A Serious Man (2009) by the Coen brothers. Larry Gupnik, a geeky Jewish college professor in Minneapolis (only know that from DVD cover notes, otherwise it could be set in any suburban area in the 1960s), is a kind of pathetic ‘nice’ guy who never does anything, as in the defensive reaction, “I didn’t do anything!” So his wife wants to leave him, his kids are a mess, he may lose his career, his mentally ill brother may be arrested for sodomy, etc. To figure out what things mean and what to do, he sets out to visit a few local rabbis for wisdom. Very similar to a Woody Allen movie in the way that it explores the concepts of good and evil and the idea of a moral universe.
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), dir. Woody Allen, with Allen, Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine, etc. Haven’t seen it in about 20 years. Thought then, and think now, that there is no sympathetic character in the movie. None are likable. Is that the point? Or should I like them? All are certainly vulnerable, perhaps hyper-vulnerable, but they are not appealing for all that vulnerability. Why is that? The jazz/classical soundtrack is great, as always. And Bobby Short at the Carlisle!
Agatha Christie’s Poirot episodes (all re-screenings):
- The Veiled Lady (1990), with Poirot, Hastings, Japp and Miss Lemon
- The Cornish Mystery (1990), with Poirot, Hastings, Japp and Miss Lemon
- The Case of the Missing Will (1993), with Poirot, Hastings, Japp and Miss Lemon
- Lord Edgeware Dies (2000; feature-length) , with Poirot, Hastings, Japp and Miss Lemon
- The Mystery of the Blue Train (2006; feature-length), with Elliott Gould as an American businessman.
Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005): Documentary of the architect, directed by his friend, Sydney Pollack. I liked it. Looks at Gehry’s life, his creative process, how he became an architect, his ego/persona (quite a bit of commentary from his long-time therapist), and his career and team, with focus on the Vitra Museum in Germany, Maggie’s Centre in Dundee Scotland, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Disney Concert Hall in L.A., and Gehry’s own house. One gets a definite sense of who Gehry is from this film.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot episodes (both re-screenings):
- The Third Girl (2008): a feature-length Masterpiece Theatre production, with Zoë Wanamaker as Ariadne Oliver. Very different from the novel (no Miss Lemon, for one thing, and set in the 1930s instead of the 1960s) but not a bad film or mystery overall.
- Appointment with Death (2008): a very badly overdone Masterpiece Theatre feature-length production, diverging considerably from Christie’s novel, with laughably dramatic and not especially relevant scenes — inserted into the film every 10 minutes or so — of Arabian horses dashing through the desert and lots of shots conveying the diversity of life in Samarra. The story of Death’s appointment with a merchant in Samaara is told and much emphasis put on its centrality to the story. Set in Syria. Tim Curry stars as deluded archaeologist Lord Boynton. Elizabeth McGovern plays Lady Celia. I had a lot of trouble keeping the characters straight as most of the women resembled each other, as did the men (each other). Not recommended.
The Awful Truth (1937), dir. Leo McCarey, starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant and Ralph Bellamy. Re-screening. Jealousy leads a wealthy married couple, Lucy and Jerry Warriner (Dunne and Grant), to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other’s attempts to find other partners. Some witty banter, and, of course, the enchanting Cary Grant. But I don’t find Dunne or Bellamy compelling or particularly attractive, so the film is a bit flat for me. The couple’s wire-haired fox terrier, Mr. Smith, performs a good hide-and-seek trick.
Salesman (1968), a documentary by the Maysles brothers. Depressing. Hard to watch. Follows four salesmen in the Boston and then in the Miami areas, trying to sell family Bibles. Dozens of sales pitches. Lots of motel rooms. Also a few sales meetings where the salesmen are exhorted to sell and told to take responsibility for their own success or failure. I couldn’t root for anyone, because while the life of a salesman looks difficult and disheartening — lots of frustration, rejection, loneliness and anxiety every day– on the other hand, almost all of the people they were trying to sell to looked like they were already living hand to mouth.
Washington Square (1997), based on the Henry James novel, with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Albert Finney, Maggie Smith, Ben Chaplin. A period piece set in New York (mostly) about a plain woman with money in love with a ‘beautiful’ man without money. Not a happy movie, but it kept my attention (though not my spouse’s).
Agatha Christie’s Poirot (all re-viewings):
- Murder on the Orient Express (2010), feature-length. A very unsatisfying film in some ways. Poirot wrestles with a moral dilemma at the end and makes a choice that seems to be not in keeping with the rest of Agatha Christie’s work.
- Death on the Nile (2004), feature-length. Set in Egypt. Plot: a jilted lover stalks her former lover and his new wife.
- Murder in Mesopotamia (2001), feature-length, set in Iraq (in Baghdad and in the desert). Includes Hastings. Plot: an archaeologist’s wife has received threatening letters from her long-time-ago-former husband for years; when she’s killed, Poirot investigates the past as well as the present.
- Evil Under the Sun (2001), feature-length. Set in the UK at an island health spa, where Poirot has gone (with Hastings in tow) on doctor’s orders to lose weight and get in shape. (Some shape other than round, that is.) Jealousy and rivalry run high, revolving around a flirtatious actress whom some seem to desire but most seem to hate. Miss Lemon and Inspector Japp also have minor roles in this film.
The Bob Newhart Show episodes from Season 3 (all re-viewings):
- Brutally Yours, Bob Hartley (1974) – Bob follows his own advice about being honest
- Life is a Hamburger (1974): Carol plans to marry an eccentric writer no one else likes
- An American Family (1974): Bob and Emily’s parents compete with each other at Thanksgiving
- We Love You … Good-Bye (1974) – Bob invites Emily to sit in on his women’s consciousness-raising group
- Home is Where the Hurt Is (1974): Carol spends Christmas Eve yammering on about her bad childhood to Bob and Emily.
The Bob Newhart Show episodes from Season 1 (all re-viewings):
- P-I-L-O-T (1972) – all about Emily and Bob wanting a baby after being married 3 yrs, but not being able to and deciding to adopt.
- The Man with the Golden Wrist (1973) – Emily gives Bob a too-expensive wristwatch for his 40th birthday, and surprises him with an unwanted party.
- Not with My Sister You Don’t (1973) – Howard is over protective of his grown sister, who goes out with Jerry on a date.
- A Home Is Not Necessarily a House (1973) – Bob and Emily think about buying a house in the suburbs.
Mrs. Brown (1997) with Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, Geoffrey Palmer, Antony Sher (as Disraeli),about Queen Victoria’s passionate friendship with her Scottish servant John Brown, beginning 3 years after Albert dies. I have the same response to almost all of these historical British royalty films, which is that they’re pleasant enough. This one was a bit more subtle than some others, with good acting.
The Beaches of Agnès (2008), New Wave filmmaker Agnès Varda’s documentary of her life, including her relationship with her late husband, Jacques Demy. IMDB says it best: An 81-year-old “Agnès Varda explores her memories, mostly chronologically, with photographs, film clips, interviews, reenactments, and droll, playful contemporary scenes of her narrating her story.” In French with subtitles. Set in Belgium, Sète, Paris, Noirmoutier, and, briefly, Los Angeles (Hollywood). Lovely.
A Room with a View (1985) with Helena Bonham-Carter, Maggie Smith, Daniel Day Lewis, Simon Callow, Julian Sands, Denholm Elliott, Judi Dench.Re-screening after many many years. Lucy Honeychurch leads a sheltered life, with a chaperon and mother who keep her from experiencing much of men or romance. Her vicar seems to be the only person who understands (and encourages the fact) that she is a passionate soul who yearns to respond “Yes!” to the world around her — until George Emerson and his “rather odd” father come along while they are all travelling in Florence. Of course, Lucy plans to marry a prig and fights her inappropriate feelings for the inappropriate and “abominable” George. Lovely scenery and accents, some humour, but I wanted it to end about 45 mins before it did.
Bed & Board (1970), dir. Francois Truffaut, with Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claude Jade and Hiroko Berghauer. French. Antoine Doinel (a character first seen in The 400 Blows) makes his last appearance, as an apparently happily married newlywed living in a flat in France and dying flowers for a living. When he gets a new (and equally wtf?) job, he meets and falls for a quiet Japanese woman. Classic love triangle ensues, with a few scenes designed to showcase that aspect. Roger Ebert calls it “one of the most decent and loving films I can remember,” but I didn’t feel that — I thought Antoine’s behaviour towards the end was unkind and immature.
Summer Hours (2008), dir Olivier Assayas, with Juliette Binoche, Jeremie Renier, Charles Berling and Edith Scob. French, set in the Ile-de-France region of northern France. The story of 3 adult children (one living in France, one in Hong Kong, one in NYC) and their decisions about what to do with their mother’s beautiful estate — which contains some important contemporary art, objet and furniture — after she dies. A beautifully shot film, with acting and dialogue that allows the characters to have complex emotions. I recommend it.
The Bob Newhart Show episodes from Season 2 (all re-viewings):
- The Modernization of Emily (1974) – Emily tries to dress younger and hipper to stave off middle age.
- The Jobless Corps (1974) – Howard loses his job as a navigator and joins Bob’s out-of-work therapy group.
- Clink Shrink (1974) – Bob counsels a convicted armed robber out on parole (Henry Winkler).
- Mind Your Own Business (1974) – Bob hires Jerry’s business manager, who puts him on a budget.
- By the Way, You’re Fired (1974) – Jerry fires Carol for spending too much work time on her new romance.
Mary and Max (2009), claymation story about a lonely 8-yr-old girl in Australia and a 44-year-old man with Aspberger’s in NYC who become penpals and whose somewhat conflicted friensship spans 20 years. The back of the DVD box calls it “hilarious,” which it is not. It’s bittersweet and poignant. The two main voices are Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman, with Barry Humphries narrating.
Caro Diario (2003) – Italian with subtitles. Filmmaker Nanni Moretti stars as himself in this autobiographical comedy/slice-of-life. The film is very much as Roger Ebert describes it: “The movie … is divided into three segments. In the first, he tours Rome on his Vespa scooter, talking to us, and to people he meets on the streets, about the things on his mind. … The second section of the film takes place on an island near Sicily, where Moretti meets a friend who has never watched TV. Soon the friend is addicted to American soap operas, and can talk of nothing else while climbing the local mountain.” I laughed aloud a lot during this segment. In the third segment, Moretti seeks advice from multiple doctors for a very bothersome skin rash. I could watch this film over and over because it’s subtle and leaves room for the viewer’s own experience.
The Bob Newhart Show episodes from Season 2 (1973 and 1974; all re-viewings):
- Confessions of an Orthodontist – Bob learns that Jerry has a secret when he fills in for another shrink.
- A Matter of Principal – Emily is pressured to skip ahead a grade a boy she thinks isn’t ready.
- A Love Story – Howard has fallen for Bob’s sister Ellen, who is making wedding plans with her fiance.
- Emily in for Carol – Emily handles receptionist duties while Carol is away, but Bob isn’t happy with her work.
- Fit, Fat and Forty-One – Bob has to lose 8 lbs, so he begins a restrictive diet and takes an exercise class.
- Blues for Mr Borden – Howard wonders why his ex-wife is being so nice to him and thinks about getting back together with her — then finds out about his son’s ‘Uncle Mickey.’
- My Wife Belongs to Daddy – Emily’s parents arrive unexpectedly and Bob tries to impress his overbearing and larger-than-life father-in-law.
- T.S. Eliot – After Carol goes out with Carlin, he starts to plan their life together.
- I’m Dreaming of a Slight Christmas – Emily and Bob plan to spend Christmas Eve alone at home, but a blizzard and power outage have other ideas.
- Oh, Brother – Jerry’s brother (Raoul Julia) comes to Chicago after finished dental school and starts to steal his patients.
Eddie Izzard Live at Madison Square Garden (2010). Another great evening of stand-up comedy. Izzard touches on his favourite topics: the history of the world from the start to now, religion, giraffes, jam, dinosaurs, Wikipedia, etc. Excerpts here, here , here and here (and more).
Eat, Pray, Love (2010) with Julia Roberts, from the book by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006), which I didn’t read. This movie was shown on the commuter bus and since I missed the first 20 minutes of it, it wasn’t until she got to India that I realised what this film must be. The storyline is that Liz leaves her clingy husband and subsequent love affair with a mismatch to spend a year living in Italy (eat), India (pray) and Bali (love) seeking … something. Roger Ebert’s review is overly harsh IMO (he ends with “Eat Pray Love is shameless wish-fulfillment, a Harlequin novel crossed with a mystic travelogue, and it mercifully reverses the life chronology of many people, which is Love Pray Eat.”) I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would, though I have to agree with Ebert that Liz certainly seems to have luck finding only nice men wherever she goes. I wouldn’t have gone to the theatre to see this movie but for the scenery, music, and quality of light alone it was worth watching for 2 hours on the bus; and, the story itself felt less obvious, more subtle than expected, and I didn’t find much Harlequin romance or woo-woo mystic travelogue in the mix. If you don’t like Julia Roberts, though, you won’t like this — she’s in every scene.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot (all re-viewings):
- How Does Your Garden Grow? (1991): Amelia Barrowby dies after handing Poirot a seed packet and sending him a vague letter. Her live-in relatives and a Russian maid who visits the Soviet embassy come under suspicion.
- The Adventure of the Western Star (1990): Diamond thievery is afoot in this episode, when both Marie Marvelle (a Belgian actress whom Poirot admires) and Lady Yardley receive threats against their diamonds, the Eastern and Western Stars, and then have them stolen. Meanwhile, Japp is investigating a well-connected gentleman whose hobby is diamond collecting.
Play It Again, Sam (1972), rescreening. Dir. Woody Allen. Neurotic Felix Allan (Allen) takes his cues about being a man and dealing with women from Humphrey Bogart. Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts play a married couple who try to help him.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot (rescreening): The Mystery of the Spanish Chest (1991), with Japp and Hastings. One of the more gruesome Poirots, IMO. Interesting.
Whatever Works (2009), dir. Woody Allen, starring Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, Ed Begley, Jr. David plays a hypochondriacal and contemptuous cynic (what else) who molds a young ex-beauty queen runaway from the South into his image. Then her right-wing Christian mom and dad show up and the fun begins. Surprisingly, a feel-good movie. “That’s why I can’t say enough times, whatever love you can get and give, whatever happiness you can filch or provide, every temporary measure of grace, whatever works.”
Bless Me Father episodes, Season 3 (1981):
- Episode 1: Things Are Not What They Seem
- Episode 2: Women
- Episode 5: A Legend Comes to Stay
- Episode 6: Porgy & Bess
Indiscreet (1958) , rescreening. Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant romance.
8 Women (2002), dir. Francois Ozon, , with all-star French cast of Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Beart, Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Virginie Ledoyen, Firmine Richard and Ludivine Sagnier. A campy romp in the style of an Agatha Christie drawing-room murder parody, with six musical numbers, some very upbeat! The plot is illogical but the movie is fun.
An American Family (1973), a very early PBS reality TV series featuring the Loud family of Santa Barbara, CA. The Loud family — parents Bill and Pat and their kids Lance, Kevin, Grant, Delilah, and Michele were filmed over a 7-month period, resulting in 12 hours of episodes.
- Episode 1: The final day of shooting, 31 Dec. 1972, and earlier footage of Lance in NYC, lots of rock band music, etc.
- Episode 2: Pat visiting Lance in NY – going to a drag show and spending time in his seedy apartment building.
- Episode 3: Pat’s return from NYC via Baltimore; mostly Michele and Delilah’s tap, ballet and modern dance recital.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot, starring David Suchet:
- Theft of the Royal Ruby, with an appearance by Waiting for God‘s Stephanie Cole! No Japp, Hastings, or Miss Lemon in this one, though.
- The Affair at the Victory Ball, featuring Commedia dell’ Arte costumes/disguises. Nathaniel Parker, who plays Thomas Lynley in the Inspector Lynley series, plays one of the characters. Japp, Hastings and Miss Lemon are back.
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg; 1964), a romantic musical dir. by Jacques Demy. Every line in the movie is sung. A bit tiresome. The story line is uncomplicated, the people are all good-hearted and simple in their motivations. And oh my, the wallpaper! Watch it just for the wallpaper!
Jeeves and Wooster, seasons 1 and 2 (1990-1991 ) by PG Wodehouse, starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Episodes:
- In Court After the Boat Race: Bertie is supposed to marry Honoria Glossop. Jeeves come to be his manservant.
- Bertie Is in Love: Girl fools Barmy and Bertie; Bertie is told to break up Tuppy’s interest in an opera singer.
- The Village Sports Day at Twing: Bertie is told by Aunt Agatha to break up his uncle’s engagement to a young waitress. And at a country fair, the bookie handicaps all the leading entrants.
- How Does Gussie Woo Madeline?: Bertie suggests that several people show their misery by not eating, which only causes Aunt Dahlia’s great chef Anatole to quit.
- Will Anatole Return to Brinkley Court?: Bertie tries to reunite Tuppy and Angela and bring Gussie and Madeline together; consequently, Gussie and Angela wind up engaged, and Madeline expects Bertie himself to marry her.
- The Silver Jug: Bertie’s Uncle Thomas and his rival, Judge Sir Watkyn Bassett, both want the same cow creamer.
- The Bassetts’ Fancy Dress Ball: Taking Bertie’s suggestion further than intended, Gussie writes down the quirks of Sir Watkyn and Spode in a little notebook to give him confidence, but he loses the notebook.
- The Con: Aunt Agatha summonses Bertie to a seaside resort to meet a suitable marriage candidate. It’s just a coincidence that the pearls the young lady pledges as collateral for a loan look exactly like the ones missing from Aunt Agatha’s room … or is it?
Midnight in Paris (2011), dir. Woody Allen. Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates, who is perfect in her role. A romantic comedy set in Paris in the present and in the 1920s (and briefly, in the Belle Epoch), with lush scenery, costumes, and music. If you long for the Paris of Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Picasso, Dali and others, you’ll like it.
The Clocks (2009) by Agatha Christie, a David Suchet Hercule Poirot Masterpiece Mystery production.
Melinda and Melinda (2004), dir. Woody Allen. Two stories with similar content, but one is a tragedy and one a comedy. Actually, the one that’s meant to be a comedy isn’t really funny but at least it’s not terribly tragic. An OK movie with some stilted dialogue/acting. Will Farrell does a more decent job than you’d expect playing the Woody Allen character.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Hallowe’en (2010) on Masterpiece Mystery. Spooky! Ariadne Oliver in this one, no Hastings, Lemon, or Japp. Worth seeing just for the very formal garden. And the jack-o’-lanterns.
Another Year (2010) by Mike Leigh, with Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen and Lesley Manville . “A look at four seasons in the lives of a happily married couple and their relationships with their family and friends,” all of whom seem unhappy to some extent. Enjoyable. Felt true to life.
Wallander: Faceless Killers ( 2010), with Kenneth Branaugh as Kurt Wallander. Violent crime set in Ystad, Sweden. Amazing cinematography. Plot: ‘The brutal murder of an elderly couple sparks a wave of revenge attacks against migrant laborers.”Also, Wallander’s dad’s brain isn’t working right.
Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), dir. Miranda July, with July, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff, Carlie Westerman.
Funny little movie about a lonely shoe salesman, his lonely associate, an affirmation-loving eccentric artist, the salesman’s kids, two teenage ‘mean girls’, a very precocious younger girl, and a museum staffer who are all struggling to connect in the modern world.
Last Year at Marienbad (1961). French, dir. Alain Resnais, written byAlain Robbe-Grillet. Stars Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi and Sacha Pitoëff. A strange, hypnotic, dreamlike movie, open to interpretation. The setting — a very large and geometrically perfect estate, with many corridors, doors, and mirrors, and its extremely formal gardens with statuary and clipped geometric topiary — isn’t just a backdrop but a character, along with A (the woman), who may have had an affair here last year with X (a man), A’s gaunt and largely silent husband M, who can’t lose at a parlor game, and many other people in formal attire who sometimes seem like mannequins and whose overheard snippets of conversation seem seem to be non-sequitors. Probably worth another viewing.
Wallander: The Man Who Smiled (2010), with Kenneth Branaugh as Kurt Wallander. Set in Ystad, Sweden. Plot: Wallander comes back to work after 6 months off to investigate the deaths of two lawyers for a foundation that does work in Africa.
Helena from the Wedding (2010), a modest film about the anxieties and foibles of (privileged white) people in their 30s. A newlywed couple hosts a New Year’s Eve weekend at their parents’ cabin, attended by two other couples, a separated man, and a single, attractive young woman. Lots of drinking, cocaine use, envy, jealousy, and wingeing ensues. Felt a little Woody Allenish in places, and like The Big Chill in others, but in the final analysis, it was incomplete and somewhat unsatisfying.
Gaudy Night: A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery (TV series 1987), with Harriet Walter, Edward Petherbridge, Sheila Burrell, Carol MacReady et al. Harriet Vane — infamous now for her murder trial and subsequent liaison with Lord Peter Wimsey — is at her alma mater, Shrewsbury College of Oxford, investigating some nasty poison pen letters. Strong cloistered academic ambiance, with poets quoted oft, a focus on scholarly research, and ivory tower isolation.
The Hours (2002), from book by Michael Cunningham, with Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Stephen Dillane, Miranda Richardson, Ed Harris. Fourth screening? I love this movie, which revolves around Va. Woolf’s novel, Mrs Dalloway.
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003), dir. Jim Jarmusch, with Roberto Benigni,
Steven Wright, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Cate Blanchett, etc. “A comic series of short vignettes built on one another to create a cumulative effect, as the characters discuss things” such as Tesla, caffeine popsicles, Elvis Presley and his evil twin, and, mostly, navigating awkward, often rivalrous, relationships, while sitting around sipping coffee (or tea, in some cases) and smoking cigarettes, usually Camels and Marlboros. Funny. Interesting. The Iggy Pop/Tom Waits vignette was my favourite. Also the “No Problem” segment, with Alex Descas and Isaach De Bankolé. And the Alfred Molina/Steve Coogan segment, which is almost cringeworthy.
rescreening of Have His Carcase: A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery (TV series 1987), with Harriet Walter, Edward Petherbridge, Jeremy Sinden, Colin Higgins, Arthur Cox. After her acquittal for murder, Harriet is taking a walking tour of the West Country when she stumbles upon a bearded man with his throat cut on a rocky outcropping near the sea. 4-part series.
Mrs McGinty’s Dead (Agatha Christie’s Poirot, 2008): A pair of photographs is the only clue Poirot has to solve the murder of a village charwoman and to prove the James Bentley’s innocence. Ariadne Oliver is featured.
rescreening of Le Dîner de Cons (1998), in English The Dinner Game, a French comedy written and directed by Francis Veber. The plot is explained perfectly at Wikipedia.
rescreening of Stardust Memories (1980), dir. Woody Allen, with Allen playing filmmaker Sandy Bates, whose audiences like his “earlier, funny movies.” Also Charlotte Rampling (as his bipolar actress girlfriend), Jessica Harper, and Marie-Christine Barrault. Definitely has a Fellini aspect to it. Not one of my favourites, though apparently one of Allen’s.
The King’s Speech (2010) with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush (whose face is amazing), and Helena Bonham Carter. “The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.” That says it all. A simple premise, a straightforward story. Sort of odd that German music plays all through it.
rescreening of Vertigo (1958), dir. Hitchcock, with Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, and Barbara Bel Geddes. Stewart is John Ferguson (Scotty), an out-of-work police detective suffering from acrophobia and vertigo, hired to follow an old school buddy’s wife to find out what she gets up to during the day. But it’s more complicated than that. Set in San Francisco.
Waiting for God (BBC, 1990-1994), with Graham Crowden, Stephanie Cole, Daniel Hill and Janine Duvitski. Feisty old folks at the Bayview Retirement Home. Season 1 (1990):
- Episode 1: Welcome to Bayview: Tom arrives.
- Episode 2: A Trip to Brighton: Diana and Tom escape to Brighton in her nieces’s Porsche.
- Episode 3: Cheering Up Tom: Tom gets depressed after being rushed to hospital.
- Episode 4: The Christening: Baines is trying to evict Diana because of a minor chronic illness.
rescreening of Last Year at Marienbad (1961). French, dir. Alain Resnais, written byAlain Robbe-Grillet. Stars Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi and Sacha Pitoëff. (See above for description.)
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) , dir. Woody Allen, with Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges, Danny Aiello. Rescreening. Set in the Depression. Someone reminded me of the surreal nature of this movie: a heroic character leaves the movie screen to be with an audience member, causing a kerfuffle among the remaining characters and the movie producers, and then later, the actor who portrayed the escaped character also comes into her life. Interesting for that aspect but otherwise an unremarkable movie.
Waiting for God (BBC, 1990-1994), with Graham Crowden, Stephanie Cole, Daniel Hill and Janine Duvitski. Feisty old folks at the Bayview Retirement Home. Season 1 (1990):
- Episode 5: Fraulein Mueller: Jane wants to become a nun so Baines sacks her and brings in stern German matron Greta Mueller, who tries to get rid of Diana and Tom.
- Episode 6: The Psychiatrist: Baines tries to have Diana and Tom declared incompetent. We meet Diane’s niece, Sarah, for the first time.
- Episode 7: The Helicopter: Diana takes aerial pics of expensive houses to sell them to their owners, and finds an interesting situation when she develops one of them.
rescreening of Strong Poison : A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery (1987), with Harriet Walter, Edward Petherbridge. Harriet is being tried for murdering her ex-lover, and Wimsey comes to her aid.
rescreening of My Dinner with Andre (1981) dir. Louis Malle, with Andre Gregory and Wally Shawn. Maybe the 12th time I’ve seen it? Still blows my mind/heart. Conversation about life.
Cat Among the Pigeons: Agatha Christie’s Poirot (2008) with David Suchet, Harriet Walter, Carol MacReady, Natasha Little, et al. “When the middle-Eastern country of Ramat is over-run by anti-monarchist revolutionaries, the surviving heir to the throne, Princess Shaista, is spirited away to safety in a small girls’ school, Meadowbank, which is run by the progressive Miss Bulstrode. However, when the bullying games mistress Miss Springer is found stabbed through the chest with a javelin, it appears that Meadowbank may not be the haven it promised to be.”
rescreening of Autumn Sonata (1978) , dir. Bergman, with Ingrid Bergman. Such emotion and mother-daughter drama and guilt.
another rescreening of My Dinner with Andre (1981) with 7 other people.
My Dog Tulip (2009), animated, with voices of Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, Isabella Rossellini. Based on book by JB Ackerley. Roger Ebert led me astray here, recommending this. The animation is lovely, and so is some of the writing, but the plot is pathetically bad: a German Shepherd’s new owner wants to breed her, tries many times, finally succeeds, and then wants to kill the puppies by drowning them. WTF. Idiot. And the movie purports to be about the loving relationship between man and dog (though he also hits her when she misbehaves), how this dog takes the place of all the friends the man doesn’t have. Yet by the end of the film I have very little sense of the dog’s personality or how she changed his life for the 15 years he owned her.
The Two of Us (1967 ; Le vieil homme et l’enfant), dir. Claude Berri, with Alain Cohen, Michel Simon. A sweet story set in Nazi-occupied France near the end of WWII. An older anti-Semitic man and his wife, in the country, take in a city boy who is, unbeknowst to them, Jewish. It’s the story of a relationship.
rescreening of Home for the Holidays (1995), dir. Jodie Foster, with Holly Hunter, Dylan McDermott, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, and Robert Downey Jr. The first time I saw it, I thought it was mean-spirited (but funny); now I just think it’s human, not mean-spirited, true to life. And funny. Set at Thanksgiving, in Baltimore.
rescreening of Rope ( 1948), dir Hitchcock, with Farley Granger, John Dall, Jimmy Stewart. The students take their mentor’s philosophy one step further. Chilling as always.
Grown-Ups (2010), with Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, et al. When a beloved basketball coach dies, 5 teammates who played together 30 years ago (and who are superficially quite from each other) get together, with their families, at a large cottage for a few days. Good plot synopsis at Wikipedia. Some of the situations and humour is too juvenile for most adults, while other situations and humour are too adult for some younger kids, but the basic message — that playing together in the natural environment is healthy and builds relationships — resonates.
Torn Curtain (1966), dir. Hitchcock, with Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. A Cold War spy movie, set mostly in East Germany. Ships, busses, cars, planes … all kind of movement and methods of escape.
Family Plot (1976), dir. Hitchcock, with Bruce Dern, Karen Black, William Devane, Barbara Harris. “Lighthearted suspense film about a phony psychic/con artist and her taxi driver/private investigator boyfriend who encounter a pair of serial kidnappers.” Not all that lighthearted, IMO.
rescreening of White Christmas (1954).
rescreening of Bergman’s Winter Light (1962) and Through A Glass Darkly (1961).
reviewing of Good Neighbors’ Christmas Special (1977) and Series 3, episode #5 The Wind-Break War.
A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Season 1, episodes 1 and 2.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot, starring David Suchet (re-viewings):
- Yellow Iris, (1993) with Hastings and Miss Lemon, set in Argentina and London, concerns the reunion of a group of people present when a beautiful and wealthy woman (Iris) was killed at dinner in Argentina before a military coup.
- The Underdog (1993), with Miss Lemon (who practices hypnotism) and Captain Hastings, involving a revolutionary chemical innovation with military applications, set in the 1930s with reference to the coming war involving Germany. Very modern architecture.