Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday Watchings...

I realized, yesterday, that I have been remiss in writing up the movies I have seen in the past week. Two of them I watched at home in South Dakota, and two since I've been back. I was all set to write up the former, but then did the drive back and forgot to do it. I was about to write up one of the latter when the other of the latter came on TV unexpectedly, and... well... I do get distracted easily. So, without further ado...

1) La Vie En Rose (also called La Mome, apparently) - the Edith Piaf biopic for which Marianne Cotillard won the Leading Actress Oscar in 2008. Wow. What a movie - and what a life Edith Piaf must have led. This is an easy movie to watch, but not an easy one to experience. The tale flows perfectly, even with juxtapositions of past and present, and although you know how it's going to end, the ending is still wrenching. But, as with many great stories, knowing the destination only heightens the journey. This dark and stormy film was incredible. I'd say it's a "must-see", but I'd caution against it if you're looking for a happy "Life in Pink" kind of film. 
Overall rating: A (No equivocation at all!)

2) A New Kind of Love - while this is also primarily set in Paris, that is where the similarities between it and La Vie En Rose end. A New Kind of Love is a rather delightful comedy of manners and comedy of errors from 1964. Full of the music and fashion - yes, lots of Parisian fashion houses are featured - of the era, this is a wonderful excuse to watch a young Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman spar and flirt their way through cafes, around Montmartre, and in impossibly rich rooms in Paris. The supporting cast is stellar, and we all laughed as we were reminded that even actors known for their serious roles can be fun. 
Realistic representation of the city of lights? Nope. Wonderful exactly as it was? Definitely. Overall rating: A- (Having lived in Paris, I do sometimes get frustrated when it's not portrayed realistically.)

3) Flushed Away - It looked like a cute Aardman-esque animated movie. It had a couple of great lead "actors" in Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet. It should have been fun. I turned it off after 25 minutes. I was bored and felt completely let down. Who knows? Maybe it picked up after the first third of the movie, but I wasn't willing to waste any more time on it. 
A witty enough "lost mouse" movie? Nope, not witty enough. Cute enough to allow me to pretend I was a kid and enjoy it anyway? Not even that. Overall rating: D (I can't give it an F since it might have gotten better had I not turned it off.)

4) The Dot and the Line (A Romance in Lower Mathematics) - Last night, while not finding anything interesting on most of my usual channels, I stumbled on a salute to the incomparable animator Chuck Jones on TCM. I watched part of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and even stayed up late to watch The Phantom Tollbooth, a movie based on one of my favorite junior high-level books (both Dot and Tollbooth were written by Norton Juster, if you were wondering). But the highpoint of the evening, by far, was The Dot and the Line. Although the short movie came out in 1965 (from a book published in 1963) I remember first seeing it at a math competition when I was in either junior high or high school in the early 1980s. It's a beautiful little story about a Line who wants to get the attention of a Dot who is infatuated by an unkempt Squiggle. There's a lot of geometry in the film, but it's also an allegory of what people are willing to do for love. There are some very cool graphics in it - from realistic drawings to "Line" drawings (you'll know why that's funny once you watch it) and Spirograph-style sketches. It was wonderful to catch up with it, again. 

** sidenote ** Although the book is apparently still available, the short film seems hard to come by. One note online says that it is available as a "special feature" on at least one DVD release of Doris Day's The Glass-Bottom Boat, of all places. And I did find the entire film on YouTube, here. ** end sidenote **

Need a knowledge of lower mathematics to watch it? No (although a few jokes are better for it). Will it make you wonder what to do with your own wild and unkempt Squiggles? Maybe. Overall rating: A (of course)

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