MOVIE REVIEWS: The Pursuit of Happyness; The Queen

Albany people: VOTE YES today, noon-9 pm. I’ve stolen, er, apppropriated all the reasons why here.
Carol and I saw The Pursuit of Happyness on MLK Day. Lydia was in day care, and the local theater was showing matinees. So after going to the Indian buffet, we walked to the theater. It was good, Will Smith was good, the interaction between the main character and his son were good, probably because the son was played by Will’s real son, Jaden. It was “inspirational”. So why was I not bowled over?

At first, I thought it was that the situations that the character was going through were so incredible that, if it weren’t based on a real guy, I’m not sure I would have believed it. That might be part of it.

I’ve figured out, though, that the REAL reason I was underwhelmed was that the commercials, and especially the trailer REVEALED TOO MUCH. I know that when X happened, Y would follow. A pity.
For some obscure reason, my wife was under the impression that The Queen had had reviewed badly, so when we had had a chance to go, we didn’t. (It got a 98% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes.) So, when the nominations came out a couple weeks ago, and I recognized the paucity of the nominees that I had seen (The Devil Wears Prada, Dreamgirls, An Inconvenient Truth, Little Miss Sunshine, and the aforementioned Pursuit of Happyness), I decided to take the afternoon off and go see The Queen.

Immediately, seeing this movie is a problem, as it’s now “Nominated for six Academy Awards” including original screenplay, best actress (Helen Mirren) and best picture. That said, I was a bit distracted early by the use of clips of Diana, in a way I wasn’t bothered by Joe McCarthy in Good Night and Good Luck. However, after Diana dies (hope I’m not accused of being a spoiler, because that is THE plot point), I became quite engrossed in the movie. Particularly, the relationship between Elizabeth II and the newly-elected Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) was intriguing. This is not a BIG performance by Mirren, but highly nuanced. By the end of the film, the clips from the funeral procession worked for me. Not having seen enough films, I’m not sure I’d have picked The Queen as best picture, but Dame Mirren’s performance is certainly worthy of consideration, and perhaps of the treasure trove she’s already brought home (Golden Globes, SAG, etc.). I DO wonder, though, if QE II and Blair really had a piece of dialogue that foretells of the later trouble Blair would have with the British press.
Just got this, unfortunately. Mary Liz and Paul are not only friends, but they gave a great presentation at my church on Sunday

New York State Library Public Program

People of Courage, People of Hope, Seekers of Justice, a New York State Library Public Program – Free.

People of Courage, People of Hope, Seekers of Justice celebrates the Capital Regions participation in the Underground Railroad movement of the 19th century. African American residents of the Capital Region were significant participants in the international effort to abolish the federally sanctioned institution of slavery and advocate for the rights of People of Color. A rich, complex collection of historically-documented stories that have informed the accounts of abolitionists and freedom seekers will be presented in this PowerPoint presentation. Presenters: Paul and Mary Liz Stewart, independent researchers and co-founders of the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc. Bring your lunch.

Tuesday, February 6th, 12:15-1:15pm

All programs are FREE. TO REGISTER online go here , or e-mail or call 518-474-2274. Classes will be held in the Librarians Room in the State Library, which is on the 7th floor of the Cultural Education Center, Madison Avenue, Albany, unless otherwise indicated. The New York State Library/Reference Services, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY 12230 (518-474-5355);

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