THIRTEEN DAYS (2000)

Posted in THE LUNCH MOVIE CHRONICLES: The original e-mail announcements that were sent through our office the evening before we rolled a Lunch Movie on January 29th, 2010 by Jim Delaney


From Friday, May 14, 2008
Directed by Roger Donaldson, starring Bruce Greenwood, Kevin Costner, Steven Culp and Dylan Baker.

In 1962, the Soviet Union parked a load of nuclear missiles in Cuba that gave them first-strike capability against the U.S. Ol’ dogs of the military industrial complex, led by General Curtis LeMay, pressured President Kennedy (Greenwood) to invade Cuba. JFK’s “Irish Mafia” group of advisors, led by Bobby Kennedy (Culp) and Kenny O’Donnell (Costner), urged him to choose the path of diplomacy. The negotiations that followed could only have been engaged by Soviets and Americans who understand the rules of engagement in a war of words.

THIRTEEN DAYS was released in January 2001, disappearing amid the flood of hold-over 2000 Oscar contenders. That wasn’t all it had against it: Costner hadn’t been big in a while (and his Mayor Quimby-esque Boston accent is initially jarring, to say the least!) Everyone who didn’t sleep through high school knew how The Cuban Missile Crisis turned out. …And it’s mostly a movie about guys … talking. Somehow despite all that, they turned in an intense and enlightening political thriller that could make you choose your words more wisely the next time you are in a fight.

I’ll finish Wednesday,
Love, Jim

AFTER THOUGHT from 1.29.10
Wow! Way to turn away the crowd, huh?! I’m not sure what my state of mind was when I so under-sold this movie! It is among the highlights of Costner’s career, as well as being an all around impeccably made film. There are those movies that, even if they are not your type of movie, you still have to acknowledge that they are as good as they could possibly be. Case in point: HOME ALONE and PROBLEM CHILD. Similar story, but one of them has been deservedly forgotten, while the other has become something of a holiday classic. I don’t think HOME ALONE is great art, but for the story they were telling, it could not have been much better than what they came up with.

A lot of people don’t like “talky” movies. A lot of people don’t like historical movies. A lot of people don’t care for Kevin Costner. I guess I was trying to say that this movie is all of those things, but for the story they were telling, you could not come up with a better film than THIRTEEN DAYS. I was so transported to JFK’s war room and engrossed by the growing dread of everyone in his cabinet that I lost track of the day-counter that would occasionally pop up in the corner. That is an amazing feat — to surprise the audience with the ending of a movie they already know the end to. I did not do a good job recommending THIRTEEN DAYS to my friends and coworkers. Here I want to recommend it without reservation to anyone of any age who enjoys movies that require and reward your attention.

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Favorites of the iDecade, or the Ought Decade, or whatever the hell we’re gonna call this! (2000-2009)

Posted in JIMMY ON MOVIES: Thoughts on Films, The Folks Who Make Them, & Those Who Love Them, MOVIES TO REMEMBER: The ol' favorites that The Lunch Movie kids might have watched had the tradition continued... on January 28th, 2010 by Jim Delaney

10. WONDER BOYS (2000) Directed by Curtis Hanson

Try as they might, Paramount just could not make a success of this film. Upon release in February 2000 with an ad campaign featuring a disheveled Michael Douglas in a pink bathrobe; critics raved, but audiences ignored. WONDER BOYS was rereleased in the fall with the poster above, touting quotes from well-respected critics aimed squarely at receiving award nominations. Despite a handful of nominations, only Bob Dylan’s song “Things Have Changed” won a Golden Globe and an Oscar.

WONDER BOYS is simply too random in its humor, subtle in its soul, and illuminating without being condemning or condescending in its observations of human nature in general and academia specifically, for it to be sold in a 30 second TV commercial. It is one of those treats where you forget you are watching actors, and feel like you are watching real life happen to people who handle their slings and arrows with so much more wit than most of us could muster. If all that is not enough, it is also my favorite movie about the writers, a profession that has given us no end of tedious and pretentious films.

9. SPIRITED AWAY (2001) Written & Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

SPIRITED AWAY showed up in a moment where computer animated films were becoming more common than traditional animation. A decade later, with 3D computer animation surpassing the range of color and detail of 2D hand-painted, Miyazaki continues to remind us why film did not spell the end of live theater, nor recorded music the end of performance bands and orchestras. In traditional animation this laboriously realized, humanity emerges from the chaotic palette that a program would never allow. As live actors on a stage and music played by real musicians have survived, so will animation drawn and painted by patient masters who love this form.

Many films tell the story of children entering a fantastical world to which their parents are not privy. Few make the obliviousness of parents as potent a force as the wonder at the other end of the child’s experience. The elevation of these opposites to equal strength creates a desperation on the part of our young heroine that most children’s films or animation would shy away from. A protagonist can only be as interesting as the situation they are trying to conquer. SPIRITED AWAY trusts a child to a journey of such emotional, psychological and spiritual enormity that her courage and ingenuity dwarfs entire legions of X-Men mutants.

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