Wednesday, February 03, 2010

You Aught to Know - 28-29

A Beautiful Mind, Ron Howard, 2001, 24 points

The movie that got me into movies, nearly a decade ago. Sure, Ron Howard's biopic about the genius schizophrenic John Nash may be conventional in terms of style and structure, but it's sweeping in the same way as the great pictures of Old Hollywood were. Very early on, the compelling true story intersects with the deeply human performances by Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly in such a dynamic way that the viewer realizes that A Beautiful Mind's surface simplicity only works to better showcase its many complex assets. - Danny Baldwin

We follow the schizophrenic world of the ingenious mathematician that helped to found the modern study of game theory, Dr. John Nash. It is a love story with a bit of a psychotic twist. I really love this film because it is the best I have ever seen by way of trying to depict the thrill of mathematical discovery. I wrote a 500 word review of this film already, part of which I will cut-and-paste here: The character of John Nash in the film is similar to myself in many ways. I can really relate to that confidence and optimism as I had the same feeling as I entered graduate school, and still have a bit of that optimism in me to this very day. Unfortunately, Nash has a very serious mental illness. Apparently this illness allows him to see the solutions to his equations, but also makes him a danger to himself and his family. The story is similar to one of a star athlete who looses his legs in an accident, and is inspired by his loved ones to overcome his handicap and triumph in the end. But this story is about an intellectual rather than an athlete which makes it especially appealing to me. - Ramin Honary

Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola, 2003, 24 points

Bill Murray, in one of the great performances of the decade, says so much while saying so little. His Bob Harris is not only emotionally isolated from the natives he encounters while filming whiskey commercials in Tokyo, but life in general. A pretty common theme on the surface, especially as far as mid-life crisis pictures go. But Sofia Coppola's astonishingly assured sophomore effort reaches its crescendo when it allows Murray and then-newcomer Scarlett Johansson (playing a pretty young woman with whom Bob finds companionship) to act their asses off together. The movie is so subtle and lyrical that the viewer may only notice how remarkable these performances are (especially fused together) in retrospect, but damn! They may have made for my favorite characters to spend two hours during the 2000s. - Danny Baldwin

Previously on You Aught to Know: Danny Baldwin

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