Here’s looking at the Oscar, kid

by Brian Keaney

Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Image via Wikipedia

“Please excuse my drug use,” she said to me

“Hey,” I replied, “you do whatever you need to in order to get through a dinner with me.”

Such began my dinner last night at Casablanca, a nice but overpriced restaurant in Brattle Square.  I enjoyed the murals and the company, but two glasses of wine and an appetizer do not usually cost me $36 in the type of establishments I tend to frequent.  It actually could have cost me $10 less but, being the fine, upstanding citizen I am, I told the waitress she had given me the wrong change and returned it to her.

Dinner was followed by one of my all time favorite films, Casablanca, next door at the Brattle.  I think this particular movie is a rare case when I’d rather watch it  at home than at the theater.  It has some very funny lines, but I found the laughter from the audience off putting for some reason.  Usually I enjoy watching movies in the theater precisely because the reactions of the crowd make a movie funnier, scarier, or more dramatic.  Maybe it’s because I know it so well that I didn’t want to hear the guy in front of me laughing, but to focus on the reaction on the screen.

I know a fair bit of trivia about the film, but one of my favorite facts is that no one had any idea that it was going to be anything special.  Warner Brothers produced 50 films a year at the time – one a week – and this was just supposed to be one of 50.  Compare that to The King’s Speech, which I saw the night prior.

Once again, an excellent film, and Colin Firth’s performance in particular was extraordinary.  He certainly deserves the Oscar, and of all the nominees for Best Picture that I’ve seen this year I think this is probably the best.  That said, this wasn’t just another film the studio was putting out.  They clearly had an eye towards the Academy while shooting it.  Normally I’m not a fan of this technique; I’d much prefer to see a director make the best possible film he can, a film designed to appeal to the masses as well as the snobs, and then let the awards come.

In this case, however, Tom Hooper, Firth, and Geoffry Rush did such a fantastic job, regardless of the audience Hooper was making it for, that I don’t mind so much.

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