I haven’t written about movies for a while, and so I thought that this would be a good time to do so.
We have seen several movies over the past few months and a few stand out in memory Isn’t it amazing how often you see a movie, talk about it on the way home and then forget about it.
Well Les Miserables was a stand out movie and one I won’t forget. I didn’t want to go as I really disliked the stage play that my DYS and I had seen years ago in Melbourne, Australia. I felt that the show did little in portraying Victor Hugo’s classic which I had read many years before and which remains one of my favourites. So having made this quite clear I reluctantly accompanied my friend to the cinema. And I was not disappointed. I hated the movie. Oh I know you are all agog that I could say that. So many of my friends and acquaintances loved it – but not me.
A week or so later we saw Amour. This soul-searching French movie left us speechless. It was the story of Ann and Georges a past middle age couple who in the opening scenes are active and happy. But Anne has a stroke and though her mind remains sharp, her motor skills have started to fail her. An upsetting scene was when she was in the bathroom and she had to call for Georges. We see him helping her up from the lavatory, pulling up her underwear and we see her looking over his shoulder with a look of resignation and some disgust that she has to rely on him so much.
The spiralling downhill of her health and therefore, their lives is frightening and reminds us that dementia and ill health respect nobody.
It was clear to us why this movie and the female actress won so many nominations in so many film festivals. And at the end of the movie and after the credits had rolled and the lights came up nobody moved. I think we were all shattered.
After that we saw Quartet. This is a comedy/drama tale about four aging musicians who reside in a retirement home for musicians. The cast is made up of many well known British stars and a panoply of real life musicians comprise the supporting cast . There is a tribute to these people at the end of the movie when we see them as they looked in their prime.
This is a lighthearted movie that I would recommend to anybody. Pauline Collins is a delight as the scatterbrained Cissy who keeps repeating the phrase “Getting old is not for Cissies”. Dame Maggie Smith as the latecomer diva Jean joins Cissy, Reg played by Tom Courtenay and the irrepressible Billy Connolly as Wilf. I would recommend this movie if you are looking for a movie that doesn’t cause you too many bad dreams.
We saw Performance a not to be missed movie about a string quartet and how they each react when the cellist and the leader of the group tells them that he may not be able to continue as he has early symptoms of Parkinson’s. He really is portrayed as the spiritual leader of the group. The quartet consists of the cellist two violins and a viola. The group have been together for 25 years and Peter, the second violinist is married to Juliet the violist. We see how the other three react at the news and we watch the changes in the group wrought by the news.
The looming crisis drives a wedge into the clearly troubled marriage of the violist and the second violinist. They have a twenty something daughter who gets physically involved with the first violinist, much to the dismay of her parents of course.
Lots of angst and soul-searching but another movie I strongly recommend to you.
And finally Barbara. All I knew about the film was that it was set in East Germany before the wall came down and Barbara a doctor is banished to a small medical centre in the provinces. At no tine during the movie did we find out what her crime was – a brief comment about ‘her incarceration’ was made early in the film but no explanation followed. We watch as Barbara is subjected to constant supervision and suffers the harassment of a local menacing state officer who searches her home and her person (of course carried out by an equally menacing woman) without complaint. We understand that she cannot complain.
From her initial desire to keep to herself, Barbara forms a strong bond with a young runaway patient and over time she finds herself drawn to her boss, Andre, the head of the hospital. We see her as she keeps a tryst with her lover, a West German, although it is difficult to accept that she can do so as she appears to be under constant surveillance. And we never find out what he is doing in this remote area.
However, after we saw the film we picked up a leaflet at the cinema. Had we done so earlier it would have made so much more sense to the film. Barbara’s crime was wanting to escape to the west. The young girl whom she befriends is in a state run orphanage and the young people are very badly treated and so constantly try to run away.
I am in two minds about this movie. I don’t know hat I would recommend it, but if you do go to see it please find out some of the background before you do.
And here endeth my tour of the recent movies. Some I have loved, two that come to you highly recommended, one that was thought provoking and rather close to home, one that I really did not like and one other about which I have reservations. But make up your own minds if you see any or all of these movies.
“Everything I learned I learned from the
― Audrey Hepburn
- Review of Dustin Hoffman’s Directorial Debut, ‘Quartet’ (umich.uloop.com)
- Lifetime achievement award for actor (bbc.co.uk)