I’ve been on the road for a while now, and I try to load up on newly released movies if I have a long commute or travel day, which I usually do. Thus, I’ve seen a lot of movies lately, so I thought I’d provide a lightning-round review of some of what I’ve seen.
1. Saving Mr. Banks: Thumbs Up! We actually found a theatre in Chennai showing this on its screen, so part of our enjoyment came from the experience of a real live movie theatre, but I thought it was well acted and interesting. And, I am in the huge camp of people who believe Mary Poppins is “practically perfect in every way”, so seeing her again was a sweet reunion.
2. A Year in Burgundy: Another documentary about 3 or 4 vintners in Burgundy, and how their year revolves around the grapes. Beautiful scenery, of course, and once again we see why the French can be a little haughty…their life looks very sweet through the lens. And, be prepared to be very thirsty for a drink of Burgundy’s finest product. Oh that we could find it here…
3. 20 Feet from Stardom: Documentary about back-up singers that is full of great singing. The story gets repetitive but the singing is worth the wait.
4. All is Lost: This is the Indie movie starring Robert Redford as a guy who encounters some serious troubles on the seas in his sailboat. He’s the only actor, but he’s got what it takes to keep you interested. It’s well done.
5. The French Minister: A new French dark comedy about politics, French style. I thought with all the hoopla in the Indian press about their upcoming elections, it might be good fun to see someone else’s campaign follies. The movie is sometimes a little too French to get whether it’s a joke or not, but I found myself laughing out loud sometimes, so it tickled me.
6. FROZEN: As soon as someone told me Idini Menzel sings in this, I was in. I was also excited to see Jonathan Groff (another Broadway star who I saw in Spring Awakening) had a role, but he did NOT do enough singing. Only a very short silly song. That man has a gorgeous voice, so that was sad. Also, Idina should have sang more. It was interesting and well done, above average for Disney, and I remember all the years reading The Snow Queen to one daughter who was obsessed with it, so I’m sure the knee-high population was spell bound.
Inside Lleywn Davis, the CONCERT: Not to be confused with a movie/documentary by the Coen Brothers, which I did NOT see, because I heard it was messed up. This concert was wonderful, full of great folk song talent, new and old, so I got some great ideas for new songs. Don't miss it. Also, I was watching and humming along when I noticed a face I recognized. Indeed, it was a former preschool-high school classmates of Daughter #2, playing her bass and singing her own song. Well done, B.K.!
7. 12 Years a Slave: Disappointing to both S and I. Of course slavery was/is awful, dehumanizing, etc, but I kept looking for something fresh or original in this story and didn’t get it. Must have missed something.
8. Dallas Buyer’s Club: Didn’t expect much from Kevin Mc, but I was pleasantly surprised. Also, the rock star/actor who played the transgendered person was pretty fabulous. Also, I felt the movie gives a small taste of how horrific and isolating it must have been during those years if you were HIV+.
And, DRUM ROLL PLEASE, the SLEEPER of them all, ABOUT TIME. I doubt this quiet, charming, well-acted movie made much noise in the American theatres, but I found it delightful and thoughtful. First there is Rachel McAdams, and she’s so pretty you just want her to dress up and come out for oogling. Second, Bill Nighy has a starring role, and I am a little in love with his style. He is, in turns, zany, sarcastic, and openly sentimental, and he makes the movie worth the goofy premise. I loved him in Bridget Jones and Marigold Hotel. And you get to see some wonderful English countryside. Oh for a garden to snip and dig in!
Also, in case anyone missed it the first time around, like me, on HBO I saw the movie SHANGHAI KNIGHTS, starring Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan. They both keep you entertained in their unique ways, Owen with that cute innocence/ignorance thing he has going on, Jackie with his incredible moves, and together they make a pretty good caper movie, with the requisite puns, running gags, and action. Check it out when you need some yuks.
Oh, and if anyone is looking for an interesting biography to read, Ved Metha’s Face to Face, a book chronicling growing up blind in pre-partition India, was quite well done. I saw him in person at the Jaipur Lit Festival, and I could tell a great mind was inside those words. He wrote for the New Yorker for decades and is still writing more stuff I want to read, when I get a breath. His volume of work makes us all look like slackers. I don't think he sleeps.