29 September 2014

The Cider House Rules

The Cider House Rules 1999
  • Director: Lasse Hallström
  • Based on the novel by John Irving
  • Cast: Michael Caine, Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd, Jane Alexander, Kathy Baker, Erykah Badu, Kieran Culkin, Kate Nelligen
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Michael Caine  The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, the Dark Knight, Flawless, Sleuth (2007), The Prestige, Children of Men, Batman Begins, Last Orders, Get Carter, Little Voice, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Mona Lisa, Educating Rita, Sleuth (1972), Alfie and perhaps others
    • Tobey Maguire – The Ice Storm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pleasantville, The Great Gatsby, Spiderman
    • Charlize Theron – The Road, Prometheus, Battle in Seattle, North Country, Monster, Sweet November, The Astronaut’s Wife, The Devil’s Advocate,
    • Delroy Lindo – The Exonerated, A Life Less Ordinary, Ransom, Feeling Minnesota, Get Shorty. Clockers.
    • Paul Rudd – Friends, Romeo and Juliet
    • Jane Alexander - The Sunshine State, Terminator – Salvation, Playing for Time, Kramer vs Kramer
    • Kathy Baker - Take Shelter, Last Chance Harvey, The Jane Austen Book Club, Cold Mountain, The Glass House, Edward Scissorhands,, To Gillian on Her Thirty-Seventh Birthday, The Right Stuff
    • Kieran Culkin – Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Igby Goes Down
    • Kate Nelligan – Wolf, The Prince of Tides. Frankie and Johnny, The Onedin Line
  • Why? Curious to see it again
  • Seen:  September 28, 2014 with Hal and YW in read-book-see-film club
John Irving wrote the screenplay so he must have been satisfied with all the cuts and changes but a lot of them must have hurt.  As we take a pause in watching, and after we’re finished, we have a lot of objections to discuss.
But he does get the story. More or less.  Dr. Wilbur Larch runs an orphanage in a remote part of Maine in the 1940’s. He delivers babies of women who can’t keep them and he performs illegal and safe abortions to the women who he feels have the right to demand them. Homer Wells is one of the orphans who, though adopted by a couple of families (four in the novel) returns to the orphanage.  Wilbur trains him to become a skilled obstetrician and gynaecologist. Though Wilbur treats all of the orphans kindly and lovingly he regards Homer almost as a son. But Homer refuses to perform abortions no matter what Wilbur says to convince him of the rightness. Homer longs to leave the orphanage and takes his chance when the young (not yet married) couple Candy and Wally come for an abortion.  Homer leaves with them, gets work on Wally’s mother’s apple orchard.  Wally goes off to war and Candy and Homer fall in love. 
There is a subplot of black migrant apple pickers but the racism described in the book is skimmed over. The love interest between Wilbur and one of the nurses is transformed and overemphasised as is the infatuation one of the girls in the orphanage has for Homer.  None of this translates well on the screen.
But there are some good humorous lines and the acting is solid throughout.  Several of the cast could have shared Caine’s Oscar for best supporting actor.  The kids are all great and I confess to a sniffle or two at the end. It’s a good film.  It’s more a Hallström film than an Irving book and that is not a bad thing.  But read the book too.

3 * of 5


Intouchables 2011
  • Directors: Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
  • Based on novel: No
  • Cast: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ney, Audrey Fleurot
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Francois Cluzet  Olivier Olivier, Chocolat (not the Johnny Depp one),  Round Midnight
    • Anne Le Ney – Somewhere but I can’t find where
  • Why? Recommended by friends MM and KJG
  • Seen:  September 21, 2014
The film comes highly recommended and that is always a disadvantage to the film in question. This one is no exception. I expected a French My Left Foot. It isn’t.
It’s a nice film (not a very flattering adjective, but accurate) and it does offer interesting insight into the class and ethnic differences in Paris.  Driss, a black kid from the suburban high-rise concrete jungle, just out of prison, ends up working for Philippe, a filthy rich bourgeois art-loving quadriplegic though he has absolutely no qualifications or experience. Philippe just likes his cheeky vulgarity.
It’s all predictable.  It all goes well and it’s fun to watch it going well. Driss jokes constantly and crudely – and it must be said, a bit tediously -  about sex. He hustles every female in sight except Philippe’s daughter. Philippe falls for a pen friend from Dunkerque but is afraid to meet her. Driss brings life back to Philippe with all kinds of escapades.
Clichés abound. Driss laughs at classical music then jives to Earth, Wind and Fire on the ballroom floor. He scoffs at paying 14,000 Euros for an abstract painting then does one of his own that Philippe sells for 11,000. My environmentally aware soul protests against Philippe treating Driss to a private jet ride.  And generally, it’s in French to be sure but there is just too much Hollywood feel-good to be completely enjoyable.
Bur Driss’s dancing is great and it’s fun that he recognises classical bits as adverts and the telephone muzak for the job centre. And everyone is likeable.

2 ½ * of 5

22 September 2014

Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2001
  • Directors: Robb Marshall
  • Based on the book by Tim Powers
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz,  Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane, Kevin McNally, Sam Claflin, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Keith Richards, Richard Griffiths, Anton Lesser, Roger Allam
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Johnny Depp  Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Slow Burn, Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Arizona Dream, Benny and Joon, Ed Wood, Don Juan DeMarco, Dead Man, Nick of Time, Donnie Brasco, The Brave, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Astronaut’s Wife, Sleepy Hollow, The Man Who Cried, Chocolat, Blow, From Hell, Lost in La Mancha, Pirates of the Caribbean (all four of them), Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Finding Neverland, Libertine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Public Enemies, Alice in Wonderland, The Tourist
    • Penelope Cruz - Nine, Elegy, Todo sobre mi madre, Blow
    • Geoffrey Rush – Pirates of the Caribbean 1-4, The King’s Speech, Elizabeth, Elizabeth the Golden Age, Intolerable Cruelty, Ned Kelly, The Banger Sisters, Frida, Lantana, Shakespeare in Love, Les Miserables, Shine, Twelfth Night
    • Kevin McNally – Downton Abbey, Pirates 1-4, Valkyria, Shackleton, Sliding Doors, I Claudius
    • Sam Claflin –The Hunger Games Catching Fire
    • Richard Griffiths – Harry Potter, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Sleepy Hollow, Gandhi, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Withnail and I, Comedy of Errors.
    • Anton Lesser – Endeavor, The Girl in the Café, Twelfth Night, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida
    • Roger Allam – The Tempest (in London at the Globe), Endeavor, The Woman in Black, The Queen, V for Vendetta, Tristram Shandy
  • Why? JD. 40 in the JD marathon (39 is The Tourist which I reviewed some time ago. See the side bar for that review and its update.)
  • Seen:  Once before. Now: September 19, 2014
Does it really matter what the story is?  Captain Jack Sparrow is back. Two of him. One of whom is his old girlfriend Angelica.  After some swashbuckling in London they head off in search of the Fountain of Youth, in a race between Angelica’s father Blackbeard, Captain Jack’s old nemesis Barbossa and the Spanish.
In the first three Pirates films the lack of comprehensible story has not mattered because the characters and the action were so fun. Sadly, not so in this one.  I doze off in the first hour. The mermaids wake me up but I can’t understand why they have to be so vicious.
Captain Jack is funny as always but he doesn’t get much screen time. The rest is quite tedious. Especially the stupid love story between the preacher and the mermaid. I mean, come on.
It’s visually impressive at times and the theme song, the few times it comes, still stirs. But generally it is, I fear, quite ho hum.
The best bit lasted two seconds. Judi Dench in the shortest cameo in history, out acting everyone else in those two seconds.  Anton Lesser and Roger Allam are both listed but I only catch the briefest glimpse of Lesser and none at all of Allam. A pity.
Penelope Cruz adds zero sparkle and nil romance. No wonder Captain Jack left her. I miss Elizabeth and Will. This comes nowhere near the first three. But Depp and Dench in the same film give it

2 * of 5

The Kid

The Kid 1921
  • Director: Charlie Chaplin
  • Based on novel: No
  • Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan, Edna Purviance
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Charlie Chaplin  – I’m not really sure which ones I’ve seen
    • Jackie Coogan – various TV series
  •  Why? A classic. First in the Charlie Chaplin box we bought recently.
  • Seen:  September 14, 2014
Charlie Chaplin.  How many of his films have you actually seen?  I’ve seen one or two maybe. Clips from them anyway. Now we have the box and are starting with this one, the earliest. It’s maybe the fourth or fifth silent movie I’ve seen. I feel like a real film historian watching this.
And find myself quite enthralled.
The story is simple. An unhappy unwed mother leaves the baby in a rich family’s car with the note, “Love and care for this poor orphan” (or something like that). Through a string of mishaps the baby is adopted by Chaplin’s classical figure, the Tramp. There are a series of more or less silly escapades but when the Kid is taken by the Authorities it’s really very emotional and exciting.
It’s beautifully filmed in black and white with loads of very funny and at times realistic details mixed in with the slapstick.  Jackie Coogan as the five year old Kid is a masterpiece.  I wonder what became of him. (PS See above, I found out on IMdB, as always).
I’m looking forward to the rest of the box.

3 * of 5