By George Rose
June 2, 2009
While it didn't win any of the awards it was nominated for, it put all three lead actors back on the map (in my book, anyway). If there was any confusion over Tomei's acting ability and questionable Oscar victory for My Cousin Vinny, In the Bedroom is sure to remove it all. She - along with Spacek and Wilkinson - is brilliant and helps make the movie heartfelt and gut-wrenching. I can't thank Greer enough for taking me to see the movie and introducing me to the world of independent films. Every time you see one on the Take Five list, it is in part because of her, how she took me away from the popular mainstream blockbusters and made me comfortable being a lesser known, independent thinker.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
For those of you who have been following the article, you are aware I just moved home after graduating college. Step One in making myself at home again was setting up my entertainment center in the basement. HDTV – check. Blu-Ray player – check. DVD collection – check. Fios – check. Nintendo Wii – check. Wii update – not so check. It sure takes a long time to update the Wii but while I was waiting, I was exploring the many movie channels of the Fios package.
Luckily, Sleepy Hollow was on TV! The tale of the headless horsemen is a familiar one, as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a classic short story that was first written in 1820 by Washington Irving. Basically, there is a horsemen (who lacks a head) that goes around the small town of Sleepy Hallow cutting off people's heads, in search of the one he lost long ago at war. Who better to take this classic bonfire tale and turn it into a Hollywood production then the creepiest director alive, Tim Burton? Pair him with Johnny Depp and a pale-faced Christina Ricci and you have Sleepy Hollow.
The movie is dark and graphic yet beautiful and exciting. There isn't just a bevy of beheadings but also interesting back story, action sequences and genuinely frightening moments. Elements were added to the plot to help extend the length to fill a feature film but none are outright unnecessary. Depp's Ichabod Crane is pumped up with scientific knowledge and the intricacies of the townspeople are complicated and compelling. Burton is a master of gothic allure and, if Sleepy Hollow is any indication, his upcoming reimagining of Alice in Wonderland is sure to be more treat than trick.
Smart People (2008)
Backtracking to independent films, I stumbled onto Smart People this week on TV. Unlike In the Bedroom, this film wasn't nominated for awards and did not receive the critical reception the cast was likely hoping for. Why then would I add it to my list? Because sometimes a movie doesn't need to be earth-shattering good for it to be enjoyable. As Aristotle once said, "the whole is more than the sum of its parts." In this case, it is the opposite: the parts are more than the whole.