Want to know what the connection is between 2011’s ‘Contagion’ and 1995’s ‘Babe’? Then read on… Today’s movie sampler includes:

  • Red Riding Hood
  • Hanna
  • Captain America
  • Hereafter
  • Romantics Anonymous
  • Contagion

Red Riding Hood

The real stars of this were Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) and the red riding hood. If you doubt me, just do a quick Google images search. That red cloak is mighty stunning, no? As for Gary Oldman, he was a truly despicable villain, much worse than the big bad wolf. For writers, his character was an excellent example of how to craft a scarier bad guy. Father Solomon’s brief back story and character motivation made everything he did that much scarier because he genuinely thought he was doing the right thing. Other thoughts: yes, Max Irons (who plays one of Red’s love interests) is Jeremy Irons’ son (I’m probably the last person in America to be realizing this); no, the scene I most wanted to see (Virginia Madsen throwing her cup Thor-style to the floor while shouting, “I am NOT drinking any f***ing mead!” did not happen); and, finally, what on earth was that mask she was wearing? It’s been described alternatively as a wolf mask, a pig mask, and as a “harvest mask with a corn husk face“??? Mask or no, I enjoyed the movie for what it was — entertainment.

Hanna

My hairdresser actually recommended this to me. (She’s got great taste in movies and we spend most of my time in the chair chatting it up about movies, books, horses (hers, not mine), and kids). Anyhow — Wow! Hanna. Positively riveting, the character and the movie. Stunning, visually and emotionally. The movie creators’ ability to create tension was unbelievable! The muscles in my neck and shoulders tightened up during that first scene and NEVER LOOSENED. That’s over two hours of tension, even during the ‘lighter’ scenes! But what is Hanna about? A kick ass sixteen year old girl bent on revenge is everything you need to know. Well that and maybe… I can’t believe anyone was worried about teen violence in the Hunger Games!!! Forget about all those Team So and So shirts routing for male characters’ right to fight for their lady love’s interest. Where are the real mano-a-mano shirts? Where are the Team Ree and Team Hanna shirts?!

Hanna from HANNA
Ree from WINTER'S BONE
Whose shirt is this?!? (Hint: It was pre-Snape)

Captain America

I love a good superhero origin story and Captain America didn’t disappoint. I think my husband wanted it to be a bit grittier or darker (ala DARK KNIGHT), but if every superhero was as wrought with angst as that one, I’d soon stop watching (NOT that Dark Knight wasn’t great — it was). But Captain America is a FUN superhero movie. Steve Rodgers’ Man Makeover scene was one of my favorites. When Chris Evans (aka the new Captain America) emerged from the transformation machine… Well, all I can say is, “Wow!” 😉 And the rapport between Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Steve was super cute. Other bonuses: Hugo Weaving as Red Skull, the 1940’s/WWII setting, getting a glimpse of Tony Stark/Iron Man’s dad, and a nice cameo at the end by an actor near and dear to our hearts that nicely segues into… what else? Captain America 2 (2014).

Hereafter

A friend of mine suggested this one while I was staying at her house during a weekend writer’s workshop. And I have to admit, I was worried going in. Rotten Tomatoes gave it only a 46%. Plus, the cold colors of the movie poster, the movie’s depressing description of its subject, and the fact that it was Clint Eastwood,  —[A brief aside: another friend of mine and I went to see MILLION DOLLAR BABY thinking it was a female ROCKY. We brought Skittles and Sweet Tarts, not tissues. Needless to say, our cheeks, sleeves, and selves were a mess by the time it was over]—  had me thinking this was one I might not want to see. And make no mistake, it was sad. It was slow and sad. But while I LOVE Rotten Tomatoes, I thought their take on it was grossly unfair (“Hereafter fails to generate much compelling drama, straddling the line between poignant sentimentality and hokey tedium”).  Instead of weeping, my friend and I used the movie as a jumping off point for a nice, warm, and while not entirely reassuring, at least not heart wrenchingly sad, discussion on what we all might be in store for in the real hereafter.

Romantics Anonymous

Was adorable! (Which is still ‘adorable’ in French, btw). My husband is allergic to subtitled films and was protesting this. But two things had him sitting down to watch this with me: (1) We’d already watched the one sure thing that appealed to both of us (RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) a few nights earlier; and (2) we wouldn’t have to worry about the kids overhearing any questionable dialog. (Um, I wish my kids were bilingual and spoke French!) I fell in love with the characters immediately and spent the rest of the movie simultaneously wringing my hands (nervously wondering what sort of emotional pain the characters were going to put themselves through next) and laughing good-naturedly at their escape antics and idiosyncrasies. By the end, even my husband was a convert and agreed it was a good choice. If you liked the German film MOSTLY MARTHA (or even the more recent American version NO RESERVATIONS) then you would like Romantics Anonymous.

Contagion

Sure, it made me itch to stockpile canned goods, chart the quickest, yet least-likely-to-be-traveled route out of town, and put a bottle of germ-X next to my desk’s bottomless cup of coffee, but that’s what made it fun! Yes, it was strikingly similar to all the plague movies that have come before it (OUTBREAK, 28 DAYS LATER, ZOMBIELAND… okay, okay, Contagion lacked the zombies of Zombieland but still…) The similarities don’t matter, because if a plague movie is well done, I will watch it every time. That stuff just never gets olds with me. Contagion’s ending was also unique enough to make it a little bit special. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, so I’ll just say that, when the doorbell rang and so and so held up his such and such, I just thought, “Aww…” And Kate Winslet’s last scene when she was trying to give that guy her jacket. Oh, man! That almost moved me to tears. And Contagion shared an odd connection to another movie I haven’t seen in a while, BABE. Because once again I’m swearing off pork! 😉

How about you? Have you seen any of these movies? What did you think of them? Who would your money be on — Ree or Hanna? Think you know who said, “I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon?” Kudos to anyone who can guess the movie where that line came from, the actor who said it, and the character he played.