I’ve been remiss in not posting recent films I’ve watched. Here’s a very brief account:
Take Me Home: An unlikely story about a New York woman who discovers her husband is having an affair and an unauthorized NY cabbie, and would-be photographer, who gets cornered into driving her to California to visit her ailing father. I quite liked this film, perhaps especially because the tale is littered with setbacks and bad luck — something I find it very easy to identify with and take in.
Vatel: Everybody knows that French King Louis XIV was a spendthrift and given to elaborate excess, including constructing his lavish property at Versailles. What happens when this king invites himself to your home for a three-day weekend? Obviously, you’ll have to put on an impressive party. But who will orchestrate it? This film, starring a convincing Gerard Depardieu, offers a picture of a visit from this over-the-top monarch from the point of view of the poor bastard who had to stage the event — right down to the littlest tasty hors d’oeuvres. The film is based on a true story and an on-going mystery in French history, too — but I’ll say no more. Be prepared to gasp at the ends to which Vatel (Depardieu’s character) goes to please and impress the king.
Maidentrip: Documentary of a teenage Dutch girl who sails her boat, the Guppy, around the globe. While interesting and well done — I liked the map graphics of her boat’s movement from place to place — the film suffers from the fact that it is, in the end, a teenager making the voyage. As everybody knows, these kinds of creatures can be vapid and uninteresting, even in quite dramatic circumstances. She, alas, is.
Lonely Hearts: Tells the story of a Bonnie-and-Clyde-like couple who, in the early 1950s, exploit the lonely circumstances of war widows. John Travolta and James Gandolfini play two detectives on their trail. Despite very nice art work, the film is dogged by an air of inauthenticity. Travolta is interesting in his transition to a middle-aged and battered character. And he underplays his character admirably. Laura Dern is good, also, as his let’s-not-tell-anyone love interest and work colleague. The film fails partly because the casting of “Bonnie,” in particular, completely missed the mark. (I can imagine a “Bonnie” that would have worked much, much better.) Yet the film, despite it all, is still worth watching. Warning however: some gruesome violence.
Columbus Circle: In a word, skip this one. (Incidentally, I just could not figure out where I’d seen the female lead before; I just looked it up — she was Hellboy’s love interest in the first Hellboy film.)
Dean Spanley: Talk about an unlikely tale! This New Zealand film is certainly a throw-away experience from start to finish. But it has charm, is well made, and strangely pleasing. Be sure to watch this one with your dog, if any.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Another quirky, art-driven, masterpiece from Wes Anderson.