The. Up. Waiting. A. Message

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May 23rd, 2015

This week, I’m down one film because Arthur my video man, bless his cotton socks, put ‘The Line of Fire‘ in the ‘Message in the Bottle‘ DVD case, and I didn’t feel like an action film. So …

The Notebook, Nick Cassavettes (2004). A friend has this thing about Ryan Gosling, which she was hoping I would get, mostly if I saw this film. And I must say, yes I now get ‘it’. Is it just me, or is this every woman’s idea of cool? This guy that just comes up to you out of the blue, is absolutely in love with you, and would do anything for you and will be with you for the rest of your life, in sickness and in health. I’m just a crazy, single lady aren’t I. But I now get it. Just so we’re clear, just because his name is Gosling, he, that is, Ryan, didn’t arrange the geese ‘on golden pond’ in the middle of the film. That was just his character – just so you know. Gena Rowlands and James Garner are also lovely. Gena has been in another few of my favourites, Night on Earth, Broken English and Paris Je t’aime (of course!!) and she’s the director’s mother from what I can see. Nice film to watch in hopeful singledom especially given the Bridget Jones-type decision the heroine needs to make.

Up in the Air, Jason Reitman, (2009). George Clooney as a bachelor. Nostalgia. He is now married. That’s all. I’ve seen it before, and it wasn’t that impressive that time either. Being quite a keen flyer and observer of the earth from the air, I did enjoy looking down on all the cities that this frequent flyer frequented. Nice touch.

Waiting for Guffman, Christopher Guest, (1997). To call Christopher Guest the director seems a little misleading, as it is quite clear that the assembled cast (similar to a Wes Anderson line up and crossing over with Best in Show, Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind) are the consummate professionals when it comes to their stylised/improvised mockumentaries. Whilst not the laugh a minute that Spinal Tap or Best in Show are, I was nevertheless both amused and impressed by the stools and martian landings of Blaine. It really is ridiculous, but oh so funny! Guest is brilliant, so too are Parker Posey and the hilarious Eugene Levy, and what really gets me when you see Guest’s whole oeuvre back to back, is the amazing acting skills they bring to bear. Really different characters brought to life by wonderful actors. I can imagine filming tends to resemble theatre sports. Really funny.

A Mighty Wind, Christopher Guest, (2003). Back together for the first time, again” It got me thinking that this little clutch of films is really Andersonian, minus the prop and set detail. It is striking what a group of actors who work together over a period can achieve. The films are quite formulaic, but they really tickle my funny bone, because their observation of the chosen ‘genre’ is just so spot on. Sandals and sock wearing hippies, Lars, Sven and Pippi Olfen and the ex-band members that go off to start sex shops, just as with Spinal Tap, you’d have to read the script to really get all of the ‘in-jokes’. So very simple, so very clever and entirely worth the $2 I paid to hire the DVD. Thanks for recommending these ones (musician friends – you know who you are!!).

with the correct disc in the cover …

Message in a Bottle, Luis Mandoki (1999). Maybe being descended from boat builders makes me a sucker for boat films. Maybe I liked The Police a little too much. Maybe I like Paul Newman, Kevin Costner and Robin Wright (Princess Bride got me early – that’s where I’ve seen her before) (and the connection with all the other films this week – Christopher Guest of course!!!!). Maybe I’m just a great big romantic. Maybe this is just a lovely, sentimental film that provides a really good excuse to cry my eyes out. Or all of the above. I enjoyed it, and I particularly liked that Therese’s boss secretly liked her all along, and that he was always telling her instead of being a researcher, that she should write. I had always thought I’d make a good researcher, and now I’m getting around to thinking I should write. Maybe that’s why I liked this film.

Tea. Syriana. In. Brazil. Best.

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April 2nd, 2015

So, latest movie marathon – something for everyone!

Tea with Mussolini, Franco Zeffirelli (1999)– the combination of Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith never fails to satisfy. Add in Joan Plowright, Cher and Lily Tomlin, and what more could you want. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story – especially about Mussolini. Some may say I’m old before my time. Let them.

Syriana, Stephen Gaghan (2005)– Kind of have to say the same for this line up – George and Matt – but I’m a fan of this combo from way back (ie. Oceans ….). Oh, and did I see William Hurt – that’s also got to be good :)! Same old CIA games – gotta wonder when this story will tire. Same story, different countries. American foreign policy is like a broken record. I seem to remember this film was well reviewed (David and Margaret gave it 4 stars each), but unfortunately for me, good needs to have some kind of originality involved. Maybe some people were surprised about the content. Others of us are just, ‘same old, same old’. Maybe they need to bring out another film about how they won the Vietnam war.

In the Cut, Jane Campion (2003) – A thriller would not normally be on my list, but I have an article about Margaret’s top 5 films of all times. This was on the list. I’d have to say, apart from being annoyed about watching Meg Ryan’s Botox’d upper lip for 2 hours, this was a fantastic Jane Campion film. You can tell by the cinematography – it was reminiscent of Bright Star for lingering shots on quirky colour/texture. I love it.

Brazil, Terry Gilliam (1985) – there should be more films like this made. The dystopian world portrayed strikes at every excess of our current ‘lifestyle’. So very relevant today in so many ways. Who could have known in the eighties how the small screens people could watch anywhere, including in the bath would take over our life. Life really does imitate art (we’re only running 30 years behind science fiction really). Plastic surgery etc etc etc. Love the ducts – ever present (making me smile in every scene). Love the girl of his dreams, bureaucracy, complicity, it was Fahrenheit 451 in a film – j’adore!

and from the sublime to the ridiculous … Best in Show, Christopher Guest (2000). A laugh a minute, out loud. I’ve seen this before, but it is just so, so good and so very funny. ‘Stop listing nuts’ you ventriloquist … :)! The show commentator/UK expert is of course the highlight, but then there’s Parker Posey also a favourite of mine. Big smile, best thing to watch when you’ve been home sick from work all day.

So there you have it. Themes of the week – torture – of all different kinds, plastic surgery or the merits of growing old gracefully and 2-hour-long films.