Thursday, September 4, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Movies

We started Sunday morning with 2 French, subtitled movies, written and directed by François Truffaut.

Jules et Jim (1962) is a dizzying display of love and devotion. The title characters, two men, have a loving friendship that no woman can come between. Even Catherine, the "love anyone, anywhere, anytime" woman who blows into their lives. While the men value their friendship more than their love of Catherine, they do take turns being with her. And she uses poor Jules as a doormat, constantly cheating on him. All-in-all, I'm just not sure what they see in her. Ditch the skank!

Le Dernier Metro (1980) stars Catherine Deneuve as the wife of a Jewish theartre director, during the German occupation of France. She runs the theatre and stars in the production, while her husband lives in the basement and gives notes. Gérard Depardieu is her co-star and also part of the resistance. While the acting is first-rate, the story just watches the action, without really involving us. Not really a message, more of a documentary, almost.

Then we watched The Cars That Ate Paris (1974) from Australian Peter Weir. A weird and quirky film about teenagers in a small Australian town who use the tricked-out, Mad Max-styled cars to wreck hapless passer-bys. The entire town profits from scavenging the wrecks, even while the townspeople protest the "shiftless" teens. But, nothing is done to attempt to stop them, until the mayor "adopts" one of the innocent victims. Sound confusing? It was! However, it was dark and twisted, with the great "ball" scene at the end. This movie allowed Weir to direct his next film, Picnic at Hanging Rock. At least this one had an ending!

We then changed gears (double-pun!) and watched Transamerica (2005), starring the fantastic Felicity Huffman as a transgender woman ready to have surgery to complete the process. In a complicated, movie-only reason, she drives her unsuspecting and unknown son across the country. They of course get to know and respect each other, even though she never tells him she's his father. Some of the scenes are funny, and the concern seems genuine. The most moving scenes, perhaps, are when the grandparents, who are overly-critical of their "son" and his transformation, completely dote on their brand-new grandson. Classic! In the end, life isn't perfect but the two seem to come to grips with their relationship. More or less a Hollywood ending, but the great acting holds up throughout this interesting drama.

Keeping with the theme, we finished the day watching Boys Don't Cry (1999), with the Oscar-winning performance by Hilary Swank. Based on a true story, 20-year-old Teena Brandon masquerades as a boy, Brandon Teena. Dating girls and being one of the guys, drinking, partying and getting in trouble, she/he's heading for trouble. And trouble finds her in the form of the male friends she makes, as she gets serious with Lana, Chloë Sevigny in another star-turn performance. The man discover the truth about "Brandon" and the movie ends in a savage way. Sadly true, a very emotional story.

Monday night we watched You Kill Me (2007), a dark comedy starring Ben Kingsley as an alcoholic hitman. Sent to San Fransisco to dry out, he is "guided" by Bill Pullman (doing a great job, actually "acting" in a surprising role where he is not the ex-husband or nice-guy, but a rather dark and dangerous and unattractive loser) and helped by his AA sponsor Luke Wilson, in an unnecessary role, under-utilized and merely cast to add a younger "star", IMHO. Ben meets Tea Leoni (an executive producer and unsuspecting wife of sex-addict Fox Mulder) and guess what - they fall in love! Thanks to his new love, he cleans up his act and gets back to what he does best - killing people. While the great acting of Ben Kingsley (add him to the list of must-see actors) and Bill Pullman are fun to watch, the movie ends up with a fairly traditional (including the obligatory "twist") ending. A fun diversion, just don't hope for a deep message.

And that was the holiday viewing, down on the farm.

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