Tuesday, April 07, 2009

DVD pick of the week: "Doubt"

Can there be any possibly better day in America than one after which the Baltimore Orioles just beat down C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees to stay in first place for at least one more day? I can't think of one, but here today it's about one of 2008's best movies that caught me by surprise.

Going into "Doubt" I was so unsure I even wanted to see it that I can remember wavering at the door and almost picking something else (but of course now I can't even remember what that second choice would have been.)

So, why not see "Doubt"? Well, first of all, the subject matter - child sexual abuse by Catholic priests - was just so tired, and I couldn't imagine another movie about it offering any real insight of any kind. And second, with it being Meryl Streep vs. Philip Seymour Hoffman, I was just afraid that much genuine star power would make it impossible for them to just meld into the story and disappear in their roles.

Well, as anyone who's seen "Doubt" can attest, I was wrong on all fronts. What writer/director John Patrick Shanley came up with from his own play of the same name is a much more intimate affair than I expected, dealing with what the suspicion and possibility of misconduct does to its players rather than the broader issue itself. It's just a snapshot of what may or may not have happened at one Catholic school in 1964, and as that it's extremely effective and just as entertaining.

But it's also a battle of wills between Streep's mother superior and Hoffman's parish priest, and in terms of performance Streep definitely gets the better of it here, but they're both as good as expected. In playing Sister Aloysius Beauvier, Streep just contains the character's conflicting motivations perfectly, so when we see where it takes her in the final scene (which you won't hear any more about from me), it's as surprising as it is just a gut punch.

And I was very happy that Penelope Cruz won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress this year because there's no higher art than genuine comedy, but no actress took over a movie so completely in a short period of time than Viola Davis did here (and I was just watching "Out of Sight" again the other night - because, well, why not? - and realized she played Moselle in that seriously satisfying flick too.)

Anyways, rent "Doubt" if you haven't seen it already, and I'll leave you today with the second poster from Spike Jonze's upcoming take on "Where the Wild Things Are." It just made me smile. Peace out.


Mercurie said...

Have to admit, that poster for Where the Wild Things Are is really cool.

Bob said...

"Doubt" is such an excellent movie. I was very excited to go buy it today. As great as Streep is I still think that Hoffman's performance is the key to the whole thing. The fact that he never lets the audience in and that he gives you reasons to believe and well, doubt him at the same time make the film what it is. And Amy Adams is perfect as always.

And yes, Monday was definitely a great day. The O's beat down the Yankees in grand fashion and Ken Griffey, Jr. made a triumphant return to a Mariner uniform. My two favorite teams are in first place today! :)

Reel Fanatic said...

Griffey is easily one of my favorite ballplayers of all time, Bob .. I was kinda hoping he would end up with the Braves, especially since I'm somehow getting to go to Saturday night's game against the dastard Nationals, but he really belongs in Seattle .. here's hoping he has a truly great season!

Bob said...

One of the best memories of my life is being at the Kingdome for Game 5 of the division series against the Yankees in '95. Edgar Martinez (who I saw at Subway not too long ago - the man needed a foot long) hit that double into the gap and Griffey ran faster than I'd ever seen him run before to win the game. Just an amazing moment.

Mrs. W. said...
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