Whiplash is the Pick of the Week

This week features two Oscar winners, two Criterions, and a quaint historical drama.
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Out of all the winners (and even nominees) of last night’s Oscars, I’ve seen exactly one (The Grand Budapest Hotel). That’s low by even my standards.  I’ve lamented in these pages before how I rarely get out to the movies anymore, but this year it was even worse.  This is mainly due to me losing my privileges as a stay-at-home dad and having to go out and get a job.  Employment means being away from the house for many hours at a time which means less time to take in a film (though I must add being a stay-at-home dad is a lot of work - it's just that I’d find ten minutes here, half an hour there to watch a bit of something, which adds up over time).  When I am home, I have to contend with a wife who doesn’t want to watch everything I do and a daughter whose grown old enough to have her own opinions as well.

We try to watch non cartoon stuff regularly, but if the daughter isn’t interested, then she tends to want our attention.  Sometimes she’ll play with her toys on her own but usually after a bit, she comes jumping on me wanting to play.  I’m the sort of dad that usually obliges and so movie nights tend to turn into half a movie plus lots of wrestling, block building, and laughing nights.  Thus my ability to watch serious Oscar contenders has gone from slim to, well one film this entire past year.

Still, I love the Oscars.  The spectacle of it all is loads of fun and though I don’t get to watch the films very often it at least allows me to add to my ever growing list of things I really want to view.  I was excited to catch Sunday night's show, especially since last year we were living in no-man’s land and our television couldn’t pick up the broadcast.

Unfortunately, a misreading of the scheduled broadcast time led me to start in on it half an hour late, and then some brewing sickness put me to bed early having to miss all the best awards.  That’s life as they say, but I got to see the best parts on YouTube, and I still have my list of things to catch.

Close to the top of that list is Whiplash.  I’d not really heard about this film until a few weeks ago when the Oscar buzz started getting loud.  I love me some J.K. Simmons though and his turn as a delightfully frightening music teacher appears to be outstanding.  It's always exciting to see actors you enjoy get some award love and even more interesting to see what they do next.

There is a realization with these things that despite all the attention, money and, glamour of it all, they are really quite meaningless.  It's the art that matters.  One of the things I loved about Neil Patrick Harris' opening song was how it laughed at the pompousness of a show like the Oscars while still understanding the deep meaning cinema has to so many people.  Awards are fun, but great movies are here to stay.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Big Hero 6:  This won the Oscar for best animated feature, but honestly that never seems to really mean anything.  There are never that many full-length animated movies out in a single year to make the competition in this category interesting.

Watership Down (Criterion Collection):  I must admit I’ve never read the book, which as a great lover of the written page disturbs me quite a bit.  The film is much loved as well and no doubt Criterion has done a marvelous job presenting it.

Fellini Satyricon (Criterion Collection):  I must admit here that I’m not much for Fellini.  I tried to watch 8 1/2 the other day but couldn’t make it through.  I actually rather liked it, but there was so little story to attach oneself to, once I turned it off to do something else I never felt like turning it back on.  I know he’s important, I know I need to study him some more, but that day has yet to come.

Lillies: A moving, heart-warming, often wonderfully funny historical drama from England.  I'll have a full review of this shortly

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