It’s 8 degrees outside, so time for more movies

Impossible

I have mixed feelings on this one.  They did a great job recreating the event of that horrendous tsunami, but somehow I just couldn’t get sucked into the story.  It never gelled for me.  I think this may be me more than the movie, based on the reaction in the theater; but I felt a lot of distance in this movie.

Two odd things stood out for me.  The movie is based on the experiences of a real-life Spanish family.  Despite that fact, and that it’s a Spanish production, the movie family is played by all British actors.  The other thing that bothered me was that during the movie the father, who has just been reunited with his 2 youngest sons (both under 10) leaves them alone to go look for his wife and oldest son.  Huh?  Really?  What the hell – this was such an astoundingly bad parent move that it killed the movie for me.

Quartet

Find this movie and see it.  The story takes place in a large English manor house being used as a home for retired musicians.  The residents are busy practicing for a show, and annual event that raises money for the establishment and provides an outlet for talents of the wonderful residents.  We meet opera stars, chorus singers, music hall performers; musicians and conductors.  The story centers on the arrival of a new resident played by Maggie Smith, a retired singer with a tangled history.  She was briefly married to another resident who clearly still carries a torch for her after over 50 years.  They were 2 members of a quartet; all 4 members are now at the retirement home.

The story precedes exactly as you’d expect, but that’s a good thing.  It’s a real delight to see a movie that shows older people as complex human beings with actual lives, rather than as foils for other characters.  We care about the people; the woman slowly losing her self to dementia; the caste system of stars and supporting players still holding sway; the sweet rekindling of an old romance.  The music is the other delight of this movie.  I didn’t realize it until the credits, but all of the non-star roles were actual older singers and musicians.  Being neither British nor a fan of classical music and opera I didn’t recognize any of them, but a more cultured person most likely would.

Ted

Very disappointing.  I have a real soft spot for dumb, juvenile comedies.  Steve Martin’s “The Jerk” is on my top ten list of all time favorites, and “There’s Something about Mary” isn’t far behind, so I had big hopes for this one.

The movie has a great plot.  John Bennett , an unpopular young boy, gets a stuffed bear from Christmas and wishes it to life to become his best friend forever.  What’s clever about the plot, and distinguishes it from other similar stories of loners with magical friends, is that Ted’s special abilities are visible to everyone.  Unlike “Harvey”, the comedy is based on the bear’s interactions with the world, not on the John’s attempts to manage a relationship with a being that no one else sees.

Sadly, that is the one and only bit of cleverness in the movie.  In reality the movie is a tribute to the “man-boy” that grown up male who continues to live and act as though he were a 17 year old.  The 35 year old John Bennett spends his time smoking pot and hanging out with Ted, who spends his time chasing women and indulging in antics that only an adolescent boy would find amusing.  Somehow, John has managed to establish a long-term relationship with Lori, a smart, sexy and successful woman who actually wants to marry this over-grown boy approaching middle age.

The movie follows what happens when Lori  dumps John and he attempts to win her back.  By the end of the movie the two are back together and getting married, Ted has been miraculously reanimated by Lori, and John seems pretty much the same immature ass he was at the start of the movie, though maybe now up to 18 in his emotional age.

What made me like   “The Jerk”   and “There’s Something about Mary” is that these movies had rather sweet messages at their core; while draped in coarse humor, the actual goal of both movies was to show the essential decency of people, that we are all looking for love and kindness.  Ted has no such message, and there is nothing deft or clever hidden within it.

Hyde Park on the Hudson

Enjoyable, but not much more.  Really nothing much to say about this one; it’s a sort of “shadow” movie, one I know I’ll have trouble remembering in a month.  Despite stating it was based on fact, much of the movie seemed to feel fictional.  I checked this NPR source http://www.npr.org/2012/12/26/167537602/hyde-park-an-fdr-portrait-thats-more-fiction-than-fact which does a good job of vetting movies, and as I had thought there is very little fact in this one and a lot of fiction.

To my mind way too much of the portrayal of the main characters was done with a “nudge nudge, wink wink” manner, with the intent being to view these people not through the eyes of the narrator – a woman remembering events that took place when she was young and rather naïve – but through our, early 21st century, views.   The one thing in the movie that really worked was Laura Linney.  Her portrayal was magic; the rest of the movie was not.

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