Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Weekend at the movies

By Aussiegirl

If you are staying home this Labor Day weekend, what with the high gas prices and all, and need a break from the hurricane coverage, here are my suggestions (in no particular order) for some possible rentals at the local video store. Maybe you'll find some movies you missed the first time around -- or make a few suggestions of your own:

****Hope and Glory (young boy's memories of WWII England)

***Truly, Madly, Deeply (husband's ghost comes back to comfort grieving widow -- Alan Rickman and Juliette Stephenson are brilliant).

**Something the Lord Made (Alan Rickman again in a lovely true story of the black researcher who helped pioneer heart surgery)

***Enigma (drama and mystery based on the cracking of the Enigma code)

***October Sky (true story of the impoverished W. Va. boys who grew up to become NASA rocket scientists)

***The Rabbit-Proof Fence (true story of two young aboriginal girls, taken from their mother to be adopted out to white families, who walked back to find their family -- unforgettable performances by native first-time actors.)

***Whale Rider --(great New Zealand tale of a young girl's coming of age and the conflict of old and new cultures and generations)

***Monsoon Wedding (Indian movie mostly in English -- charming romantic comedy of love, families and culture -- the Indian wedding at the end is not to be missed)

***Bend it Like Beckham (Generational and culture conflicts mix with girls soccer, love, marriage and another fabulous Indian wedding to top it off)

***Ray (great music, fab. performance by Jamie Foxx)

***Anna Karenina (the Icon production with Sophie Marceau)

**Immortal Beloved (it's about Beethoven -- and a bit off on who the mystery woman was, but it's a good artistic impression of Beethoven's
music and character -- much dialogue taken directly from his letters -- Gary Oldman plays the piano himself and gives a masterful impression of
the great genius and his tragedy.)

****A Perfect Husband (Absolutely perfect adaptation of Wilde's brilliant play)

****The Importance of Being Earnest (the new version with Reece Witherspoon -- delightful adaptation of Wilde)

**Being Julia -- (not perfect -- but very entertaining -- Annette Benning does her best to be a pale imitation of Bette Davis' turn in "All About Eve")

**De-Lovely (The Cole Porter story -- glosses over a lot of the ugly stuff -- and the musical evocations are far from perfect -- but a creditable try -- not sure if the flashback bit works, and the makeup is a bit much -- but still some beautiful visual scenes - not enough music and dancing)

***Beyond Rangoon (Patricia Arquette -- moving story about the fight for democracy in Burma -- young doctor grieving the murders of her husband and child gets caught up in a revolution.)

****The Dead (John Huston's last film -- Angelica Huston is marvelous as are all the cast -- a perfect evocation of that beautiful James Joyce's classic.)

***Strictly Ballroom (a Baz Luhrmann cult favorite -- charming variation on the boy meets girl story in an Australian ballroom dancing milieu).

***Cold Comfort Farm -- (marvelous sendup of a certain kind of Gothic tale popular in the 30's -- a quirky and unforgettable comedy -- top rate British cast)

**Local Hero -- (quirky low-key comedy about an American business man sent to an idyllic Scottish seaside town to set up a site for a nuclear power plant -- not what you'd expect --- Burt Lancaster is wonderful in a cameo performance -- beautiful scenery and quirky locals make for a charming movie)

**The Others (Nicole Kidman in an eerie and unusual ghost story)

***The Devil's Advocate -- (good commercial flick starring Keanu Reeves, with a memorable performance by Al Pacino -- good evocation of the old
Faust theme)
****Heat -- (Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in a to-the-death cat and mouse duel between a tormented cop and his criminal nemesis -- a great
morality tale)
****A Bronx Tale (wonderful story of a young boy's coming of age, torn between his honest, bus driver father and the lure and glamor of the local mobsters)

***Collateral (better than usual thriller with Tom Cruise and a
memorable performance by Jamie Foxx)

****Enemies, A Love Story -- (Based on the Isaac Bashevis-Singer novel -- well done and beautifully portrayed by Ron Silver and Angelica Huston)

****The Firemen's Ball (Milos Forman's unforgettable satirical comedy which got him kicked out of Czechoslovakia.)

***Christ Stopped at Eboli (Italian film I saw years ago -- I loved it then, but haven't seen it in years. Political activist exiled to remote Italian village learns about human nature from the villagers -- Irene Pappas stars.)

**The Badge (small film with Billie Bob Thornton and Patricia Arquette -- small town sheriff tries to solve crime which leads to the state's highest political figures -- nicely done)

**The Gift (Cate Blanchette as a Louisiana medium who gets involved in solving a murder.)
***Coal Miner's Daughter (You won't find a better movie about growing up
in the coal mines or of the early years of the Grand Old Oprey -- a true
American rags to riches tale, with unforgettable performances by Cissie
Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones -- great music)

***Moonstruck -- (Even Cher was great in this charming tale of of love, life and families -- "A la familia!" -- the music score of Puccini's "La
Boheme" doesn't hurt either.)

Oldies but goodies:

****Garden of the Finzi-Continis (Bertollucci's masterful evocation of pre-WWII Italy)

****The Conformist -- is sadly not available on DVD as yet -- a classic Bertollucci film -- based on the marvelous novel -- well worth reading by Alberto Moravia. Available on video.

***Beat the Devil (offbeat comedy, directed by John Huston, written by Truman Capote with an all-star cast including Bogie, Jennifer Jones,
Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morely, Sidney Greenstreet and a host of

***War and Peace (Audrey Hepburn version -- OK maybe not perfect - but then a movie is not the book -- Audrey Hepburn is wonderful -- and the movie does capture the scope -- the old "cast of thousands")

***Random Harvest (Ronald Coleman in a memorable role -- great
photography -- starts off like melodrama, but is carried by its stellar performances, excellent dialogue and script and wonderful photography, especially in the opening scenes.)

****All About Eve -- (Bette Davis at her bitchiest best - I never tire of this one -- the script and direction are flawless)

****Sunset Boulevard - (Gloria Swanson is unforgettable -- what a script -- what photography and direction!)

****Pygmalion (I like this version of the original play with Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller even better than the musical version.)

****The Scartlet Pimpernell (melodrama meets brilliant performances by Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon to become a screen classic -- "We seek
him here -- we seek him there -- those Frenchies seek him everywhere --
is he in Heaven -- or is he in Hell -- that demned elusive Pimpernel.")

****The Rose Tattoo -- (Burt Lancaster playing against type with the volatile and explosive Anna Magnani in Tennessee William's unforgettable play -- Magnani won best Oscar for her first ever English-language film
-- written expressly for her by Williams.)

****Streetcar Named Desire (We've all seen this -- but Brando and Vivien Leigh were born to play these roles by Williams -- every time I see the play I hear new music in the words and see deeper into the human condition -- but then -- that's Williams for you.)

(Williams is of course, fitting for another entire discussion -- to me the all time greatest American playwright who plumbed the depths of the human condition -- and another subject for another time -- his homosexuality which led to a deep understanding of the vulnerabilities of women. I have always felt that great writers and artists need to contain in them both male and female qualities to be able to fully understand and reflect the human condition -- you see it in composers such as Verdi and Beethoven -- who could traverse the chasm between themost tender feminine nuance -- and the most brutal and powerful extremes
of masculinity. Oh, those Dead White Males -- what treasures they left


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