Love And Death And In Between
Smart And Spicy
March 29, 2018
Do you miss movies you can chew?
You know, the sort of movie you mull over later, that you want to kick around with friends? That's what I'm talking about.
A fine film is no laughing matter. Hard to find these days midst the cluttered box office high gross heap of comic heroes, dark thrillers, and budget-eating animated crowdpleasers.
"What did you think of the film? "
"Yeah, it was good."
"Let's talk about it."
"Just let me check my email..."
In this era where the need to know who liked your latest Facebook post or how your Instagram pics are
doing, where a President's tweet ties up incoming, is there room for a movie you can discuss?
Wouldn't that be nice?
Or is it that you pays your money, you resist popcorn or can't, and an hour and some minutes later, you're out of there. You're done. What you just saw goes into your long-term old news files, likely to not be accessed again. But you saw it; you can tell people you did, that's what counts, right?
* * *
"Finding Your Feet" is a terrific little movie. It's got Imelda Staunton ("Vera Drake," "Harry Potter"), it's got London, it's got dancing, and has songs you'll be singing for days.
It's about second chances and taking a chance. Learning that her newly-knighted husband has been cheating with her best friend, Staunton takes off on impulse to visit the sister she never really quite liked. The sister's her polar opposite; she's free-wheeling, pot smoking and having a pretty good time. Disapproving, Staunton tolerates her sister's quirky friends, watching as they create happiness. These are not kids, they're retirement age people saying no to decrepitude.
Shot in iconic London, from Piccadilly to Soho to the Leicester Square underground stop, then on to Rome, the characters grab at how rich life might be is funny. And fun!
* * *
"Leaning Into The Wind" looks at artist Andy Goldsworthy's obsession with understanding nature until he and it become one. Beautiful photography, music that's perfect yet never gets in your way, and a grab bag of original ideas for creating art, these are the stars.
Goldsworthy likes to get into the earth. With his hands, with his body, inserting them, coloring them with leaves, going deep into a hedge. It's not spooky; it’s rather quirky.
Watching gives you increased feeling for nature; slowly you begin to see a genius creating works of art which might even be fleeting, yet he can't help being impelled by his creativity.
Goldsworthy doesn't so much so much conquer nature as create an homage to less-glimpsed oddities, which at times one might otherwise walk by. From Scotland and London, to the South of France, then New England, the artist merges with his art as his sculptures grow huge, requiring extensive machinery and crews. Is it art? Is this an artist to equal the greats? It makes your thoughts dance.
* * *
Laughing at death was never so funny. Hilariously out-manoeuvring all challengers while behind-the-scenes politics push a gentleman's code of behavior, "The Death of Stalin" is a comic look at how the dictator died.
Steve Buscemi's clearly the one to watch. His Khrushchev, played with a disconcertingly Jewish accent, is the sneakiest kind of evil: understated, uncertain, yet curling up tightly meshed end-game strategy as he plots midst others, who themselves plotting political survival.
Director Armando Iannucci ("Veep") knows satire. He frames his extreme close-up of this bunch of oafish thugs as comedy you'll relish.
James Isaacs, as Zhukov, controls the full military as he plots a takeover with Khrushchev.
Is this a sendoff about Donald Trump?
"No," Isaacs insists. "The film was made in June, 2016, before Trump became the candidate."
"What's going on at the moment is just beyond satire, an insult to democracy," Isaacs says, cautioning that's only his personal opinion.
* * *
Don't you miss a good French movie? Midst the cult epics of our time, and all the sequels of sequels of sequels,
have you forgotten how it feels to just feel good after seeing universal themes played out in the French countryside?
"Back to Burgundy" is delicious. It's one of those movies that's destined to never be a "big" movie, but that you know in your heart is a really good movie.
Love and family is the story, with lingering flavors of betrayal and money.
Bonus: you get to learn a lot about making wine. Yes, you get to see the iconic scene, without Lucille Ball, of foot stomping all those grapes.
But this movie's about love, and acceptance.
When their father dies, two brothers and a sister gather to help out with this year's wine harvest. It's less a case of exploding tensions than it is a film about well-meaning people who need to figure out the right thing to do.
It's sweet. And it's real.
This film makes you want to go out and drink a good Mersault. Don't miss.
Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.
You can write to her at: firstname.lastname@example.org