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My Left Foot . . . . and Smelly Dog

Posted 02-26-2012 at 03:53 PM by ChrisGeorge
Updated 02-28-2012 at 05:37 PM by ChrisGeorge
Yes, the Academy Awards are coming up tonight and here are some thoughts about the awards and some recent great films and actors.

First, did you know that in the "goody bag" to be received by folks at the Oscars tonight is a spray called "Smelly Dog" meant to eradicate pet odors? Obviously, there will be more people receiving "Smelly Dog" than individuals who take home a coveted Oscar!

"My Left Foot" -- great performance by Daniel Day Lewis, truly Oscar worthy. I had previously seen him in "Room With a View" based on the E. M. Forster novel. Of course he went on to star in "The Last of the Mohicans," "In the Name of the Father" along with the much missed wonderful Warrington-born character actor Pete Postlethwaite, pictured below, and "Gangs of New York" with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Recently, I saw DiCaprio in the Clint Eastwood-directed movie "J. Edgar", the biopic about long-time FBI Director, and virtual founder, J. Edgar Hoover. I have mixed feelings about the movie -- DiCaprio's performance was fine but Eastwood tried to cover too much territory from Hoover's first year in the FBI, 1919, through his death at the beginning of the Seventies, just before Watergate and the resignation in disgrace of President Richard M. Nixon. Not one of Eastwood's finer efforts. He also kind of tip-toed around the evidently gay relationship that Hoover had with his long-time aide Clyde Tolson, which did not help the project. B+ for effort but by no means a great motion picture. Disappointing.

I have not seen "The Iron Lady" with Meryl Streep, however, I am persuaded by the reviews which say that while Streep's portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is fine (though of an impersonation of the ex-PM), the movie itself is disappointing. The award for female lead will probably go to Viola Davis for playing a black servant in the Southern segregation era movie, "The Help" based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett.

I did not see the Marilyn film but my barber, Haircutter Bill, whom I visited for a trim on Saturday morning, and who sees all of the films, said he thought Michelle Williams was magnetic and convincing as Marilyn Monroe whereas Meryl Streep is pretty much always Meryl Streep playing a part.

I have not seen "The Artist" but it looks as if it will get a harvest of Oscars. Look also for Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" to get a load of Oscars and maybe one for him as best director too. I thought Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" starring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams, was a quality film but it probably won't reap any major awards.

Same too for Robert Redford's "The Conspirator" staring Evan Rachel Wood, Scottish actor James McAvoy ("Atonement"), Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, and the always excellent English actor Tom Wilkinson as Reverdy Johnson, a Maryland lawyer who was a southern sympathizer. Johnson was set to be the original lawyer for Mary Surratt, the accused Lincoln conspirator (Wright), who would go to the gallows. The military tribunal set up to try the killers of President Abraham Lincoln quickly sensed his obstructionism to the proceedings and made him step down as counsel. The man who replaced him, former Union officer Frederick Aiken (McAvoy), struggles to save her, his every attempt foiled by the head of the tribunal played by the fine Irish actor Colm Meaney, in a prosecution pushed by Edward Stanton, the Secretary of War (Kline), who was arguably vindictive and wanted to punish the South for the assassination of the beloved Lincoln.

According to director Redford, speaking in one of the "extras" on the DVD of the film, the movie was made on a small budget and used available light for the courtroom scenes. More on the filming of "The Conspirator" here, with links to information on other recent movies up for Oscars this year as well.

More on "Smelly Dog" here.

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