Two Movie Reviews: “North Country” and “The Jane Austen Book Club”

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North Country

Okay, I admit it, I wanted to see this movie b/c Sean Bean (one of my fave Brits) is in it!  I borrowed the DVD from my mom a LONG while back, but just saw it yesterday.  Domestic issues, father-daughter probs, big union vs. “little” ppl (women mine workers who faced TERRIBLE harrassment), Woody Harrelson, Sissy Spacek (the quiet/ strong mom of heroine), and Frances McDormand (FABULOUS as always; gets to kiss Sean- hehehe) are here! 

We go back to the late ’80s in tough mining town in MN and meet a young single mom (Josie Aimes) of 2 trying to make it on her own (for the 1st time in her life, w/o a man).  Her dad (played VERY well by Richard Jenkins; opposite to his dad role in Rumor Has It) also works at the mine, and is NOT happy to see her there.  Also, unlike the mom, he can’t seem to forgive her for getting pregnant at 16 (can’t reveal too much about that b/c it’d spoil the end).  Josie is considered “kinda girly” but takes a job in the iron mine b/c the pay is good; the company recently opened up to women. 

This movie does an esp good job of showing us the community: harsh landscape, $ struggles, traditional, working-class Midwest.  You will be shocked by the things that happen to the ladies in the film, but it is based on a real case (the 1st sexual harrassment class action lawsuit).  Woody is the local sports hero turned lawyer who tries the case; he really gets into his role. 

What struck me, besides the father-daughter relationship, was Josie’s struggles with her son (who is trying to fit in like any other teen).  Charlize Theron connected well with the kids onscreen, and is good at showing vulnerability.  The audience gets to see real people and, not only “movie” types in North Country.  Niki Caro (dir also of Whale Rider) shows us another female from traditional community with (emotionally distant/angry) male relative who seeks to belong w/o giving up her dignity.

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The Jane Austen Book Club

You can try to analyze this film, BUT it’s just harmless fun IMHO!  I wanted to see it b/c I REALLY like Amy Brenneman, Hugh Dancy, and Jimmy Smits.  I hoped that Kathy Baker would have a bigger part, but there are FEW developed characters here.  In the book club there are: the wise / single/ unhappily married / and put-upon woman; the man is sweet/nerdy and has never read ANYTHING by Jane Austen.  Maria Bello’s character (Jocelyn) and Hugh Dancy (Grigg, the only guy member) had a few quirky/nice scenes.  The ppl in movie face some of the same issues that JA wrote about LONG time ago; these issues are universal/timeless.  Check it out if you wanna kick back and chill!  

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