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Locked-in mind becomes a butterfly

Original post made by MovieGoer, Portola Valley: Ladera, on Jan 1, 2008

This is always my favorite time of year for movies -- when most of the best are let out of the gate to contend for an Oscar nomination.

I just saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and I'm sure it will haunt me for some time. It's based on a true story about a 40-something French magazine superstar who has a stroke that leaves him in "locked-in syndrome" -- paralyzed completely except for the ability to blink one eye, but completely sound of mind. He wrote a memoir (with lots of help from an assistant) using a system in which he communicated by blinking his eye. But rather than being a bleak film about a horrifically disabled man, this movie is all about the power of the imagination, and the director, the painter Julian Schnabel, creates a film of high art that taps deep emotion. There's also a wicked wittiness that I didn't expect in such a potentially depressing film. Funny thing is, this film wasn't the least bit depressing.

I'm eager to hear others' thoughts about this extraordinary film. Also, does anyone have any other Oscar-quality recommendations for films showing now? I'm really curious about Orphanage and No Country for Old Men. Any comments about these or others?

Comments (2)

Like this comment
Posted by Carl
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 10, 2008 at 11:26 am

No Country for Old Men: awesome
Javier Bardem: awesome -- loved him in Before Night Falls, love him in this.

Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of another community
on Jan 10, 2008 at 12:21 pm

I see "No Country for Old Men" as being in a category by itself. It's a deeply cynical commentary on a drug-infested border town in which the cops are tokens, life is cheap, depravity is just around the corner, and the good guys never win.

It's not a movie. The plot is so thin as to almost not be there. It's a day-in-the-life rant that has nothing redeeming to offer. The acting is great and you can't look away and it stays with you for weeks, like the stink that comes after a long physical ordeal in which there is no opportunity to bathe.

I left this "performance" and couldn't wait to go to a movie with a plot so as to wash "No Country" out of my mind. The Coen brothers have an affinity for depraved and mindless violence for the sake of being depraved and mindless.

It deserves to be ignored for the main Oscar categories. There are too many other good movies out there, including ones that showcase unreasonably violent behavior: "There will be Blood," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," and "Michael Clayton," and "The Valley of Elah."


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