Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Cake" Is No Walk in the Park Film

Films have always held a special fascination for me and since childhood I've eagerly gone to movie theatres, drive-ins, outdoor showings, rented VHS and now get them via screener DVDs or on my Internet accounts. It's always like opening a Christmas present or discovering those interesting hidden eggs on videos.

The current crop of films up for awards is a truly interesting mix of upbeat (perhaps), eccentric and somewhat raw emotion played out for our enjoyment or to provoke thoughtful discussions with anyone who will listen. Interesting that in this time of multi-wars we don't have a glut of frothy, we-can-do-it films aimed at our war efforts as we did in the 40s. I guess Hollywood was part of the war machine to sell war bonds and keep the populace from becoming depressed. Now we can look into the mind of a military sniper as we never have, as I recall. Films were also part of the "red menace" hearings of the 50s when old Joe McCarthy held sway over the American psyche.

In the 50s even the music industry was overwhelmed by a war-related hit record, "Deck of Cards." Today there are films that do address both the national struggles of war and the internal struggles with extreme loss and all are worthy contenders. Some will leave you thinking about the underlying content and extrapolating the ending and others may even leave you angry.  They provoke emotion rather than compliance.

Whatever the case may be, you can't deny it's a varied lot. I am, of course, leaving out "Into the Woods" for which Meryl Streep may, once again, take home an Oscar nomination or a statuette. BTW, one of her daughters has a cameo in "Cake." The lady does deserve accolades for her fine work. Got to see her up close doing a scene for "Marvin's Room" at a psychiatric hospital where I worked at the time. Yes, Leo and Diane were there, too.

Watching "Cake" I had, at first, been mystified by the title and it only became apparent toward the very end. I couldn't help but feel that it had an eerie resemblance to a Philip Seymour Hoffman film, "Love Liza." Somewhat similar theme and shot layout but there are cameos, which Hoffman's film didn't use.

Both left me feeling a bit drained, but that wasn't because of the acting. Jennifer Aniston should be appreciated for her performance and her willingness to be the less-than-gorgeous female she usually is in her films. It's certainly not "Horrible Bosses." In fact, it's about as far from it as you can throw your mind.

Film remains provocative and funny and you can take your pick this year as, perhaps, you couldn't in years past. Let's see what the Academy thinks is Oscar-worthy. I'll be interested to see if it's talent or something else that drives their votes.

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