Sunday, April 26, 2009

Movies You Might Like

The delicate, ferny lushness of Bleeding Heart leaves in my shade garden taken before the bleeding hearts themselves started to pop up. I'll have to get out there and get some more photos in the lovely sunshine we're enjoying now. This weekend, I was busy weeding and pruning, wielding trowel and secateurs rather than camera!
Anyway, this is a movie catch-up post, not a gardening one -- I just thought you deserved a visual;-)

I always seem to fall behind in recording movies I've seen.
It's many weeks now, for example, since Pater and I watched a very good French movie that I should have told you about: Ne le dis à personne. Very tight, well-acted suspense movie with many twists and turns, right up until the end AND the advantage of Paris scenery AND Kristin Scott Thomas. Highly recommended.

Much more questionable -- I'd recommend it for the acting, the Paris/France ambience as well as the scenes in the Irish countryside; Pater thought the basic premise was simply too ridiculous to be credible -- Deux jours à tuer.

Rachel Getting Married I loved. Anne Hathaway really shows what she can do here, but my favourite part of the whole movie had to be the brilliant a cappella rendition of Neil Young's "Unknown Legend" that Rachel's groom sings after the vows are exchanged.

Milk tells a story that deserves to be well-known, but more than that, it shows yet again how versatile and absolutely convincing Sean Penn can be. I'll watch any movie with this guy's name on the marquee, absolutely.

Bottle Shock A nice little film based on the (true) story of California wine being introduced in Paris in 1976. Many of you, like me, will be happy to watch this just to see Alan Rickman. Bill Pullman, who I think is sometimes right on, sometimes not, is very good here as is Freddy Rodriguez; I was torturing myself trying to remember where I'd seen him before -- Six Feet Under! Sometimes the dialogue was a little weak, but overall, nicely done and, again, the benefit of Paris scenes.

Things We Lost in the Fire I finally got around to picking this up thinking I'd watch it on my own one weeknight. I did, but I enjoyed it enough that I wanted Pater to see it and so watched it with him a few nights later when he was home on the weekend. I'm not always as keen as the rest of the world seems to be on Halle Berry's acting -- Monster's Ball annoyed me way more than it impressed me -- but I thought she did a fine, fine job in this. Indeed, managing not to be eclipsed by Benicio del Torre was quite an achievement -- I know the word "compelling" gets overdone, but really, I have to use it here. His drug addict manages to engage enough with his childhood friend that they can have real conversations -- gradually the audience sees what Berry's character's husband (played by David Duchovny, surprisingly credibly) does -- his humanity, wit, compassion, and intelligence. The pacing and structure of the film kept me slightly disoriented and puzzling for the first several minutes, but without alienating me, and there were moments of family life throughout, interactions with and between children, intimacies between husband and wife, that I thought were masterfully imagined and observed. I hadn't heard of this Danish director, Susanne Bier, before, but I'm sure we'll be seeing more from her.

Gran Torino Last, but obviously not least. While I was never a fan of the Clint Eastwood action movie (not being an action-movie fan in general, nor particularly good at watching on-screen violence), I've come to admire the man not only for his acting, but also, since The Unforgiven, for his other projects. To see the work he does in Gran Torino is to be inspired by the possibilities for staying active, engaged, and very relevant well into old age. And while there is plenty of action in this film for those who want that, there is also some fine acting, some well-drawn characters, decent writing, and a satisfying ending (altho' I suspect some may want to quibble with me about the last).


  1. I have not heard of Things We Lost In The Fire. I do not think it has a release date here.
    I think Emin is secretly waiting for me to trip over his 'humanity, wit, compassion, and intelligence'.
    I have seen very few films this year. especially compared to how many plays I have clocked up. This is partly due to the fact that once I book a ticket I absolutely have to go, whereas with the film I tend to sit down of an evening and then can't be bothered to shift my butt into gear!
    I also think that British theatre is on a really good role at the moment and in fact far more uplifting to go and see than most films.
    I did go to see State of Play which was a tad disappointing. despite Russell's best efforts.
    I have read that film production is very much down on last year and in fact it is now mostly prequels etc that are getting made. I hope in a way that this may revive the independent scene a little more.
    Glad the sun is out where you are, it is finally raining here guess that means a bank Holiday is on it's way.

  2. I completely enjoyed Ne le dis a personne, though I know what Pater means; won't discuss plot here but there IS a suspension of belief I was entirely willing to make for the sake of an absorbing thriller.

    Next I watched was the remarkable I've Loved You for So Long (Il ya longtemps que je t'aime), the role of Kristin Scott Thomas' career so far and one of the most complex and moving films I have seen. Must-see!

    Saw Rachel Getting Married immediately after and just couldn't care about the characters, and found it too facile and flabbily-edited. These two, back to back, illustrate the difference between a self consciously quirky indy film and a masterpiece of storytelling and restraint.

    Will go out immediately and get "Things We Lost", thanks!

  3. The only film on your list I have scene is Rachel Getting Married. I really liked it. I thought Anne Hathaway's performance had nuance, depth and a real emotional honesty.

    I will add your other recommendations to my list. You have good taste in films, lady.:-)

  4. Alison: You crack me up! I'll assume that until you bump into his compassion, wit, etc., you're making do with his manly good looks . . . I can't wait, by the way, to be able to see some plays in London -- you're so lucky to have that access readily. We just booked at a B&B-type hotel near King's Cross, recommended in a guidebook so I'll cross my fingers that it's okay. The price was certainly right.
    Duchesse: The film Pater was complaining about was Deux Jours à Tuer -- if you thought the premise of Ne le dis was shaky, you'll have to rent Deux Jours just to see how much shakier a premise can be!
    LBR: I enjoyed RGM as well and was impressed by Hathaway -- she's definitely one to watch. And can you imagine a wedding like that?!

  5. The key to that scene in Rachel - Tunde Adibempe, lead singer of TV on the Radio, is singing the song AS the vows. Game, set, and match.

    May I also recommend Happy Go Lucky.

  6. Hmm, most of those were on my list, but Rachel Getting Married was not. It is duly added and bumped up to the top.

    We saw Gran Torino, it was a movie G really wanted to see, and although I am not a fan of early Eastwood movies I have grown to increasingly respect his more recent endeavors. I thought the movie was well done and I agree with you about good acting, well-drawn characters and a satisfying ending. I am intrigued by the way the movie plays to stereotypes and yet also rounds out the characters and gives them depth beyond the expected.

  7. Oh, right! You might also like "Le Tueur", a first film dir. by Cederic Anger. Original, and also a homage to J-P Melville.

  8. Thom: Thanks for the recommendation (and for the info re that stunning Neil Young rendition)
    Mardel: Absolutely. At first, I groaned at the obvious caricature presented in the ever-so-boyish priest, but this character surprised the audience in a way that was typical of a number of characters. I was impressed by the range of decent roles given to previously little-known actors, as well.
    Duchesse: Thanks, I'll look for this.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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