Let the Right One In
John Ajvide Lindqvist and Tomas Alfredson, 2008
#17, 2008 Skandies

I watched this one because it popped up on Criticker and I recognized it from the Skandie list. The description sounded like my sort of thing: "Oskar, a bullied 12-year old, dreams of revenge. He falls in love with Eli, a peculiar girl. She can't stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited." I stopped there, somehow not realizing that (spoilers)

Anyway, the movie is pretty slow, and I found myself doing something, not for the first time, that would probably make a cinephile's skin crawl. See, like I said in my writeup of The Greenlanders, I'm generally not a big fan of real-time media, because I like to control the pace — with a book, for instance, I can read fast or slow depending on how I'm feeling about it at the moment. I also have a pretty verbal mind and find that it sometimes takes more energy than I'm willing to expend in order to translate the images I'm seeing into a verbal understanding of the scene. So... I popped up Wikipedia's plot summary and used it as a cheat sheet. If the scene was interesting, I'd watch it. If not, or if I was having any trouble understanding what was going on, I'd look over at the summary and decide whether I wanted to watch that or skip to the next bit. I suppose this is just a smaller-scale version of watching one of those trailers that give away the entire movie and then deciding, "Hmm, yeah, I'll go see that." I thought of it more like playing an IF game with a walkthrough. And I pretty much invariably play IF with a walkthrough, so.

Dustin Lance Black and Gus Van Sant, 2008
#23, 2008 Skandies; Oscar nominee

Thought that since I didn't care for 2008's Skandie crop I'd check out at least a few of the Oscar nominees to see if they were any more to my taste. This one's a bog-standard biopic, watchable but eminently skippable. A big cast full of interchangeable activists — at the end of the movie is a "where are they now" montage and I kind of had to laugh because of the implication that I was supposed to be able to tell Mustache Dude #2 and Mustache Dude #5 apart.

The central act of the film involves a piece of California history I knew next to nothing about, the successful drive to defeat Proposition 6, an initiative to prohibit gays and their supporters from teaching in public schools. That was interesting, but at the same time, I couldn't help but wince when I suddenly realized: hey, wait, this is set in 1978. 1978 is when Proposition 13 passed. And Prop 13 devastated the California public school system, which had been the envy of the world for decades and has declined to the point that it's now battling it out with places like Alaska and Mississippi for worst in the nation. So gay teachers had basically won the right to keep their jobs in a system that was doomed to crumble because California's steps forward on social issues were accompanied by giant strides backward on economic ones.

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