Here are some of the movies I’ve watched lately.

Juno – I loved this movie. It was a charming breath of fresh air, energetic and real. Ellen Page was believable as a witty and quirky teen girl who gets pregnant and tries to do what she thinks is right. She strikes a perfect balance between tough and vulnerable that rings a strong note of truth. The clever dialog makes me want to see it again.

Big Fish – Everyone’s been telling me about this one lately, which is odd, since it’s not exactly a new film. I finally got around to watching it, and I liked it quite a lot. The notion that we create our own realities not only for ourselves, but for those around us is an interesting one. I’m also drawn to the concept of never settling for less than what your ambition tells you that you deserve.

The Fog of War – This documentary is based on an interview with Robert S. McNamara, former Secretary of Defense in the US Government. McNamara held that position during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. During that time, he advised those presidents through the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War. His insights into war and diplomacy were fascinating. He spoke plainly, honestly and with evident passion and emotion, acknowledging his mistakes, but also proud that he had shepherded more than one president away from the brink of nuclear war. It was humbling to watch him speak, knowing the enormous pressures and responsibilities shouldered by him and others like him, with millions of lives hanging in the balance of his decisions. The interview was accompanied by powerful visuals created from war and news footage from the relevant eras.

There Will Be Blood – Daniel Day Lewis does not disappoint. Lewis’s character is an oil man, chasing the wealth and power that the black gold brings. This film is intense, from beginning to end. Even the music is discordant and rhythmic pumping up the tension. Lewis’s obsession consumes him, but other issues of faith, society, fatherhood and family bubble just below his surface. I won’t spoil it, but I will tell you this: there is blood.

Venus – This film ruthlessly examines the relationship between a young girl and and old man. The plot outline on IMDB describes it as, ” Life for a pair of veteran actors gets turned upside down after they meet a brash teenager.” I think this unfairly gives the impression that this film is The Odd Couple meets the Mickey Mouse Club. I wonder if the person who wrote that actually saw the film. Ultimately it turns out to be about transitions, between childhood and adulthood, hatred and love, denial and acceptance, life and death. There are uncomfortable moments, painful moments, and also funny ones. It’s moving, largely because of powerful performances by Peter O’Toole, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jodie Whittaker.