know that practically no one besides me loved this film, but I honestly think it’s not being given a fair shake. Meryl Streep’s performance is a masterpiece — one of her best ever — but I also liked the script, direction, makeup, sets, etc. The secret, it seems to me, is not to think of it as a Margaret Thatcher bio-pic. You have to think about it as a study of power, memory, and loss. Of all the movies I saw this year, it’s the one I most look forward to owning on DVD.

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Favorite Songs/Tracks of 2011 Sunday, Feb 19 2012 

I’m finally ready to do my annual post about my favorite songs and tracks of the previous year. I’ve had the list for a while; I just haven’t had time to write the post.

This year, however, I’m going to do it a little differently. Instead of listing the songs in some sort of order of preference (which in the past has only been a step above being random), I’ve decided to choose my favorite and then list the rest alphabetically. This seems a more honest way of presenting the songs that I’ve loved during 2011.

My favorite song of last year was “What the Water Gave Me” by Florence and the Machine:

I hadn’t really listened to Florence and the Machine’s first record, but I loved Ceremonials. This is my favorite of several tracks on the album. I appreciate this song’s allusions to Virginia Woolf and Frida Kahlo. It’s a smart, beautiful song that’s perfect for singing along with at the top of your lungs while driving!

I’ll post the rest of my list after the break.

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The Tree of Life: A (Very) Brief Review Monday, Feb 6 2012 

PJ and I recently saw The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick and starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain. It started a bit slow, I thought, but the more I watched the more I got into it. It’s a movie that you have to let wash over you — just sit back and experience it rather than follow a plot or try to figure everything out.

By the end, I was convinced that this is a beautiful, amazing film that is one of the most interesting movies of recent years. It’s clearly auspicious in its imagination — a work of art more than a typical movie. Even though I don’t understand much of it, I loved it! It’s certainly one of the year’s best films.

The Iron Lady: A Review Friday, Feb 3 2012 

Last night, PJ and I saw The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. We both love Streep, so we’ve been waiting for this movie to come to Athens and eagerly anticipating seeing it. Here’s the trailer:

The Iron Lady has gotten mixed reviews. The main problem, it seems to me, is the trailer, which gives the impression that the movie is about Thatcher’s years in office and gives viewers the idea that Streep’s performance is a caricature. Both are wrong.

The film is really about what it means to be old and dealing with the overwhelming loss of one’s mate. Margaret Thatcher is just the vehicle for an exploration of what it means to be near the end of one’s life and to have lost almost everything that gave that life meaning. In this case, that includes one’s husband, political power, and national visibility.

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